The United States is the most popular dream destination, poll reveals

by Ray Clancy on April 27, 2012

Potential migrants aspire to move to US in search of opportunity, says research

About 13% of the world’s adults, or more than 640 million people, say they would like to leave their country permanently and roughly 150 million of them say they would like to move to the United States, according to research from Gallup.

The United Kingdom is the next most popular destination with 45 million expressing a desire to move there, followed by Canada at 42 million.

After that France is the most popular with 32 million, Saudi Arabia with 31 million and Australia with 26 million. Sweden and Russia are the least popular countries, both with six million.

Gallup’s latest findings on adults’ desire to move to other countries are based on a rolling average of interviews with 452,199 adults in 151 countries between 2009 and 2011. The 151 countries represent more than 97% of the world’s adult population.

Potential migrants who say they would like to move to the US are most likely to come from populous countries such as China (22 million), Nigeria (15 million), India (10 million), Bangladesh (8 million), or Brazil (7 million).

However, not all of the most populous countries in the world have large groups of people who want to move to the US. Highly populated countries including Pakistan, Turkey, and Thailand are home to far fewer people who want to move to there.

Despite large numbers of people in China, Nigeria, and India who want to migrate permanently to the US, these countries are not necessarily the places where the US is the most desired destination. Gallup found that more than three in 10 adults in Liberia (37%) and Sierra Leone (30%) would move permanently to the US if they had the opportunity. More than 20% of adults in the Dominican Republic (26%), Haiti (24%), and Cambodia (22%) also say the same.

Gallup finds that potential migrants aspire to move to countries all over the world, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Saudi Arabia, and the US for the simple reason that they are in search of opportunity. Opportunity could mean the chance to join family members who are already in other countries, to start a new business, to express one’s views without fear, or to live where children are treated with respect.

While opportunity is the most common theme for all potential migrants worldwide, they might be drawn to the US for another reason. Gallup finds that 81% of all Americans say their communities are good places for immigrants. When compared with other countries in the world where Gallup has surveyed, the US ranks very favourably on this metric of openness.

The reason the US is such a highly desired destination for potential migrants, in addition to being the land of opportunity, could be that many Americans are accepting of migrants in their communities.

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