WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Of the roughly 630 million of the world's adults who desire to move to other countries, less than one-tenth of them -- about 48 million adults -- tell Gallup they are planning to move in the next 12 months. Less than half of those who are planning to move -- about 19 million adults -- are taking necessary steps such as applying for visas or residency and purchasing tickets.
These findings, and others highlighted in the new report, "Gallup World Poll: The Many Faces of Global Migration," are based on a rolling average of interviews with 401,490 adults in 146 countries between 2008 and 2010. The 146 countries represent more than 93% of the world's adult population.
Potential migrants in the Middle East and North Africa were the most likely worldwide to say they plan to leave their countries permanently in the next 12 months. While more than one in five adults (21%) in the Middle East and North Africa overall said they would migrate permanently to another country if they had the chance, one in six of them said they were planning to do so in the near term.
Twelve percent of potential migrant adults in sub-Saharan Africa said they are planning to move to another country permanently in the next year, while 10% of potential migrant adults in the Americas said these were their plans. In all other major regions, the percentage planning to move is in the single digits.
The Most Educated, Those Working at Capacity, and Professionals Prepping to Leave
The people countries would most like to retain or attract -- those with high levels of education, professional workers, and those already employed at capacity -- are the most likely to say they are making preparations to migrate such as applying for visas or residency and purchasing tickets. This may partly reflect their greater likelihood of having the means to move, but still provides insight into who is motivated to take the necessary steps.
While education makes a significant difference among those preparing to leave, it makes little difference among those who say they are planning to migrate. Among those planning to migrate in the next 12 months, those in the most educated group are nearly twice as likely as those in other education groups to say they are actively preparing to leave.
Those who are employed at capacity are the most likely to say they are making the necessary preparations to move. Although the underemployed are often the most likely to say they would like to migrate permanently and say they are planning to go, they are actually the least likely to say they are taking steps to migrate.
Worldwide, those whose work falls under the "professional" category, which includes professions such as lawyers, doctors, managers, business owners, and office workers, are more likely to desire to migrate than those who are "not employed" or those whose work falls into a category other than "professional." A majority (54%) of "professionals" who are planning to migrate in the next year say they are actively preparing to move.
No one factor explains why some people only dream of migrating, while others go. Many factors can influence the situation. Potential migrants' personal circumstances such as their finances, health, family situation, and their job status can keep them home or push them out the door. Migration policies -- or lack thereof -- can also create so many roadblocks to leaving or entering a country that potential migrants become discouraged. Yet Gallup's surveys show millions are actively preparing to leave their homelands for good -- and it is often the best and brightest that their homelands would like to see stay.
For complete data sets or custom research from the more than 150 countries Gallup continually surveys, please contact SocialandEconomicAnalysis@gallup.com or call 202.715.3030.
Results are based on aggregated telephone and face-to-face interviews with 401,490 adults, aged 15 and older, in 146 countries from 2008 to 2010. The 146 countries surveyed represent 93% of the world's adult population. One can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error for the entire sample, accounting for weighting and sample design, is less than ±1 percentage point. The lower and upper bounds for the projected 630 million adults worldwide who would like to migrate are 618 million and 643 million.
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.
For more complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.