The Globalization of Migration: Has the World Become More Migratory?


  • The research leading to these results is part of the DEMIG project and has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Community's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013)/ERC Grant Agreement 240940. The authors would like to thank Edo Mahendra, Maria Villares-Varela, and Simona Vezzoli and three anonymous referees for the valuable comments they have on a previous draft of this article.

  • The copyright line in this article was changed on 14 January 2016 after online publication.


Although it is commonly believed that the volume, diversity, geographical scope, and overall complexity of international migration have increased as part of globalization processes, this idea has remained largely untested. This article analyzes shifts in global migration patterns between 1960 and 2000 using indices that simultaneously capture changes in the spread, distance, and intensity of migration. While the results challenge the idea that there has been a global increase in volume, diversity, and geographical scope of migration, main migratory shifts have been directional. Migration has globalized from a destination country perspective but hardly from an origin country perspective, with migrants from an increasingly diverse array of non-European-origin countries concentrating in a shrinking pool of prime destination countries. The global migration map has thus become more skewed. Rather than refuting the globalization of migration hypothesis, this seems to reflect the asymmetric nature of globalization processes in general.