IOM Migration Profile for Jamaica Provides a Comprehensive Overview
The latest installment of the IOM Migration Profiles, which focuses
on Jamaica, confirms that immigrants in the labour force do not
stay for an extended period in the country, and a high emigration
rate continues, although much less than in the previous decades of
the 1970s to 1990s as emigration opportunities have been reduced.
From the 1970s to the 1990s, the number of Jamaicans moving to
the United States (US) accounted for 80.33 per cent of all
Jamaicans living abroad. Over the same period, migration from
Jamaica to Canada accounted for 16.96 per cent and 2.71 per cent to
the United Kingdom (UK).
The vast majority of Jamaican migrants are able-bodied and
skilled persons, aged between 15 and 64.
Between 2001 and 2010 an estimated 216,200 Jamaicans were living
abroad. More Jamaicans were estimated to have left the
country between 2000 and 2003 compared with the 2007–2010
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in Jamaica : A Country Profile 2010
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International Migration Profile (Presentation)
The IOM Migration Profile reports that the loss of professionals
migrating to the US and Canada has been partly compensated through
immigration, mainly of Commonwealth citizens, especially from the
Indian subcontinent and CARICOM states to Jamaica. In the
year 2000, there were 5,727 non-Jamaican Caribbean persons in the
country, which accounted for 22.7 per cent of the total
non-national stock in the country.
By the 1990s the number of Jamaicans migrating to the US had
fallen to approximately one third of the average for the
1970s. Migration to Canada also declined significantly in the
1980s, with a slight increase in the 1990s. Movement to the
UK, which had already declined dramatically by 1970, continued to
decline through the 1980s and 1990s.
Official data compiled for the Profile confirms that in addition
to the overall decline in numbers of Jamaican emigrants going to
the US and Canada, there was also a decline in the percentage of
those in the professional, executive, administrative and managerial
category. In the case of the US, the professional,
administrative and managerial category of migrants decreased from
around 23 per cent in the 1970s to less than 15 per cent in the
Migration to Canada also declined amongst Jamaican
professionals, from around 13 per cent of the total in the 1970s,
to under 10 per cent in the 1990s.
But the large number of nurses and teachers migrating to the US,
Canada and the UK has had a negative impact on the health and
A new trend is the return of a considerable number of Jamaicans
returning home. Migrants retuning home voluntarily enter the
labour force or start business ventures; those returning for
retirement contribute to the economy through investment in housing
and also engage in voluntary activities in local communities,
assisting both materially and socially.
Deportees, mainly from the US and the UK, also make up a large
numbers of those returning home. The Profile emphasizes that
this group requires considerable assistance for their reintegration
into Jamaican society and especially into the labour force.
The global economic downturn has significantly affected the
labour market in Jamaica. Domestic economic activities have
contracted, resulting in a reduction of the employed labour
In reference to the amounts of money remitted by migrants
abroad, the Profile explains that although individual sums received
are typically very small, overall, remittances contributed 14 per
cent of GDP in 2010. Remittances are mostly used for
household and living expenses, alleviating poverty, with very small
amounts directed into saving and investment.
The Profile suggests that attractive financial instruments and
other inducements are needed to encourage significant savings and
investment in national programmes. Policies to link the
diaspora to promote international trade in goods and services,
including tourism, and for the potential transfer of expertise in
required fields, are also recommended.
IOM’s migration profiles (MP) provide a descriptive
analysis of the main migration characteristics and trends in the
country based on the available data and information. The
Profiles are intended to become a tool for the governments to
enhance knowledge on migration issues; identify gaps in data; and
provide the basis for coherence in the development of migration
policies to effectively manage migration in the interest of
This Migration Profile is part of the EU-funded project
“Strengthening the Dialogue and Cooperation Between the
European Union, Latin America and the Caribbean to Establish
Management Models on Migration and Development Policy”.
The complete IOM Migration Profile for Jamaica can be found at
For more information please contact