One in three Brits wants to leave the UK

by Ray Clancy on December 16, 2010

Survey shows high intention of leaving Britain

Although the United Kingdom is one of the top destinations for would be migrants around the world, one in three Brits say they would like to leave their country permanently if they had the opportunity, a poll show.

The research from leading pollsters Gallup, reveals that Britons, in fact, are among the most likely in the European Union to say they would like to move, sharing the top spot with Romanians.

The relatively high level of desire to migrate permanently cannot be attributed to the recent global economic crisis or the country’s own recession, the report says as the 33% who say they would like to move is the same now as when it entered recession in 2008.

This trend is similar to what Gallup observes worldwide. With some exceptions, people’s expressed desire to migrate did not decrease meaningfully in the downturn.

The profile of the UK’s potential migrants has not changed much either during that time. Like others worldwide, it is younger, working age Brits and those with secondary or higher education that are the most likely to say they would like to migrate. One in three or more with secondary educations, 33%, or the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree or higher education, 36%, say they would like to move if they had the chance.

Brits are most likely to want to relocate to Australia, Spain, the United States, and Canada. Among those who say they would like to migrate, just 2% say they are actually planning to move in the next 12 months. This percentage is much lower than in many other places in the EU.

The relatively high level of desire to migrate suggests an underlying malaise among a sizable portion of the population. A closer look at those who would like to go reveals dissatisfaction with not only economic conditions, but also with conditions in local communities. Those who say they would like to migrate, for example, are more likely to be dissatisfied with their communities as places to live in general and with aspects of their local infrastructure such as the quality of the local schools and their roads and highways. They are also less likely to approve of their local leadership and trust their local police.

The daily well being of those who express a desire to leave their country also tends to be slightly worse than that of those who would like to stay. Would be migrants are more likely to report experiencing a lot of stress, worry, and anger the day before the survey, and are less likely to report experiencing a lot of enjoyment, feeling well rested, or having the opportunity to learn something interesting.

The report adds that the UK finds itself in a situation that many around the world do, with their young people and their educated the most likely to want to migrate. As Brits struggle to find solutions that keep the talent they need at home, Gallup data suggests some of the work will need to start in communities with leaders doing more to increase individual day to day well-being.

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