The Aspiration to Stay: A Global Analysis

  • 2023•12•13

    Alix Debray, Ilse Ruyssen, and Kerilyn Schewel

    There is growing interest from both policy and academic communities in understanding why people do not migrate. This article offers the first global analysis of the aspiration to stay, defined here as the preference to stay in one’s country of residence. We make use of the unique Gallup World Polls which provide information on aspirations to stay (as opposed to migrating abroad) as well as on individual characteristics and opinions for 130 countries worldwide between 2010 and 2016. We find staying aspirations are far more common than migration aspirations across the globe and uncover important “retain factors” often overlooked in research on migration drivers — related to social ties, local amenities, trust in community institutions, and life satisfaction. Overall, those who aspire to stay tend to be more content, socially supported and live in communities with stronger institutions and better local amenities. We further explore differences in the relative importance of retain factors for countries at different levels of urbanization, and for different population groups, based on gender, education, rural/urban location, migration history, religiosity, and perceived thriving. Our findings contribute to a more holistic understanding of migration decision-making, illuminating the personal, social, economic, and institutional retain factors countering those that push and pull.

    Read More.