Contrary to public perception, the migrant share of the world population has not changed substantially since the 1960s, with roughly 3 percent currently living in a country different from their country of birth. Global migration patterns, however, have become increasingly asymmetric as high-skilled migration has become a greater force globally. The international distribution of talent thus is highly skewed, and the resources available to countries to develop and utilize their best and brightest vary substantially.
The migration of skilled workers across countries tilts the deck even further. High-skilled migration has increased at a larger rate than low-skilled migration. The approximately 28 million high-skilled migrants that were residing in OECD countries in 2010 represent an increase of nearly 130 percent since 1990, while low-skilled migrants increased by only 40 percent during that time. From the average sending country, tertiary-educated people are four times more likely to emigrate than less-skilled people.
The distribution of high-skilled migration is also heavily skewed. Four Anglo-Saxon countries (US, UK, Canada and Australia) account for nearly 70 percent of high-skilled migrants to OECD countries in 2010. The United States alone has historically hosted close to half of all high-skilled migrants to the OECD and one-third of high-skilled migrants worldwide. The globalization of economic ties is also leading to a rise in shorter-term and circular migration patterns for skilled labor. For example, executives of global corporations are often required to spend part of their careers abroad.