How Would the World Change if Everyone Could Live Where They Wanted?

The World
How It Works
Jan. 23 2014 6:22 PM

How Would the World Change if Everyone Could Live Where They Wanted?

183450149-argentinian-environmentalists-from-the-city-of
Gonna be a while.

Photo by Miguel Rojo/AFP/Getty Images

Gallup’s Potential Net Migration Index is an estimation of how countries’ populations would change if everyone in the world could live where they wanted. After roughly 520,000 interviews in 154 countries, they subtract the number of people who would want to leave each country from the number of people who want to move there.

Joshua Keating Joshua Keating

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

Here are the results of this year’s index by region:

migration
Advertisement

Europe’s high score comes despite declines in Southern Europe. Greece, for instance, has slipped into negative territory, from +11 percent to -8 percent, since the last time the survey was taken, in 2009. Canada and the United States are still the world’s two most desirable destinations for immigrants. Canada’s population would increase by 120 percent in a borderless world, America’s by 45 percent. Worryingly, that number’s down significantly from 60 percent in 2009. It’s still an extra 141 million people, though, or roughly the equivalent of bringing everyone in Russia into America. The old Russia, that is. Russia would decline by 9 percent in this scenario.)

The biggest increase in population would be in Switzerland, which would grow by 136 percent if everyone who wanted to move there could.* (They definitely can’t.) At the other extreme, Haiti’s population would decrease by 52 percent, followed closely by Sierra Leone and Liberia. Despite its economic success, China's number has remained unchanged at -6 percent.

Overall, an estimated 13 percent of the world’s adults—about 630 million people—wish they lived somewhere else

*Correction, Jan. 24, 2014: This post originally misstated that Switzerland would grow by 120 percent.

TODAY IN SLATE

Justice Ginsburg’s Crucial Dissent in the Texas Voter ID Case

The Jarring Experience of Watching White Americans Speak Frankly About Race

How Facebook’s New Feature Could Come in Handy During a Disaster

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

View From Chicago

You Should Be Able to Sell Your Kidney

Or at least trade it for something.

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Terrorism, Immigration, and Ebola Are Combining Into a Supercluster of Anxiety

The Legal Loophole That Allows Microsoft to Seize Assets and Shut Down Companies

  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Oct. 19 2014 1:05 PM Dawn Patrol Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s critically important 5 a.m. wake-up call on voting rights.
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 19 2014 11:40 AM Pot-Infused Halloween Candy Is a Worry in Colorado
  Life
Outward
Oct. 17 2014 5:26 PM Judge Begrudgingly Strikes Down Wyoming’s Gay Marriage Ban
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 17 2014 4:23 PM A Former FBI Agent On Why It’s So Hard to Prosecute Gamergate Trolls
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 8:32 AM Marvel’s Civil War Is a Far-Right Paranoid Fantasy—and a Mess. Can the Movies Fix It?
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 17 2014 6:05 PM There Is No Better Use For Drones Than Star Wars Reenactments
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 20 2014 7:00 AM Gallery: The Red Planet and the Comet
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 16 2014 2:03 PM Oh What a Relief It Is How the rise of the bullpen has changed baseball.