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70 Million in CIS Would Migrate Temporarily for Work, Study

70 Million in CIS Would Migrate Temporarily for Work, Study

by Neli Esipova and Julie Ray

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Roughly one in four adults in 12 former Soviet nations say they would like to move to another country for temporary work (24%) or to study or take part in a work-study program (25%) if they had the opportunity to do so. Together, an estimated 70 million desire to migrate for either of these reasons or for both. Half has many -- approximately 30 million -- would like to leave their countries permanently.


Gallup in 2009 asked about these three types of migration in 10 Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) member countries, associate CIS member Turkmenistan, and former CIS member Georgia. The desire to migrate temporarily for work or for study is higher than the desire to migrate permanently in all subregions, but the levels of desire vary widely across countries.

The desire to study or take part in a work-study program in another country or to move to another country permanently is the highest in Armenia, which has one of the largest diasporas in the world. More Armenians are estimated to live outside the country than in it. Only Moldovans are roughly as likely as Armenians to say they would like to migrate permanently if given the chance.


In countries where residents are among the most likely to want to migrate permanently, the percentage of respondents who say they have people outside their own countries whom they rely on is also higher. A majority of Moldovans (54%) and about a third of Armenians (32%) and Belarusians (30%) say they have relatives or friends living in another country whom they can count on for help.

The desire to migrate for temporary work is highest in Moldova, where 53% of residents report they would move for this reason if they could. High unemployment and dependency on remittances, in addition to the likelihood that a family member is already working in another country, likely contribute to this relatively high percentage. Moldovans are among the most likely to say at least one member of their household is working in another country temporarily (28%) and to say their household received money or goods from someone living outside their country or both inside and outside the country in the past year (23%).



From the Caucasus to Central Asia, the desire to migrate temporarily for work or to study in another country is more common than the desire to leave one's country for good. Further, about two-thirds (68%) of those who want to leave temporarily do not want to migrate permanently. These findings suggest that these countries should view efforts to help temporary workers, such as providing them with necessary skills and language training before they leave, as investments in their country's future. Not only will temporary workers send remittances while they are in another country, but most of them want to return -- and when they do, they return with potentially valuable new experience and knowledge.

In light of these findings, bilateral agreements between destination and source countries that make moving back and forth easier for potential migrants become even more important. Future articles will examine the similarities and differences in desired destinations among these potential migrants.

For complete data sets or custom research from the more than 150 countries Gallup continually surveys, please contact or call 202.715.3030.

Survey Methods

Results are based on 13,200 face-to-face interviews with adults, aged 15 and older, conducted in 2009. A minimum of 1,000 interviews were conducted in each of the following countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. For results based on each country-level sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of error ranged from a low of ±2.8 percentage points in Russia to a high of ±3.9 percentage points in Kyrgyzstan. For results based on the total sample and regions, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of error is between ±1 and ±2 percentage points. The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls. Results are projected to the total population of each country, aged 15 and older, using 2008 World Bank population estimates.

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