As the world’s labor force becomes increasingly mobile in a global economy, more workers are willing to consider going abroad for a job. But people’s motivation to move—and their favored destinations—vary widely and are not easy to predict based solely on economics, according to a new survey of more than 200,000 job seekers from the Boston Consulting Group and recruiting website The Network.
Of course, many people in unstable or economically floundering countries look outside their homelands for more opportunity; and those in countries with a high standard of living often want to stay put. But there are plenty of exceptions, the survey found.
Spanish workers, for example, are more likely than not to stay in place, despite a weak economy. (Spain is, after all, a pretty nice place to live, even with its economic woes.) And what explains the relatively high level of wanderlust in Switzerland? The Swiss apparently don’t want to move for a better job or standard of living (which would be tough to find): When asked why they want to move, those factors are at the bottom of their priorities. Broadening experience and living in a different culture are at the top.
The variation can be pretty extreme, even among similarly robust economies. More than 90% of the French and Dutch job seekers surveyed said they’d be willing to move abroad. But less than half of German and Danish job seekers, and only 35% of Americans, would consider a move. The world average is 64%.
Here are the countries covered by the survey, broken down by the percentage who already work abroad or would be willing to:
In many countries, younger people are substantially more likely to want to work abroad. People aged 21 to 30 in the United States for example, are more than 20% more inclined to move abroad than the average person in the country. In Germany, however, the young are just 8% more open to a move, indicating a more conservative young populace and the strong pull of a stable economy at home.
Economic trends play a role, a country’s wealth isn’t the only thing that draws workers. Here are the most popular destination countries, according to the survey, which include economically troubled places like Spain and Italy:
When it comes to cities, workers aim for bright lights and big work opportunities: Capitals and cultural centers tend to draw the most people.