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One-Quarter Of World's Population Wants To Live Elsewhere

Why is Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin smiling? Thirty-four percent of Moldovan citizens would like to live elsewhere.

Would you like to live permanently in another country other than your own?

If you're an average citizen of the world, the chances are better than one-in-four that the answer is yes.

The Gallup polling company posed that question to about 1,000 people in each of 82 countries over the period of 2006 to 2008.

The findings are surprising.

Take, for example, two Western European countries that are among the favorite destinations for migrants -- Britain and Germany. Don’t the people who already live there feel lucky to be where they are?

Not entirely. In both the United Kingdom and Germany, 27 percent of the respondents said they would like to permanently move somewhere else.

That's on the high side of responses for this survey, in which half of the worldwide responses fell above 26 percent and half below.

Ready To Leave

Or take France and Russia.

While France is world-famous for its standard of living and creature comforts, 17 percent of its inhabitants say they are ready to migrate. But Russia -- equally famous for its widening gap between the wealthy and poor and for its harsh winters -- has exactly the same proportion of people who say they are ready to move --17 percent.

Other former Soviet republics show a wide variety of answers, both higher and lower than Russia.

Highest is Moldova, where 34 percent are ready to migrate. That is followed by Azerbaijan at 28 percent, Georgia at 26 percent, Ukraine at 25 percent, and Armenia at 23 percent.

Twenty percent of Belarusians and Kyrgyz want to migrate. And between 19 and 20 percent of the inhabitants of the Baltic states -- now EU members -- want the same.

But in Kazakhstan, just 13 percent would leave home. And in Tajikistan, it is just 12 percent -- even though many Tajiks regularly have to seek seasonal work in neighboring countries.

Elsewhere, the poll found 30 percent of the respondents in Iran ready to migrate -- ranking the country just below Lebanon and just above Chad.

The pollsters do not cite the reasons for which people want to leave any given country, saying only that the reasons are likely to be country- and culture-specific. But they do note that the survey results underline a common thread among people worldwide: a connection to others who live abroad.

Allure Of The Abroad

Across all nations, the poll found, people who have relatives working or living in another country are more likely to consider moving themselves. And if those relatives demonstrate greater earning power -- for example, by sending home remittances -- the allure of the abroad increases.

Which two countries are the top and bottom of the poll for people dreaming of living abroad?

Sierra Leone has the highest number of would-be migrants: 65 percent of those polled are ready to leave home.

And Saudi Arabia has the lowest number. Just 1 percent of respondents there say they are ready to permanently live elsewhere.