Jesus Gonzalez-Garcia and Montfort Mlachila
International migration has been in the headlines for the past few years: a surge of refugees to Europe, especially from the Middle East and Africa, has spurred the ongoing refugee crisis. A backlash has followed in many countries, including within sub-Saharan Africa.
Developing economies tend to receive more immigrants relative to their population than advanced economies. Refugees make the headlines, but in sub-Saharan Africa longer-term migration, within and outside the region, strongly affects the continent’s economies.
In 2013, about 20 million sub-Saharan Africans, twice the 1990 number, were living outside their own country—13 million of whom had migrated within the region (see Chart 1).
The demographic boom in sub-Saharan Africa’s working-age population—which typically feeds migration—means the trend will continue for decades. The current 2 percent migration rate (migrants as percent of population) in sub-Saharan Africa is low relative to the rest of the developing world, where 3 percent of the population live abroad. But it has kept up with the rapid growth of the region’s population as a whole—from about 480 million in 1990 to about 900 million in 2015.
Gonzalez-Garcia, Jesus, and others. 2016. “Sub-Saharan African Migration: Patterns and Spillovers.” IMF Spillover Note 9, International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC.
Jaumotte, Florence, Ksenia Koloskova, and Sweta Saxena. 2016. “Impact of Migration on Income Levels in Advanced Economies.” Spillover Note 8, International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC.