Reminder from Gallup: 42 million people want to migrate to America

Today, Gallup CEO Jim Clifton published a short blog post highlighting some survey results about potential migration.

There are 33 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Roughly 450 million adults live in the region. Gallup asked them if they would like to move to another country permanently if they could.

A whopping 27% said “yes.”…

Of those who want to leave their country permanently, 35% — or 42 million — said they want to go to the United States.

Some might conclude Clifton is trying to weigh in to the current border crisis debate in a way that puts pressure on the Biden administration. But it’s worth noting that the data he’s citing isn’t new. In fact, he wrote a very similar blog post back in Feb. 2019, the last time we were discussing a very similar crisis at the border. The data is based on a huge international survey that was conducted between 2015 and 2017:

Results are based on telephone and face-to-face interviews with 453,122 adults, aged 15 and older, in 152 countries from 2015 to 2017. The 152 countries surveyed represent about 99% of the world’s adult population. For most countries, aggregated sample sizes (across multiple years of surveys) range between 1,000 and 4,000 interviews. As with any survey-based estimate, the indexes reported in this article have corresponding margins of error, calculated using the Standard Error of the index. Sample size, size of the country and range in population projection weights affect margin of error of the indexes.

All scores are relative to a country’s population size, and this should be kept in mind when interpreting results. For example, the PNMI for the U.S. is estimated at +46%, meaning if all adults who desire to move in and out of the country did so, the adult population would increase by 46%. With the margin of error at the 95% confidence level, this estimate ranges from 50% to 42%.

The site also includes a map showing which countries people want to move to (darker green) and which ones they want to leave (lighter green). Not surprisingly, most of the countries in Central America and large portions of South America are places people are eager to leave. If you want to know why we have annual waves of migrants at our southern border, this is the answer:

Of course none of this means we’re going to see 42 million people at the border anytime soon, but as I mentioned earlier, even Joe Biden expressed worry last December that by changing policy too quickly we could see 2 million at the border this year. And the current estimate is that we could see exactly that. That’s a huge influx of poor, low-skilled workers for our already struggling economy to absorb.

I really do get the humanitarian impulse in these cases but as Clifton, the Gallup CEO said today, “In addition to finding a solution for the thousands of migrants currently at the border, let’s include the bigger, harder question — what about all of those who would like to come?” There are literally millions of people waiting to see how the U.S. handles this crisis.