A revealing map of who wants to move to the U.S.

Article author: 
Max Fisher
Article date: 
22 March 2013
Article category: 
Our American Future
Article Body: 

Share of population that would like to move to the United States


Gallup released some new data this week on migration, for which they asked people from 154 countries if they would like to migrate, and if so where to. The United States was by far the most popular destination; Gallup estimates that 138 million people would like to relocate there. The United Kingdom was the second-most popular, with 42 million potential migrants, followed by Canada, France and Saudi Arabia.

Those numbers are so high that I wondered how many people in particular countries want to move to the United States. Gallup actually posted some of those numbers on its Web site and when I asked for more, kindly sent them over. I’ve mapped out the data above.

It turns out that there are 44 countries where, according to Gallup’s data, more than 5 percent of the adult population say say they would like to move to the United States. Five percent! That’s a remarkably large share. In 15 of those countries, the proportion of the population that wants to move to the United States is above 10 percent. And there are three countries where more than a quarter of the adult population would like to move here: Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Dominican Republic.

The data do not, as you might expect, always correlate with wealth... Rather, it appears that people in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa tend have an especially strong desire to the move to the United States, which also tends to have a high favorability rating in those regions...

There are two absences on this map that I found surprising: India and China. There are very large Indian-American and Chinese-American populations here, of course, and a steady stream of arrivals from both countries. It’s possible that the size of the countries made polling more difficult...  Still, even if only 1 percent of India and China wish to become American, that’s still 25 million people.

Finally, consider what would happen if all 138 million of the adults who want to move to the United States were suddenly able to follow through on that. (The cost of uprooting one’s family and making the trip, of course, might be even more limiting than American immigration laws.) The U.S. population would grow to 453 million, and it would be a potentially much more African and Latin community...



As Roy Beck of NumbersUSA has observed, at least four billion people on the planet live below the standard of living in Mexico. We can't import all of those people into the United States, even if they want to come here. They will have to bloom where they are planted.

The United States is the third most populous country, next to India and China. Because of our high levels of consumption, we have a greater impact on our natural sustaining environment than do similar numbers in less developed countries.

We can not grow US population indefinitely within the boundaries of a finite country.