Never mind the prolonged economic slump and the unemployment that it has brought with it. Forget the gruelling immigration process or the occasional instances of racism and discrimination. For much of the world, including India, none of that matters: The United States remains the promised land.
Some 13 per cent of the world’s adult population, about 630 million in all, a recent Gallup survey reveals, would like to emigrate from their home country, and of this, 138 million want to move to the US.
That’s more than three times the number of people who want to move to the United Kingdom, the second most popular destination, the survey suggested, based on interviews with 501,366 adults in 154 countries between 2010 and 2012.
Despite being engines of economic growth themselves, three BRIC nations - China, India and Brazil - are among the top five countries from where most migrants to the US are likely to come, with Nigeria and Bangladesh being the other two.
“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 US permanently. Instead, Pakistanis most desire to relocate to Saudi Arabia and the UK, and Iranians would prefer to move to Jordan or Lebanon,” the survey added.
Although 13 per cent of the global population aspires to migrate, in reality only about three per cent, or approximately 215 million people, actually live outside their home countries, the World Bank reports. The remittances sent back by these migrant populations to developing countries are three times the size of official development assistance.
But what is more interesting is how countries that record larger remittance inflows are also those from where large sections of the population want to migrate. India and China, for instance, are estimated to receive the most remittances globally, at $69,797 million and $66,275 million, respectively, in 2012, even as 19 million Chinese and 10 million Indians would like to move house to the United States. Nigeria and Bangladesh, too, are large recipients of remittances, the World Banks reports.
“Despite the current global economic weakness,” the World Bank predicts, “remittance flows are expected to continue growing, with global remittances expected to reach $615 billion by 2014, of which $467 billion will flow to developing countries.”