Special Report

The 18 Countries Most People Would Move to If They Had a Chance

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An estimated900 million people in the world wanted to permanently relocate to another country in 2021, according to a recently released report from the international analytics and polling company Gallup. The survey, which interviewed 127,000 adults from 122 countries, found that 16% of them would like to emigrate, the highest figure seen in a decade. Regions with the highest percentage of residents wishing to relocate included Latin America and the Caribbean (37%), Sub-Saharan Africa (37%), and the Middle East and North Africa (27%). 

Pandemic-related issues including inflation are likely part of the cause, but climate-related factors including food scarcity as well as war and political upheaval, lack of job opportunities, and other economic stressors can also influence people’s desires to emigrate. In some nations that are scarred by civil war and sectarian violence, including Sierra Leone, Lebanon, and Afghanistan, over half of the population expressed a desire to leave. (These arethe countries where at least half the population wants to move away.)

To identify the countries the most people would move to if they could, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data collected in 2021 by the international analytics and polling company Gallup, published in January 2023, in the report, “Nearly 900 Million Worldwide Wanted to Migrate in 2021.” Gallup’s migration indexesare based on responses to the following questions: Ideally, if you had the opportunity, would you like to move permanently to another country, or would you prefer to continue living in this country? If the latter, to which one country would you most like to move? 

We ranked countries by their potential net population growth if all those who chose them as a place to move actually did so. Population statistics for 2011 and 2021 are from the World Bank.

Click here to see the countries the most people would move to if they could

The United States and Canada, not surprisingly, are among the countries people are most attracted to. Many of the other target countries are in Europe, while two are in the Middle East, two are in Asia, and two are in Australia/Oceania. Many are among the richest countries in the world, which tend to offer a relatively higher quality of life.(The list is slightly different when considering only where young people want to relocate to the most, according to data.)

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18. United States
> Net pop. growth, if those who would like to move to the US did: 46%
> Population, 2021: 331,893,745 – +6.5% from 2011
> Population, 2011: 311,583,481

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17. Ireland
> Net pop. growth, if those who would like to move to Ireland did: 48%
> Population, 2021: 5,033,165 – +9.9% from 2011
> Population, 2011: 4,580,084

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16. Malta
> Net pop. growth, if those who would like to move to Malta did: 58%
> Population, 2021: 518,536 – +24.6% from 2011
> Population, 2011: 416,268

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15. Northern Cyprus
> Net pop. growth, if those who would like to move to Northern Cyprus did: 79%
> Population, 2021: 1,244,188 – +8.7% from 2011
> Population, 2011: 1,145,086

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14. Saudi Arabia
> Net pop. growth, if those who would like to move to Saudi Arabia did: 90%
> Population, 2021: 35,950,396 – +19.2% from 2011
> Population, 2011: 30,150,945

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13. Greenland
> Net pop. growth, if those who would like to move to Greenland did: 91%
> Population, 2021: 56,653 – -0.4% from 2011
> Population, 2011: 56,890

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12. Sweden
> Net pop. growth, if those who would like to move to Sweden did: 98%
> Population, 2021: 10,415,811 – +10.2% from 2011
> Population, 2011: 9,449,213

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11. Norway
> Net pop. growth, if those who would like to move to Norway did: 109%
> Population, 2021: 5,408,320 – +9.2% from 2011
> Population, 2011: 4,953,088

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10. Luxembourg
> Net pop. growth, if those who would like to move to Luxembourg did: 131%
> Population, 2021: 640,064 – +23.5% from 2011
> Population, 2011: 518,347

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9. Canada
> Net pop. growth, if those who would like to move to Canada did: 147%
> Population, 2021: 38,246,108 – +11.4% from 2011
> Population, 2011: 34,339,328

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8. Bhutan
> Net pop. growth, if those who would like to move to Bhutan did: 162%
> Population, 2021: 777,486 – +9.0% from 2011
> Population, 2011: 713,331

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7. Kuwait
> Net pop. growth, if those who would like to move to Kuwait did: 169%
> Population, 2021: 4,250,114 – +35.2% from 2011
> Population, 2011: 3,143,825

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6. Australia
> Net pop. growth, if those who would like to move to Australia did: 179%
> Population, 2021: 25,688,079 – +15.0% from 2011
> Population, 2011: 22,340,024

Source: Julien Viry / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

5. Switzerland
> Net pop. growth, if those who would like to move to Switzerland did: 187%
> Population, 2021: 8,703,405 – +10.0% from 2011
> Population, 2011: 7,912,398

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4. United Arab Emirates
> Net pop. growth, if those who would like to move to UAE did: 204%
> Population, 2021: 9,365,145 – +9.2% from 2011
> Population, 2011: 8,575,205

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3. Iceland
> Net pop. growth, if those who would like to move to Iceland did: 208%
> Population, 2021: 372,520 – +16.8% from 2011
> Population, 2011: 319,014

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2. Singapore
> Net pop. growth, if those who would like to move to Singapore did: 225%
> Population, 2021: 5,453,566 – +5.2% from 2011
> Population, 2011: 5,183,688

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1. New Zealand
> Net pop. growth, if those who would like to move to New Zealand did: 231%
> Population, 2021: 5,122,600 – +16.8% from 2011
> Population, 2011: 4,384,000

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