There is plenty of statistical candy to consume in the CIA Factbook‘s latest net migration figures. We had no idea, for example, that people were actually flocking to strife-torn Cyprus, or that Grenadians were so hot to leave the erstwhile Isle of Spice. But what really struck us was a stat that harkens back to a topic of discussion last week: the sheer magnitude of the Guyanese diaspora.
According to the CIA, Guyana’s net migration rate last year was an astronomical -17.31 per every thousand residents. Only a few South Pacific specks saw people flee at a greater clip, though those nations’ figures are obviously skewed by their tiny populations. If we confine ourselves to looking only at countries with populations in excess of 100,000, then Guyana is the undisputed king of exporting human beings.
As this report from the Migration Policy Institute shows, Guayana’s population would swell by over 54 percent if all of its departed citizens returned home—and that doesn’t count the children those Guyanese migrants have had abroad. It’s also worth noting that the most educated Guyanese citizens are the one most likely to skedaddle; 85.9 percent of those with college degrees vote with their feet to move elsewhere.
The departed send plenty of money back home, to the point that remittances form 22 percent of GDP. But the figure on the chart above that really caught our eye is the one comparing remittances to foreign direct investment. As you can see, remittances dwarf the amount of cash that foreigners pump into Guyana’s economy, which strikes us as a very big problem. Investors see Guyana as a hostile place to do business, largely due to major governmental corruption and a lack of adequate policing. Yet unlike other nations bedeviled by similar problems, Guyana has a relatively quick and easy immigration pipeline to the U.S. and Canada, two of the most prosperous nations on Earth. (Some of this human traffic is legal, but illegal movement is common across the border with Suriname.)