Prospects for International Migration in the 21st Century

Paul Demeny, Population Council

In 2011, the United Nations Population Division published its World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision. This prestigious and widely cited compendium, covering all countries and major regional subdivisions of the global population, recapitulates population history in terms of a variety of indicators, including estimates of net migration rates and volumes since 1950 and presents population projections whose coverage now extends over the entire 21st century. As in the earlier projection sets, multiple variants are elaborated, in particular those labeled as “high,” “medium,” and “low.” The differences between these sets are essentially governed by alternative assumptions as to the future course of fertility. For mortality and international net migration future trends are specified by a single set of assumptions. Yet uncertainties concerning international migration are arguably as wide and consequential as those relating to future fertility trends. This paper considers the resulting problématique.

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Presented in Session 3: International Migration