According to a new research report published by Finaccord, the total number of expatriates worldwide amounted to around 66.2 million in 2017. This figure has grown at a compound annual rate of 5.8% since 2013, given that there were around 52.8 million expatriates in that year. By 2021, Finaccord forecasts that the number will reach around 87.5 million.
- The global expatriate population has reached 66.2 million and is on track to rise to 87.5 million by 2021;
- the highest numbers of expatriates reside in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Germany;
- individual workers account for over 70% of expatriates worldwide and students for 8.5% of them.
This total is composed of several different types of expatriate, who can play very different roles in their host countries. Across 30 important inbound countries investigated (i.e. destination countries for expatriates), Saudi Arabia hosted the largest number of expatriates in 2017, followed by the UAE and Germany; in the UAE, expatriates made up 87.8% of the total population, which is the highest of these 30 countries.
"The number of expatriates in the GCC states – mainly individual workers from Asian countries – has increased at an enormous pace in recent years as these economies are heavily dependent on the inflow of foreign workers", comments David Bowles, a Consultant at Finaccord. "In contrast, in other countries such as the UK and the US, international students, especially from China, constitute a comparatively high proportion of the total expatriate population, while the US and Spain attract the most retired expatriates, chiefly Canadians retiring to the US, and British or German residents retiring to Spain."
Meanwhile, across 25 major outbound countries researched (i.e. expatriate countries of origin), India generated by far the largest group of expatriates resident abroad in 2017, with the GCC states a major destination, followed by China and Canada.
Based on a comprehensive analysis of national and international sources to estimate the number, nationality and type of expatriates, Finaccord's research shows that the total expatriate population worldwide has also grown in relative terms. Specifically, the percentage of the total worldwide population that is composed of expatriates increased from around 0.75% in 2013 to 0.90% in 2017 and is forecast to rise to 1.13% by 2021. Moreover, the relative size of the expatriate population within the total worldwide immigrant population, as defined by the UN, has also grown from 24.4% in 2013 to 25.7% in 2017, and is predicted to increase further to 28.5% by 2021.
"Global mobility has increased significantly over the past decade and expatriates constitute a large and diverse market", concludes David Bowles. "In order to fully describe this market, Finaccord has developed an updated comprehensive and standardised analysis of expatriates worldwide that provides a consistent segmentation of expatriates. According to this analysis, the majority of expatriates in 2017 were classifiable as individual workers (71.1%) followed by students (8.5%), retired expatriates (5.2%) and corporate and other transferees (1.0%), with the balance of other expatriates (defined as non-employed spouses and children) making up the residual 14.1%."