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Record Numbers of Americans Want to Leave the U.S.

Added: Thursday, January 10th 2019 at 12:06pm by ceilede

  • 40% of women younger than 30 would like to leave the U.S.
  • 22% who disapprove of Trump would like to move vs. 7% who approve
  • Canada is top desired destination for would-be migrant Americans

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- While Donald Trump has spent much of his presidency focused on the number of people who want to get into the U.S., since he took office, record numbers of Americans have wanted to get out.

Though relatively average by global standards, the 16% of Americans overall who said in 2017 and again in 2018 that they would like to permanently move to another country -- if they could -- is higher than the average levels during either the George W. Bush (11%) or Barack Obama administration (10%).

Desire to Migrate in the U.S.
Ideally, if you had the opportunity, would you like to move PERMANENTLY to another country, or would you prefer to continue living in this country?
George W. Bush (2008)11
Barack Obama (2009-2016)10
Donald Trump (2017-2018)16

While Gallup's World Poll does not ask people about their political leanings, most of the recent surge in Americans' desire to migrate has come among groups that typically lean Democratic and that have disapproved of Trump's job performance so far in his presidency: women, young Americans and people in lower-income groups.

During the first two years of the Trump administration, a record-high one in five U.S. women (20%) said they would like to move to another country permanently if they could. This is twice the average for women during the Obama (10%) or Bush years (11%) and almost twice the level among men (13%) under Trump. Before the Trump years, there was no difference between men's and women's desires to move.


Desire to Migrate at Record Levels for Women, Young People and Low-Income Americans
Poorest 20%*1330
Richest 20%*812
*Income data unavailable



The 30% of Americans younger than 30 who would like to move also represents a new high -- and it is also the group in which the gender gap is the largest. Forty percent of women younger than 30 said they would like to move, compared with 20% of men in this age group. These gender gaps narrow with age and eventually disappear after age 50.

Desire to migrate among the poorest 20% of Americans during Trump's first two years is also at record levels. It is more than twice as high as the average during Obama's two terms. So far under Trump, three in 10 Americans (30%) in the poorest 20% say they would like to migrate if they could, compared with an average of 13% under Obama.

But more than anything else, Trump himself may be the primary motivator. Regression analysis shows that regardless of differences by gender, age or income -- if Americans disapprove of the job Trump is doing as president, they are more likely to want to leave the U.S. Overall, 22% of Americans who disapproved of Trump's job performance during his first two years said they would like to move, compared with 7% who approved.

Destination Canada?

Before and after Trump's election, many Americans -- particularly Democrats -- threatened to move to Canada (as Republicans did after Obama was elected). Canada always has been one of the top desired destinations for Americans, but that desire has only increased since Trump's election. In 2018, more than one in four Americans (26%) who would like to move named Canada as the place they would like to go, up from 12% in 2016.

It's important to note that people's desire to migrate is typically much higher than their intention to do so -- as such, it is unlikely that Americans will be flocking to the Canadian border. In fact, since Trump's election, Canadian statistics show only a modest uptick in the number of Americans who have moved to Canada.

Bottom Line

After years of remaining flat, the number of Americans -- particularly young women -- who desire to leave the U.S. permanently is on the rise. This increase is concerning, but none of this suggests that the U.S. is going to suddenly see a mass migration in which it could lose as many as 40% of its young women.

However, the "Trump effect" on Americans' desire to migrate is a new manifestation of the increasing political polarization in the U.S. Before Trump took office, Americans' approval or disapproval of the president was not a push factor in their desire to migrate.

Dato Tsabutashvili contributed to this analysis.

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

Learn more about how the Gallup World Poll works.

User Comments

I don't want to move, but I am trying to get my ducks in a row to find a place that I could afford to move to.    And it is no surprise to me that more want to do so under trump.  I wasn't crazy about W Bush either (especially after the invasion of Iraq) but I didn't feel as threatened as I do now.

Any member of any minority should feel threatened now under this man.

Any American...in fact, any right-thinking citizen of the world ...should feel threatened by this man.

I'm to old to move, but don't think I would anyway.  I just can't believe the change in our politicians over the last few years, and now...they are acting like a bunch of kids up there.  I think now Trump regarding this wall is trying to earn himself some credit for something he feels is big.  I'm not against the wall, but I am against all those people who won't be getting paid until this this decision is reached.  It's just not fare to them.

We should be clear about something. The wall will never be built. To build the monstrosity that Orange Julius has in mind would take at least 10 years to build, would require about 100,000 workers (most of whom who would be undocumented) and would cost at least $40 BILLION dollars of taxpayers money (MIT Technology Review). By the way, in the budget for FY 2019, Trump asked for, and received, $1.7 billion dollars - and spent about 40% making the samples...like the steel slats which were sawed through with a steel saw one could buy at the local hardware store.

The shutdown is a terrible sham/scam/crime against the American people. The good news is the Cheetoh Bandido will lose this frightful gambit.

But when will he loose this is the question right now.  Way to many people are suffering. as of right now, today, which is their pay day and thee mount of money on their checks is $00.00  And what is this that was said; do garage sales, take care of kid, etc., is he nuts..!  

Yes, he has a variety of pathologies about which I have posted on many occasions. And, if the photos of his recent fiasco in the Oval Office (with extremely dilated pupils) are any indication, a drug habit as well (Adderal?)

It is coming to a head. Be patient a while longer. Next month will prove interesting. 

And yes...garage sales? Bartering with the landlord? Providing childcare? Really? Non compos mentis!

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