With the discovery of oil and the consequent rise in living standards, Kuwait acquired a large immigrant population, attracted by jobs, free education for their children, and free medical care. The number of foreign residents more than doubled during the 1970s, and in 1994 they accounted for an estimated 56.4% of the population. After the Persian Gulf war, Kuwait deported tens of thousands of foreign workers from countries whose leaders had backed Iraq in the conflict. Of the estimated 400,000 Palestinians living in Kuwait before the 1990–91 Gulf War, reportedly only about one-sixth were allowed to remain. Only about 120,000 of the 220,000 prewar Bedouins (mostly nomads from Syria, Jordan, and Iraq) were allowed to stay. These stateless Arabs had remained in Kuwait under Iraqi occupation and were suspected of collaboration. Most other foreign workers were able to return to their home countries. By 1996, however, Egyptians, Pakistanis, Filipinos and others had filled the void that the previous foreign workers left behind.
In 2000 there were 1,108,000 migrants living in Kuwait. This accounted for 57.9% of the population. The number of refugees that year was 2,800. In 2000, the net migration rate was 11.1 migrants per 1,000 population. The government views the immigration level as too high.