Special Report

You Don't Want to Work Abroad in These Wealthy Countries

Detailed Findings

“More generally,” Dumont continued, “the living conditions for the workers themselves and their family are key. In the OECD Talent Attractiveness Index, the possibility for the spouse to work, for the children to access and succeed in school, and, more generally, the quality of life are significant factors.”

Ease of immigration is also a major factor in attracting foreign workers. “Some of these countries also have complex, lengthy, and uncertain immigration procedures, which does not help,” Dumont said. According to the OECD, the average processing time for work visas — the number of days from when a prospective migrant initiates an immigration case to the date on which the individual is allowed to start working — ranges from 39 to 185 days in OECD countries.

Restrictive quotas on foreign labor can also make a country less attractive to potential migrants and effectively reduce immigration. In Turkey, for example, most businesses are required to employ five Turkish citizens for each foreign employee. In Mexico, businesses must employee nine Mexican nationals for every one foreigner.

Wealth is one of the largest determinants of overall quality of life. While the GNI per capita for OECD as a whole is higher than the global average, wealth fluctuates heavily within the OECD. The four countries with the lowest GNI per capita in the OECD — Mexico, Chile, Turkey, and Greece — each rank second, sixth, first, and third on this list, respectively.


To determine the countries where you don’t want to work abroad, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the attractiveness rank from the OECD Indicators of Talent Attractiveness report, as well as additional data from the OECD and the International Labour Organization. OECD countries were ranked based on the average of their perceived ability to attract individuals with masters or doctoral degrees and their perceived ability to attract foreign entrepreneurs, as determined by the OECD. Data on the foreign-born participation rate, native-born unemployment, and foreign-born unemployment are from the OECD and are for 2018 or the latest year available. Data on population and GNI per capita in international dollars are for 2018 and is from the World Bank. Data on foreign-born residents as a share of the working-age population 15 and older, educational attainment for the native-born and foreign-born populations aged 15 and up, and the share of the native-born and foreign-born workforce employed in occupations classified as low-, medium-, or high-skilled came from the International Labour Organization for 2018, or the earliest year available.

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