Japan, S’pore top destinations for migrants

Karin Zeitvogel

If young people could move anywhere, they’d choose Japan, Singapore and other developed countries, a study showed.

That would be good news for the two Asian countries, which have the fastest-aging populations and lowest fertility rates in the world, the Gallup polling agency, which conducted the study, said.

But most developed Asian countries would lose a significant portion of their most educated people in a brain-drain, said the study, which calculated countries’ net migration indexes.

Gallup calculated indexes for the overall population, youth population and brain gain or drain by subtracting the number of people who said they would like to move out of a country from those who said they wanted to move in.

The indexes were based on polls conducted by Gallup of 350,000 adults in 148 countries.

Japan’s population of educated people would decline by 13 percent if everyone who wanted to leave did; South Korea’s and Hong Kong’s brain drains would cut their population of educated people by nearly 30 percent, and Taiwan would lose a third of its brainy folk, the study found.

Just like last year, Singapore would buck the trend and see its overall population triple if everyone who wanted to move there were allowed to.

It would also see its population of educated people quadruple and the number of young people increase six-fold, the Gallup poll found.

But in the overall migration scheme of things, developed countries in Asia came out at the bottom of the scale in the index, with a net population gain of just one percent and a brain-drain of 16 percent.

Australia, New Zealand and Oceania came out tops. Their populations would more than double, their youth populations would nearly quadruple and the number of brainy people would increase by 186 percent.

The United States and Canada, both countries that many immigrants would like to settle in, would also see net population, brain and youth gains if everyone who wanted to move to the two North American countries could.

But an estimated 4 million Latino adults in the United States, or one in seven of the US Hispanic population, would leave the country permanently if they had the opportunity, Gallup said.

A slim majority said they would move to a Latin American country, and nearly a third said they would relocate to Mexico.

Meanwhile, as many as 35 million young people in Latin America said they wanted to emigrate. The preferred destination for young Latinos aged 15-29 is the United States.

Three European countries that are not members of the European Union — Iceland, Norway and Switzerland — would see their overall populations and the number of highly educated people more than double if would-be migrants could move anywhere they wanted.

The three countries could use an influx of young people, according to the study, which could not come up with a youth-migration score for them because the sample size of youngsters had dropped below 500.