About 13% of the world’s adults — or about 630 million people — say they would like to leave their country and move somewhere else permanently. For roughly 138 million people, that somewhere else would be the U.S. — the No. 1 desired destination for potential migrants. The U.K., Canada, and France also rank among the top choices for potential migrants.
These findings are based on a rolling average of Gallup interviews with 501,366 adults in 154 countries between 2010 and 2012. The 154 countries represent more than 98% of the world’s adult population; 3% of that population would like to relocate to the U.S. permanently.
Approximately 19 Million in China Want to Move to the U.S. Permanently
Potential migrants who would like to move to the U.S. are logically the most likely to come from some of the most populous countries in the world. Roughly 10 million or more adults would like to move to the U.S. permanently from China, Nigeria, and India.
However, other populous countries such as Iran and Pakistan do not have large groups of people who say that they would like to move to the U.S. permanently. Instead, Pakistanis most desire to relocate to Saudi Arabia and the U.K. and Iranians would prefer to move to Jordan or Lebanon. This is not surprising, as Iranians and Pakistanis have some of the lowest U.S. leadership approval ratings in the world.
The percentage of people in each country who would like to move to the U.S. permanently is perhaps more interesting. A staggering 37% of Liberians say that they would like to relocate to the U.S. permanently. One in four adults or more in Sierra Leone, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti would also like to move to the U.S. permanently. Three countries with the highest percentages of people who would like to relocate to the U.S. permanently are in Africa, seven are in Central America and the Caribbean, with the remaining country, Cambodia, in Asia.
Back in 2005, during Bush’s Housing Bubble when their were lots of jobs in the Sand States, Pew found that 22 million Mexicans would like to illegally immigrate to the U.S. and about twice that many would come legally. But, convergence between Mexico and America has, at least temporarily, reduced the desirability of life in America to Mexicans. The way Mexicans look at the situation today, America is just too damn full of Mexicans to bother with.
So, even though it looks like about, say, a quarter of a billion foreigners and their kids would like to move here, that wouldn’t actually happen even if America’s immigration policy was as ethically sophisticated as our moral exemplars, taxpayer-supported libertarian economic theorists, suggest. Pretty quickly, the advantages of the U.S. as a place to live over even Liberia would start to wash away and the foreigners would go pester, maybe, New Zealand instead.