Substantial shares of people in three African nations – Nigeria, Tunisia and Kenya – say they plan to move to another country within five years, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in 2018.
In the three African nations, two-thirds or more of all who were surveyed cite jobs, education and reuniting with family as reasons why people leave their countries. Conflict also plays a role: In Nigeria and Kenya, majorities say escaping violence is a very or somewhat important reason for why people leave the country. (See the survey’s topline for detailed results.)
In Nigeria, Africa’s most populated nation, nearly half (45%) of adults say they plan to move to another country within five years, by far the highest share among 12 countries surveyed across four continents. Meanwhile, a quarter (24%) of adults in Tunisia say they plan to leave within five years, as do 19% in Kenya. In 2017, substantial shares in Senegal, Ghana and South Africa said the same.
In nations surveyed outside of Africa, fewer people say they plan to migrate. Only in the Philippines do more than one-in-ten (15%) say they plan to move to another country. The Philippines has a long history of labor migration to countries around the world. Meanwhile, relatively low shares say this in India (2%) and Mexico (8%), countries with the world’s two largest emigrant populations.
Many who say they plan to move say they will go to the United States and Europe, popular destinations for Africans who have already migrated. In Tunisia, a North African country near Europe, more than two-thirds (68%) who plan to migrate say they will move to a European country. Meanwhile, Kenyans who plan to move most often say they will go to the U.S. (33%) or to another African country (25%). In Nigeria, 28% of potential migrants say they plan to move to the U.S., 19% mention a European country and 19% say a Middle Eastern country.
Even though many say they plan to migrate in the coming years, not everyone who says this has made preparations. In Tunisia, 70% of those who plan to migrate in the next five years have gathered information about moving to another country, about half (54%) have saved or borrowed money, and about half (52%) have applied for necessary documents such as a passport or visa. A quarter of Tunisians who plan to move have taken all three steps (28%), which amounts to about 7% of all adults surveyed in the country.
In Nigeria and Kenya, lower but substantial shares have taken each of these steps to prepare for their move. About 11% of Kenyans and 14% of Nigerians who plan to migrate in the next five years have taken all three steps to prepare for their move.
Those with a high school diploma or higher in Kenya, Nigeria and Tunisia are more likely to say they plan to move abroad. Among sub-Saharan Africans who have already migrated, about half or more of those living in the U.S. and United Kingdom have at least some college education. The survey also found that younger adults, men and those with higher incomes are more likely to say they will make a move in the next five years.
Note: See full topline results and methodology here.