Desire to Leave FSU Ranges Widely Across Countries

Desire to Leave FSU Ranges Widely Across Countries

by Neli Esipova and Anita Pugliese

Half of those who want to migrate are searching for a better living standard

PRINCETON, NJ -- Fifteen percent of adults across 12 former Soviet Union (FSU) countries desire to migrate to another country permanently, according to Gallup data collected between 2010 and 2012. Desire varies within the region, from 40% in Armenia to 5% in Uzbekistan. Adults in Central Asian countries are generally less likely to want to migrate than those living in other areas within the larger region.

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When Gallup asked potential migrants in 2011 and 2012 to identify the main reason they would like to move, the majority cited economic-related factors. Fifty-two percent of potential migrants in FSU countries say they want to improve their standard of living or live in a country with a better standard of living. Another 10% say they want to get a good job or cannot find a job in their own country. More than one in eight (13%) are thinking not of their own futures, but those of their children.

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But 12% said they did not have an opinion on the reason they desire to move. Four percent or fewer potential migrants mentioned other reasons such as social benefits (namely retirement and medical benefits).

In contrast to the commonly held belief that reuniting families is one of the most important reasons for migration in the region, Gallup data show that it is not near the top of the list for residents in these 12 countries. Those in Central Asian countries are the most likely to cite wanting "to be close to family" as the main reason they would like to migrate, with the highest percentage in Kazakhstan, at 11%.

Potential migrants aged 50 and older are more likely than younger respondents across all 12 countries to want to move to be closer to family. In Central Asian countries, nearly one in four adults in this older age group say family is the main reason they desire to migrate.

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Those aged 50 and older (9%) are more likely than younger adults (3%) to say social benefits are the main reason they want to move to another country. Young adults, on the other hand, are most likely to say improving their standard of living is the main reason they want to migrate, at 56%.

Children's Future Top Motivator in Some Countries

Adults in Turkmenistan (29%) and Kazakhstan (21%) are the most likely to cite their children's future as the main reason they want to migrate to another country. Far fewer in other countries offered this as a reason.

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Women across all countries were more likely than men -- 17% vs. 10%, respectively -- to say they want to move for their children's future. And those who have children younger than age 15 in their household are more likely to cite this reason for wanting to migrate.


Leaders need to be cognizant of the factors that play an important role in people's decisions to leave their countries. In FSU countries, the main reasons behind people's desire to migrate are largely economic, but they are also motivated to move to provide better futures for their children. If countries fail to provide good jobs, many residents in the region may act on their desire to leave their country to find better employment and a better standard of living for themselves and their families.

For complete data sets or custom research from the more than 150 countries Gallup continually surveys, please contact us.

Survey Methods

Results are based on aggregated face-to-face interviews with 41,072 adults, aged 15 and older, in 12 countries from 2010 to 2012: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

In 2011 and 2012, 4,519 survey respondents said they would like to move to another country permanently. These respondents were asked to indicate all reasons why they would like to move abroad, and then to choose the main reason among those mentioned. One can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error for the total sample of 4,519 respondents is less than ±2 percentage points. Margin of error for subgroups is larger.

For more complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.

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