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Friday, March 2, 2012

Gallup World Poll: The Many Faces of Global Migration

This is a great read.  A lot of what we read about migration consists of "after the action" reports.  We wait until the dust settles and then try to figure what happened.  This is one of the first proactive reports I've read that tries to measure how many people are contemplating migration and how many actually do it.  The Many Faces of Global Migration came out of world polls that Gallup has been conducting since 2005 in over 150 countries.  For this report they polled/interviewed 750,000 people.  Here are a few of their findings:
  • Out of a world population of around 7 billion people, 630 million want to move permanently to another country.
  • A much larger percentage, 1.1 billion adults, in the world want to go work and live in another country temporarily.
  • As many as 500 million people will be forced to migrate to other countries because of severe environmental problems in their home countries.
After reading these numbers, please tell Claude Gueant to relax - of the 630 million people who want to move permanently, only 48 million of them have plans to move in the next year or so.

How strong is the desire to migrate and what regions are likely to have large numbers of emigrants?
The desire to migrate is clearly strong in sub-Saharan Africa but the numbers are down from previous years, from 38% to 33% of adults in that region in 2011.  Same trend in Latin America where the percentage of adults wishing to migrate dropped from 23% to 20% and in South-East Asia from 12% to 9%.  The EU is steady at 20% and North America (U.S. and Canada) is also holding at 10%.

And where do these people want to go?  Not surprisingly, North America and the EU are top destinations:  188 million and 178 million respectively.

The most interesting part of the report for me was a section they called "Personal Gains and Losses from Migration." They evaluated the experiences of long-term migrants in 15 European countries between 2009 and 2010 and they matched them with people in their home country who had the same demographic profile.  The idea was to determine how much these migrants really gained from their migration journey.  Did they think they did better in the EU or would they have had similar lives if they had stayed home?  That is a darn good question. 
Gallup found that the gains and losses that migrant long-timers experience largely
depend on the level of human development in their home countries. The bigger the
development gap between their home countries and highly developed European Union
countries, the bigger the likely gains and losses for these migrants.
Long-timers who moved to the European Union from countries with medium and
low human development see sizeable gains in their evaluations of their current lives.
However, at the same time, long-timers from medium and low development
countries are no better off when it comes to their expectations of how their future
lives would be had they stayed home....their perceptions of living comfortably and optimism about standard of living are lower. One possible explanation is that migrants’ expectations about their living standards rose when they moved to their new country
They see gains but are not optimistic about their own future compared to what they might have had.  Their optimism is reserved for their children who they believe will be better off in the host country.

I was a bit disappointed here.  It is such a good question and I think they could have done a much better job in the report of developing the topic further.   And what about migrants from high development countries?  No mention of them but surely there is something to say, if only to state that they found no difference at all between their lives as migrants and their unrealized lives in the home country. 

If any of you do read the report, I would love to get your take on it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I guess one has to take several parameters to evaluate it besides income and standard of living and kids' education. I have friends who moved back because they wanted to raise their kids in their host country so that they grow in that cultural environment. Some moved because of severe winters and that their parents were finding it difficult to be there. Some moved because of difficult visa issues for dependents (parents). Some moved because of connection with family and friends. All these are movements from the west to a developing world. I am interested in knowing why people move from EU to the US and vice-versa.