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Gallup Vault: When Many in Europe Wanted to Flee
Gallup Vault

Gallup Vault: When Many in Europe Wanted to Flee

"If all restrictions against emigration were withdrawn overnight, millions of people in the leading countries of Europe -- France, Holland, England and others -- would want to pull up stakes and move out of their war-wracked homes to find a more peaceful life in another country." So wrote Dr. George Gallup Jr. on April 7, 1948, in his report on Gallup polling in six European countries after World War II.

If you were free to do so, would you like to go and settle in another country?
Move% Stay% No opinion%
England 42 53 5
Holland 33 56 11
Italy 29 64 7
Norway 28 66 6
France 25 72 3
Sweden 13 85 2
United States 4 94 2
Note: U.S. results are based on survey conducted March 19-24, 1948; survey dates for European countries are not available
Gallup poll, 1948

In fact, sizable minorities in five of the six European countries in which Gallup polled wanted to "go and settle in another country," ranging from 25% in France to 42% in England. Only in Sweden was this sentiment significantly lower, at 13%, but this was not as low as the 4% in the U.S.

Although the poll was taken roughly three years after the conclusion of World War II, it was before the United States' Marshall Plan had provided the funds the United Kingdom and the Continent needed to rebuild their badly damaged cities and infrastructure. Europe was also dealing with a huge postwar refugee problem. And in the case of the U.K., the war had made it a debtor nation, and complex economic problems compelled the government to nationalize many industries.

Of course, much has transpired in the past 68 years that makes it hard to compare migration desires in 1948 to those of today. Still, it is useful to note that the percentages wanting to leave France, Italy and Sweden in 1948 are similar to what the Gallup World Poll has found in those countries in the past decade. By contrast, Dutch, Norwegian and British adults' postwar yearning to leave was much greater than what Gallup has recently recorded. Most notably, the 42% wanting to leave England in 1948 far exceeds the 29% expressing this desire in the U.K. in 2012. In fact, it is remarkably close to the 46% of adults in Syria who told Gallup last year that they want to move.

These data can be found in Gallup Analytics.

Read more from the Gallup Vault.

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