Subject Material

Multiculturalism in Facts and Figures

Published: 15.05.2012, Updated: 04.03.2017
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Pre-reading activity
How many immigrants are there in the world, and where do most of them come from? Answer this question and afterwards compare your answer with the information given in the following text. Do the numbers suprise you or not?


host, remittance, consumption, impact, beneficial, labour force, diminish, foreseeable, current



Migration in Numbers

Immigrants in the USA Rallies for Reforms. Photo.Immigrants in the USA Rallies for Reforms
Opphavsmann: Korean Resource Center
 According to the UN, in 2005, 191 million of the world’s 6.3 billion inhabitants lived in another country than the one in which they were born. This equals 3%. Of these, one third had moved from a developing country to a developed country, one third had moved from one developing country to another and one third originated in a developed country.

China has taken Mexico’s place as the major source of immigrants to economically advanced countries (OECD) outside of Europe. More than half of the world’s migrants are college educated, and nearly half are female.

Where Do They Go?

The US is the country that receives the most immigrants (hosting 39 million migrants in 2005). However, in Australia and in Canada, they represent 21.3% and 19.5% of the population respectively, as compared to 13% in the US. In Europe, there are 64 million migrants, compared to 45 million in Northern America.

In addition, Western Asia, which hosts 22 million, as well as countries like China, Malaysia, the Republic of Korea, Thailand and Japan have become popular destinations.

Economic Impact?

According to estimates, migrants sent US$167,000,000,000 home to developing countries in 2005. The economic effect of such remittances may be multiplied by 2 or 2.5, since they stimulate the economies in these countries, for example, by creating a market for local businesses when the money is used for consumption. Hence, their impact is estimated to somewhere between one third and one half a trillion US dollars (1.5 to 2 times Norway’s GDP [gross domestic product]).

However, migration isn’t only beneficial to countries whose inhabitants migrate; the labour force in the developed world will diminish quite a lot in the foreseeable future, due to their demographic evolution. As a result, only 20% (as compared to 40% in 1996) of the receiving countries plan on reducing incoming migrant flows, while 50% hope to maintain the current levels of immigration.


Reading Statistics

Use these links to find answers to the questions below.

International Migration Profiles  

Migration Information from Datahub 

  1. The statistics quoted in the text are from 2005, since then, has migration increased or decreased, a) to Europe b) to the USA
  2. Has the percentage foreign-born population in, a) Australia and b) Canada increased or decreased from 2005 to 2010? By how much?
  3. By what percentage has the percentage foreign-born population of Norway changed from 2005 - 2010?
  4. Where do the majority of the migrants go a) from Europe b) from Northern America?
  5. What are the two main destinations for migrants a) from the Americas b) from Africa?
  6. How many migrants are there from Asia? Where do most of them reside? What percentage resides in the Americas and in Europe?
  7. Find the 2010 statistics for world migration:
    • What was the total number of migrants?
    • Which area received the most migrants?
    • How many migrants resided in Asia?
    • What percentage of migrants resided in Oceania?

Who is responsible for these two sources of statistical information? Would you evaluate them as reliable? Why/why not?



Aftenposten reported on 13 March, 2012, that by 2040 almost 50% of Oslo’s residents and 25% on a national basis would be immigrants or the Norwegian-born children of immigrants. Immigrant population in Oslo 
Discuss in pairs or small groups the consequences and challenges associated with this prognosis (communication, education, employment, integration, Norwegian culture, etc.). Make notes on your conclusions.



An English newspaper would like you to comment on Aftenposten's news report. Work with a partner and make an interview where one is the newspaper reporter and one the interviewee. Use your notes from the discussion above. The reporter should prepare five or six questions.