How many — and where do — Filipinos live and work overseas?

Most Filipino-Americans have relatives, or at least know someone personally, who work abroad.  We know about the Filipino professionals — nurses, doctors, architects, engineers, accountants (and most recently, teachers) — the seafarers and those in the merchant marine trade, as well as construction laborers.  However, the majority of overseas workers are women who apply for domestic jobs.

It is estimated that about 11% (from 9 to 11 million) of the Philippine population work overseas, and send money home to support their families.  Although India, China and Mexico receive more remittance money from overseas workers, remittances sent by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) represent the largest proportion — almost 14% —  of their country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) — making overseas Filipino workers one of the largest contributors to the Philippine economy.

Here are the numbers:

Flag of the Philippines.svg
11,000,000+ estimates
Regions with significant populations
 United States 2,877,666
 Saudi Arabia 1,159,003
 Malaysia 900,000
 Canada 639,686
 UAE 609,704
 Japan 350,972
 Australia 336,140
 Qatar 263,980
 Spain 241,268
 United Kingdom 200,987
 Mexico 200,000
 Hong Kong 168,550
 Singapore 163,090
 Kuwait 155,744
 Italy 119,508
 Taiwan 94,283
 South Korea 81,395
 Germany 55,309
 Greece 51,656
 Bahrain 50,695
 France 50,013
 Oman 41,000
 Israel 39,002
 Jordan 32,896
 Lebanon 31,348
 Austria 29,824
 New Zealand 27,139
 Libya 23,713
 Guam 23,563
 Switzerland 22,431
 Norway 20,683
 Cyprus 20,284
Information from the Philippine Government and other sources in Wikipedia. Click on this link to the Wikipedia site “Overseas Filipino” for more details.

It was interesting to learn that there are over 1 million OFWs in Saudi Arabia (my cousin J.R. among them).  Also, the high number of Filipino workers in Malaysia and the UAE – United Arab Emirates, and the presence of OFWs in Norway and Switzerland.

Also see Lola Jane’s Filipino population related post: Chameleons: Why Filipinos live and work in just about every country in the world

More Philippine related post from this Lola, are here… including:

And if you are curious about what parts of the United States have established Filipino populations, click here to see the U.S. Census Bureau graphic that show states and percentage of Filipino populations) on my post about the Philippine-based Jollibee restaurant chain.

~ Lola Jane

14 thoughts on “How many — and where do — Filipinos live and work overseas?

  1. Does this number represent “the” entire population in UAE? do you have any idea how many Filipinos actually have jobs in abu Dhabi?


    • Hi Mikz,

      The data is on UAE’s Filipino OFW population and is from the Philippine government. The United Arab Emirates OFW population is now listed as 636,154 — or 14.9% of all OFWs by place of work.

      In the Asia region (which includes the Middle East), there are over 2.2 million Filipino OFWs working mostly in Saudi Arabia, followed by the UAE.

      It is interesting that during 2012, approximately 80% of the remittances from Filipino OFWs came from only 7 countries —- one is the UAE, the others are the United States and Canada, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and Japan.

      For specifics on how many Filipinos in total live in the UAE or have jobs in Abu Dhabi, you may want to contact the Philippine embassy office in the United Arab Emirates (located in Abu Dhabi) at Villa No. 8, Street 8, Sector 94, Zone 2, Abu Dhabi, UAEP P. O. Box 3215, Telephone no: 02658-2889(POLO); 02639-0023(OWWA) or click here to visit their website.

      This article is one of’s more popular posts, and I will update the data and post this spring!

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