When we think of migrants, why not include Einstein and Ronaldo?

Published Date: 
Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Many footballers, Oscar nominees and Nobel laureates are migrants. It’s time to overturn stereotypes about migration. IOM´s GMDAC Jasper Tjaden writes for The Guardian.

When most people hear the word “migration” or “migrants”, they probably think of people crammed on small boats, fleeing to Greece or Italy. I doubt the word “migrant” conjures up images of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kate Winslet or Albert Einstein. That’s not what people mean when they talk about migrants. But it should be.

The most successful football player in the world, an actor in the second most successful film of all time, and one of the smartest people in history are technically all migrants. I’m not cherrypicking here either. My own research shows that 55% of international footballers, almost half of the best actor and best actress Oscar nominees since 2000, and about one third of Nobel prize nominees since 1901 were migrants.

The UN migration agency defines a migrant as “any person who is moving or has moved across an international border or within a state away from his/her habitual place of residence, regardless of legal status; reason/cause for the movement; or length of the stay in the destination country”. The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs counts as “international migrants” people who are living in a country outside of the place where they were born or the country where they hold a passport. The UN recommends that anyone staying in another country for longer than three months can be considered an international migrant.

Ronaldo, Winslet and Einstein would definitely make the cut. Ronaldo is a Portuguese citizen who has been employed in England and Spain for most of his career; Winslet, who is British, has been working in the US and living there for long stretches throughout her career; German Nobel prize winner Einstein worked at Princeton University for more than 20 years and acquired US citizenship in 1940.

The UN estimates that there are approximately 258 million international migrants in the world – that’s 3.4% of the world’s population. But it’s a lot more common in football, acting and academia than on average around the world. People do not often associate migration with the rich and famous, but the data tells a different story.

Read the whole article in The Guardian.