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Inequality is driving migration, as poorer populations become better connected and more aware of opportunities. Nearly two-thirds of the world’s international migrants were living in high-income countries as of 2020, according to United Nations statistics, and refugees comprised only about 3% of these international migrant populations. Most of the people migrating are doing so in order to seek a better life. They are in search of better incomes, and means of securing basic food and shelter, and they are motivated by factors that are fundamental to the operation of any healthy civil society: the rule of law; safeguards to help prevent or limit corruption; access to health and education services; and protection from human rights abuses. In countries that are significant sources of migration, inequality remains pervasive or entrenched. The effects of economic inequality are far reaching; a person’s ability to earn a decent living is overwhelmingly determined by the country where he or she lives, and a typical worker in a poor country is about $10,000-less-productive annually than they would be in a rich country, according to a working paper published by the Center for Global Development. Relatively poorer populations around the world have been gaining increased visibility of the inequality they are subjected to, as digital communication becomes more available even in traditionally impoverished and marginalized societies. In Afghanistan, for example, where GDP per capita was still only about $370 as of 2021 (compared with $4,000 in neighbouring Iran, or $1,500 in Pakistan), according to World Bank data, the mobile phone subscription rate per 100 people surged from about 5 as of 2005 to nearly 60 by 2020 - and that was still one of the lowest rates recorded globally (by way of comparison, Tajikistan’s rate had reached 111 by 2017). Unfortunately, this same spread of digital connectivity and access to messaging and social media platforms has helped to disseminate harmful misinformation about migrants and refugees. According to an article published by the Migration Policy Institute, not long after the massive displacement from Ukraine to other countries began following Russia’s invasion in early 2022, rumours and hoaxes about Ukrainian refugees began spreading online - sometimes falsely accusing them of committing crimes.

Inequality and Uneven Development


Increasing significance of migration