• This data sheet also in French and Spanish.

(August 2006) Each year, nearly 3 million migrants move from poor countries to wealthier ones. Increasingly, however, more of this migration will occur between developing countries, such as that occurring from Bangladesh to India, or from India, Egypt, and Yemen to the Persian Gulf States.

The Population Reference Bureau's 2006 World Population Data Sheet provides new information on the forces shaping migration rates around the world. As long as high birth rates and poverty continue to place pressure on populations, migrants will see advantages to moving to countries with more resources and greater opportunities. While the sending countries may miss the migrants' contributions, countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom can benefit from migrants with much-needed talent—teachers and health care workers.

"Population growth in some developing countries, such as South Korea, is slowing dramatically, while others continue to grow," says Bill Butz, PRB's president. "Migration across the borders of these developing countries may increase."

  • Many developing countries experience inflows of people from other developing countries. This "south-south" migration, from Guatemala to Mexico for example, occurs for the same reasons people migrate to developed countries.

  • Most European countries, along with Asian nations such as Japan, face the challenge of raising their extremely low birth rates or developing immigration policies and social programs that benefit both their country and its immigrants.

  • In the United States, even with a large number of immigrants, natural increase (births minus deaths) accounts for 60% of population growth. If these patterns continue, the U.S. will likely remain the world's third-largest country (behind India and China ) through 2050.

"There are larger demographic differences among the world's countries than ever before," says Carl Haub, PRB senior demographer and author of the 2006 World Population Data Sheet. "The demographic, health, and economic contrasts among the United States, Japan, and Nigeria illustrate this diversity and the differing challenges faced by rich and poor countries."

The 2006 World Population Data Sheet provides up-to-date demographic, health, and environment data for all the countries and major regions of the world. Other highlights:

  • World population growth will continue. World population has reached 6.6 billion in 2006, up from 6 billion in 1999, and is heading toward 8 billion by 2025. Ninety-nine percent of that growth will be in developing countries.

  • Globally, HIV/AIDS prevalence is lower than previously estimated. But prevalence remains catastrophically high in many countries such as 24% in Botswana, and 20% in Zimbabwe.

  • Too many people still lack access to improved sanitation. Around 2.5 billion people do not have access to improved sanitation. Countries are behind in meeting the targets of the Millennium Development Goal to reduce by one-half, by 2015, the proportion of people without access to sanitation and to safe drinking water.

  • Fertility declines have stalled in some countries. In countries such as Kenya and Ghana, fertility rates have hit plateaus after earlier substantial declines.

  • U.S. population continues to diversify. The number of foreign-born in the United States has reached an all-time high, even though the percent foreign-born is lower than it was in 1910.

  • An estimated 4.3 people are born every second around the world.