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Publication date: 
February 23, 2022


International migration has increased since 1990, with increasing numbers of migrants originating from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Efforts to explain this compositional shift have focused on wage gaps and other push and pull factors but have not adequately considered the role of demographic factors. In many LMICs, child mortality has fallen without commensurate economic growth and amid high fertility. This combination increases young adult populations and is associated with greater outmigration: in the poorest countries, we estimate that a one-percentage-point increase in the five-year lagged growth rate of the population of 15–24-year-olds was associated with a 15 per cent increase in all-age outmigrants, controlling for other factors. Increases in growth of young adult populations led to 20.4 million additional outmigrants across 80 countries between 1990 and 2015. Understanding the determinants of these migration shifts should help policymakers in origin and destination countries to maximize their potential positive effects.


Bollyky TJ, Graetz N, Dieleman J, Miller-Petrie MK, Schoder D, Joyce S, Guillot M, Hay SI. Growing up and moving out: Migration and the demographic transition in low- and middle-income nations. Population Studies. 23 February 2022. doi: 10.1080/00324728.2022.2034919.