Global expatriate totals to hit at least 87 million by 2021

Published:  17 Jul at 6 PM
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By 2021, the total number of expatriates scattered across the world is expected to reach over 85 million.

Expatriation in the present day is a far cry from its 19th century origins, when various wealthy empires sent their representatives to keep the natives down whilst plundering the resources of their lands. Huge numbers of present day expats also have money on their minds, whether it’s to send home to their families or to work overseas for a salary they could only dream of back where they came from. However, becoming an expat simply to experience another culture is a throwback to pre-imperial days when adventurers headed for regions unknown out of pure curiosity. Nowadays, curiosity can be easily satisfied online, and the actual journey to the chosen destination is comfortable, quick and affordable via the nearest airport.

It’s no surprise that findings of a recent study on expat numbers worldwide revealed 66.2 million at the present time with 87.5 million projected for 2021. According to the study, from 2013 the total number of expats has grown on an annual basis at a rate of around 5.8 per cent from 52.8 million. Investigators came up with 30 important expat destinations for the year 2017, with Saudi Arabia hosting the largest number, followed by the United Arab Emirates in which expats totalled 87 per cent of the entire population, whilst Germany took third place. All three are heavily dependent on foreign workers, whereas the US and UK are favourites for the international students who make up a high percentage of expat numbers, and Spain attracts the highest number of expat retirees from the UK and Germany.

As regards expatriates’ home countries, India tops the list of nationals living and working overseas, with the Gulf States, China and Canada following close behind. Given that the majority of Western expat professionals leave home to further their careers and hope to live in luxury at the same time, the projection for 2021 could well be accurate. However, there’s now a new style of expat whose overseas lifestyle depends on the internet. Digital nomads and tech entrepreneurs are the new wave of expatriation, and could well swell the estimated numbers far beyond the original calculations.
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