Three stats and a map

Religion of migrants

A new study called Faith on the Move looks at the religious affiliation of international migrants. Though they represent a small percentage of the world’s population, about three percent, international migrants as a group would constitute the fifth largest country in the world, according to the report by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life. That’s a country of 214 million people.

According to the United Nations Population Division, international migrants are people living a year or longer in a country outside their birth country and include foreign workers, students, refugees and in some cases, the descendants of refugees.

The report also includes estimates of the number of unauthorized or illegal immigrants in various countries and is based on the total number of migrants as of 2010. It was released in March.

Among the findings:

  • Christians and Muslims, the two largest religious groups, represented about half of the world population but about three-quarters of international migrants in 2010. More Christian migrants came from Mexico, some 12 million, than any other country. The largest share of Muslim migrants was Palestinian, about five million.
  • Jews make up less than one percent of the word population, but of seven groups in the study, they had the highest percentage rate for moving across borders. According to the report, “one-quarter of the Jews alive today have left the country in which they were born and now live somewhere else.” Russia and Ukraine accounted for the most Jewish migrants.
  • Of the other groups studied, the top country for Buddhist migration was Vietnam, then China. Hindu migrants totaled more than five million. China had the largest number of migrants grouped together as “other religions” and “religiously unaffiliated.