Roughly 138 million people worldwide, or about 2% of the world’s adult population, want to immigrate to the United States. In China, as many as 19 million adults would like to move to the land of opportunity — the largest number of any country. Based on data provided by Gallup, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the seven countries where the most people want to come to the United States.
Not surprisingly, these countries are all among the most populous in the world. All seven are among the 12 largest by population. While the numbers are quite large, given that these countries all have at least 100 million citizens, the percentage of the population looking to move to the U.S. is actually quite small. The 19 million Chinese looking to immigrate to the U.S. amount to just 1% of China’s total population.
In some of the world’s most populous countries, however, very few citizens are looking to immigrate to the U.S. Fewer than 1 million people in Indonesia, the fourth-most populous country in the world, and in Pakistan, the sixth-most populous, want to move to the United States. Much of that likely is due to high disapproval of U.S. leadership. According to Gallup, only 23% of Indonesians support U.S. leadership, while only 12% of Pakistanis do.
The countries with the highest percentage of people who would like to move to U.S. are far different than the countries on this list. The countries with the highest percentage of people looking to immigrate — including Liberia, Haiti and Honduras — tend to be smaller, third-world countries with very little economic opportunity available domestically.
Economic opportunities in many of the seven countries on the list are not plentiful either. Countries such as Bangladesh and Nigeria, both on the list, have far fewer resources to get ahead than in the United States. In 2011, Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP) was $2,582 per capita, while in Bangladesh it was just $1,909. The U.S. GDP per capita was $48,328. None of the countries on this list had a GDP per capita in 2011 that was even a third of that in the United States.
For countries such as Mexico and the Philippines, the desire to immigrate likely is influenced by the networks of friends and family that already exist in the United States, according to Jon Clifton, a partner at Gallup. More than 1.8 million people originally from the Philippines live in the U.S. In Mexico, the desire for greater economic opportunity led to a four decade-long mass migration to the U.S. However, this trend actually has reversed in recent years as border security has become more stringent and jobs have become more scarce as a result of the U.S. recession.
In the cases of India and China, the people that are eager to come to America tend to be more educated than the population at large, Clifton pointed out. “Brain drain is probably more serious [in China and India] than it is in a country like the U.S., U.K. or Germany,” Clifton said. In the United States, United Kingdom or Germany, a higher percentage of people want to leave the country, but those who want to leave for the U.S. tend to be less educated due to the lower economic opportunities for low-skilled workers.
Based on data from Gallup, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the seven countries where the largest number of adults would like to immigrate to the United States. We also looked at the percentage of adults in a particular country looking to immigrate to the U.S., as provided by Gallup. In addition, we looked at total population numbers from the CIA World Factbook. The number of people living in the U.S. from each country was taken from the U.S. Census Bureau. We also looked at well-being data for each of these countries and the percentage of people who approved and disapproved of American leadership, both provided by Gallup. In addition, we looked at data from the United Nations regarding poverty and literacy rates in the countries, and data on GDP was obtained from the International Monetary Fund.
These are the countries sending the most people to America.