The Religious Affiliation of International Migrants

Mar 08, 2012

An estimated 214 million people -- about 3% of the world's population -- have migrated across international borders as of 2010. While the percentage may seem small, if the migrants were counted as one nation, they would constitute the fifth most populous country in the world, just behind Indonesia and ahead of Brazil.

Nearly half of these migrants (49%) are Christians, and the top country of origin has been Mexico, followed by Russia and the Ukraine where borders changed after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The second-largest group of migrants are Muslims (27%), among whom the largest share has come from the Palestinian territories, followed by Pakistan, Bangladesh and India.

Jewish migrants represent a smaller share of the total number of those who have crossed international borders to a new destination country. But relative to their numbers, they have by far the highest level of migration compared with other religious groups. About one-quarter of Jews alive today have left their birth country and now live somewhere else.

While migrants come from a very diverse and widespread array of countries, the vast majority end up immigrating to a relatively few areas -- North America, Europe, Australia and the Arab states of the Persian Gulf.

Read the full report, The Religious Affiliation of International Migrants, on the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life Web site.

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