Special Report

Countries Where at Least Half the Population Wants to Move Away

With one out of eight people in the world living on less than $1 a day, a commonly cited threshold that constitutes extreme poverty, hundreds of millions of adults desire to move to other countries than their own to find better opportunities. Tens of millions are planning an exodus within 12 months, according to polling company Gallup, including people taking perilous journeys through unauthorized routes, often facilitated by criminal human-trafficking gangs.

Poverty and high unemployment, especially youth unemployment, are major factors for these migrations. Other factors like state oppression, administrative and government corruption, internal conflicts, and all-out war add to the pressure to leave. Migrants often relocate to nearby countries, but many dream of moving on to the wealthiest and most stable nations, notably countries in the European Union, Canada, and the United States – all viewed as safe refuges with ample job opportunities. (Learn where the most refugees arriving in the U.S. come from.)

To identify the countries where a large segment of the population – at least 45% –  would like to move away, 24/7 Tempo reviewed a report called “Nearly 900 Million Worldwide Wanted to Migrate in 2021,” based on data collected in 2021 and published in January 2023 by the analytics company Gallup. For context, we obtained 2011 and 2021 population statistics from the World Bank.

Out of the 13 countries polled by Gallup with highest share of would-be emigrants, two have experienced slight decreases in population from 2020 to 2021: Albania, where 20% of men ages 15-29 are jobless, and Lebanon, which is suffering under an extreme economic crisis that sent inflation over 200% for the first half of last year. 

Click here to read about the countries where at least half the population wants to move away

Conflict-ravaged Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as Honduras, where criminal gangs run rampant, are also on this list. Another is Kosovo, where 45% of poll respondents said they would like to leave their semi-recognized country, which has one of Europe’s highest rates of youth unemployment.

The country in which the highest percentage of the population wants to leave is the West African nation of Sierra Leone, where three out of four respondents said they’d like to move elsewhere. (Some people want to leave the United States, too. These are the 15 countries Americans are moving to the most.)

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