- Record-low 9% of Ukrainians desire to leave their country for good
- Canada, U.S. and Poland top desired destinations for those who want to move
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Before Russia invaded Ukraine a year ago, more Ukrainians than ever said they would like to leave Ukraine permanently. But that desire quickly faded after the war began, and now, most Ukrainians do not want to leave even if they could.
A record-low 9% of Ukrainians surveyed in September of last year -- almost seven months into Russia’s war with their country -- said they would like to leave Ukraine permanently, which is down sharply from a record-high 35% just the year before.
Gallup collected these data Sept. 2-11 among Ukrainians who currently reside in Ukraine, including those who had been internally displaced to other areas within their country by the war.
The survey represents views across Ukraine, including the four occupied regions in the country's south and east, where Russia launched referendums on Sept. 23 to annex them and later declared martial law. Notably, before either of these developments, desire to migrate was only marginally higher in the country’s east (12%) and west (12%).
Desire to Leave at Record Lows Among Ukrainians From All Walks of Life
Desire dropped precipitously across most demographics of Ukrainians in 2022. The largest declines were evident among younger Ukrainians -- who in past surveys have usually been the most likely to want to leave. Before the war, nearly half of Ukrainians (45%) younger than age 50 expressed a desire to leave their country for good, but by last fall, these figures had dropped to just 13%.
Shortly after the war began, Ukraine banned men of fighting age -- those between the ages of 18 and 60 -- from leaving the country. This ban may have factored into the drop in men’s desire to leave, which declined from 38% in 2021 to 13% in 2022. However, women’s desire to migrate dropped just as much, falling from 32% to 6% within the same period.
Canada, U.S. and Poland Top Desired Destinations for Those Who Want to Move
Shortly after Russia invaded, millions of Ukrainians -- mostly women and children -- began fleeing Ukraine for other countries, including bordering countries to the west. Although several million returned home within months, in October 2022, the United Nations estimated 7.6 million Ukrainian refugees were still spread across Europe, including nearly 3 million in Russia.
Although relatively few Ukrainians desire to move, if they do, they are most likely to name Canada (19%), the U.S. (16%) and Poland (16%) -- which has taken in more Ukrainian refugees than any other country -- as their most desired place to move. In a departure from years past, no potential migrants in Ukraine named Russia or Belarus as a desired destination.
Despite the stream of refugees who left Ukraine in the months after the war broke out, few Ukrainians interviewed in Ukraine late last year were interested in making a permanent move to another country. Even if everyone who left and did not return to Ukraine were people who wanted to migrate previously, it would still not account for the 26-percentage-point drop in Ukrainians’ desire to migrate in 2022. Instead, this lack of interest may reflect a heightened sense of patriotism among Ukrainians with their country at war and a reluctance to move.
Still, even as Ukrainians have rallied around their institutions and remained committed to victory, surveys in Ukraine later this year will show how much the protracted conflict has tested their resolve.
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For complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.
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