WASHINGTON, D.C. -- About 13% of the world's adults -- or more than 640 million people -- say they would like to leave their country permanently. Roughly 150 million of them say they would like to move to the U.S. -- giving it the undisputed title as the world's most desired destination for potential migrants since Gallup started tracking these patterns in 2007.
In addition to the nearly one in 30 adults worldwide who would like to permanently relocate to the U.S., large numbers are attracted to the United Kingdom (45 million), Canada (42 million), France (32 million), and Saudi Arabia (31 million).
Gallup's latest findings on adults' desire to move to other countries are based on a rolling average of interviews with 452,199 adults in 151 countries between 2009 and 2011. The 151 countries represent more than 97% of the world's adult population.
Who Wants to Move to the U.S.?
Potential migrants who say they would like to move to the U.S. are most likely to come from populous countries such as China (22 million), Nigeria (15 million), India (10 million), Bangladesh (8 million), or Brazil (7 million).
However, not all of the most populous countries in the world have large groups of people who want to move to the U.S. Highly populated countries including Pakistan, Turkey, and Thailand are home to far fewer people who want to move to the U.S.
Despite large numbers of people in China, Nigeria, and India who want to migrate permanently to the U.S., these countries are not necessarily the places where the U.S. is the most desired destination. Gallup found that more than three in 10 adults in Liberia (37%) and Sierra Leone (30%) would move permanently to the U.S. if they had the opportunity. More than 20% of adults in the Dominican Republic (26%), Haiti (24%), and Cambodia (22%) also say the same.
Gallup finds that potential migrants aspire to move to countries all over the world, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Saudi Arabia, and the U.S. for the simple reason that they are in search of opportunity. Opportunity could mean the chance to join family members who are already in other countries, to start a new business, to express one's views without fear, or to live where children are treated with respect.
While opportunity is the most common theme for all potential migrants worldwide, they might be drawn to the U.S. for another reason. Gallup finds that 81% of all Americans say their communities are good places for immigrants. When compared with other countries in the world where Gallup has surveyed, the U.S. ranks very favorably on this metric of openness. The reason the U.S. is such a highly desired destination for potential migrants, in addition to being the land of opportunity, could be that many Americans are accepting of migrants in their communities.
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 452,199 adults, aged 15 and older, in 151 countries from 2009 to 2011. The 151 countries surveyed represent 97% 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 640 million adults worldwide who would like to migrate are 634 million and 646 million.
For more complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.