Viruses, violent conflicts and a host of other regional calamities helped revive peoples’ desire to migrate permanently to another country between the years 2013 and 2016 as the number of potential migrants climbed to 710 million, according to a Gallup poll.
Globally, 14% of the world’s adults wish to migrate, with the highest rates seen in sub-Saharan Africa (30%) and areas of Europe outside the European Union (21%), followed by Latin America and the Caribbean (18%), the Middle East and North Africa (19%), the European Union (20%), Commonwealth of Independent States (15%), Australia, New Zealand, Oceania (9%) and North America (10%).
The lowest rates were found in Asia, starting with South Asia (8%), East Asia (8%) and Southeast Asia (7%).
Regions that saw the largest increase were areas of Europe outside the EU, which rose by 6 percentage points, the Caribbean and Latin America, which climbed 5 percentage points, and the Middle East and North Africa.
While still not back to the 16% Gallup measured between 2007 and 2009, the desire to migrate has risen in several regions thanks to the slowing post-crisis economic recovery.
The Gallup poll revealed that in 31 countries throughout the world, at least three in 10 adults say they would move permanently if they could. These countries and areas are found in every region except Asia, Oceania and Northern America. At 62%, Sierra Leone had the highest rate of dissatisfaction with current circumstances, likely thanks to the 2014 ebola outbreak. Haiti and Albania tied for second at 56%, with Liberia coming in fourth at 54%.
The US continues to be the most desired destination for potential migrants, as it has been since Gallup started tracking desire to migrate a decade ago. One in five potential migrants name the US as their desired future residence, followed by Germany, Canada, the UK, France, Australia and Saudi Arabia.
While the number of potential migrants who’d prefer America hasn’t changed significantly from previous years, the number who’d prefer Germany has risen massively – from 28 million to 39 million, likely thanks to Chancellor Angela Merkel's vow to take in refugees, a decision that led to a 50% rise in migrant crime.
Interestingly enough, the UK lost some of its appeal as a desired destination after Brexit, a decision that was largely based on stemming the tide of immigration to Britain. The poll showed that approximately 35 million potential migrants named the UK as their desired location, down from 43 million between 2010 and 2012.
The rise in the desire to migrate likely reflects the increasing unrest in some parts of the world, where war, famine, disaster and disease are plentiful. It’s possible that the US could lose some of its appeal because of Trump, Gallup said,though that seems unlikely; with about 147 million would-be migrants saying the US is their preferred destination, it holds the number-one spot by a considerable margin.