Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Where are the world's labourers migrating for jobs? Think China

Ten years ago this month, an English economist coined the term "BRICs" to describe four fast-growing, dynamic countries he believed would transform the global economy: Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Since then, they've reshaped the world in a way even he never imagined. The four now comprise quarter of the world's GDP from 11 per cent 10 years ago. And it's not just the BRICs – emerging markets from Turkey to Indonesia, with booming populations and a growing middle class are turning old notions of wealth and power upside down.

What was economic theory a decade ago is now playing out in the most concrete of ways: altered migration patterns. Workers are voting with their feet to join these emerging economies, while traditional magnets for the world's workers, such as the United States, are losing their lustre.

"The shifting balance of global economic growth is bring global migration flows with it," says Madeleine Sumption, policy analyst at the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute. "We're seeing lower migration to crisis nations, whereas most of the growth is towards developing nations."

People are still seeking work in traditional markets, like Germany or Canada. But new, surprising flows are taking place in this post-recession, rocky recovery era -- Mexican Americans are returning home, for example, and Spanish graduates are emigrating to Chile and Chinese scientists in the U.K. are leaving to return home. The shift promises to create new types of diasporas, change remittance flows and alter labour markets

Here is the world that was, as told through key flows in labour migration:

Report an error Licensing Options

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨