Skip to main content
Available in English

International migration and sustainable development in the Caribbean: an analysis of data trends from 2000 to 2020

Publication cover

International migration and sustainable development in the Caribbean: an analysis of data trends from 2000 to 2020

Author: León, Daniel - Abdulkadri, Abdullahi Physical Description: 76 pages Editorial: ECLAC Date: January 2024 ECLAC symbol: LC/TS.2023/195


This study assesses international migration trends in 28 Caribbean countries from 2000 to 2020 and discusses the implications of these trends for different aspects of sustainable development in the subregion. It is well-documented that the Caribbean is a subregion that has exhibited net emigration, but this trend has intensified over the last two decades, with Global North regions representing the main destination of Caribbean emigrants. Although immigration to the Caribbean increased from 2000 to 2020, this increase was less substantial than that recorded for emigration from the subregion. By 2020, intra-Caribbean migration stocks accounted for just over half of all immigration stocks in the subregion, showing growing intra-Caribbean mobility of persons.

International migration trends in the Caribbean, particularly emigration from the subregion, have implications for the subregion’s sustainable development, and these are reflected in indicators such as international financial flows, demographic dynamics, and labour productivity. In general, the high net emigrant stock of the Caribbean directly correlates with remittance inflows to the subregion. Furthermore, many countries of the subregion with ageing populations stand to gain from increased immigration as it rejuvenates their labour forces. However, with highly skilled labour constituting a large and growing proportion of the net emigrant stocks, the resulting brain drain in the Caribbean could have a more profound impact on the sustainable development of the subregion. Available data showed that most countries with net emigration during the period covered by this study experienced negative or stagnant labour productivity levels. Considering the importance of quality data in assessing international migration trends, it is pertinent to collect, analyse, and disseminate international migration data in the Caribbean following international standards and best practices to facilitate optimal use of the subregion’s international migration statistics.

This study has revealed some advances and gaps among Caribbean countries in producing international migration data. Some Caribbean countries have included questions on international migration in their national censuses, household surveys, and labour force surveys. Nevertheless, gaps remain in collecting international migration indicators, especially those related to labour and international university student mobility. Leveraging administrative data, inter-agency coordination, and international cooperation can help countries improve the collection of international migration data, thereby enhancing national statistical capacity in the Caribbean.

Table of contents

Introduction .-- I. Background .-- II. International migration trends in the Caribbean .-- III. The relationships between international migration and sustainable development in the Caribbean .-- IV. Leveraging statistics to build the evidence base on international migration in the Caribbean .-- V. Conclusion.