Would a Canadian really want to emigrate?
February 8, 2009 4:18 PM   Subscribe

About how many people emigrate from each developed nation annually, and what are the common reasons for doing so?

Are there any online resources or databases that track the number of people that emigrate from one developed nation to another? I'm also looking for the reasons why, both anecdotal and categorical. I assume that a lot of them are emigrating for marriage, political, or professional reasons, but I'd like to know more about their reasons in depth. I'm seeking to understand why they do it, but also the overall outcome of their experiences: were they generally positive, negative, or neutral? Was the emigration worth the effort in the end? Also are there any developed nations where immigration is easier (from US, in particular)?
posted by brandnew to Law & Government (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If you're looking for anecdotes, I emigrated from the US to Canada in '97. Contact me if you're interested.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 4:36 PM on February 8, 2009

According to this blog, nearly 3% of people worldwide are migrants (doesn't say where he got his figures from). Here is a cool interactive map of global migration from the NY Times.
posted by Susurration at 4:47 PM on February 8, 2009

Here's quite a nicely-reasoned historical analysis and explanation of migration from the IMF.
posted by Susurration at 4:49 PM on February 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Developed countries keep track of where their immigrants are from, so you could look there. That is, look at Immigration Canada to see how many immigrants to Canada were from other "developed" countries, and then look at USCIS to see how many immigrants to the US were from the developed world, and so on.

In other words, yes, this information is tracked, but probably in ways that will require some work on your part.

To answer the title question: 15-30000 Canadians* receive US green cards every year.

*Strictly, people whose last residence was in Canada.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:06 PM on February 8, 2009

My parents left England for Canada due in large part to the class system in England that looked down on my parents as being "common" and my mother being Irish and limited their job choices. They definitely have done better financially than any of their peers that remained in England. Their accent here is simply thought of as "English" rather than "lower class" as it is viewed in England.

I know African-Americans that have moved to Canada because they felt there was less racism for their children and and less discrimination in the job market for themselves. Ditto for a few bi-racial couples that just felt their race was not as much as issue here as it was elsewhere.

I know at least one person that came to Canada from a developed country because they experienced less homophobia both on the job and in society (bonus - they could get legally married). A lot of the queer community basis decisions on where they vacation/live on what countries restrict their rights the least.

A librarian I know left an amazing job with the British Library and moved to Canada partially based on what I told her I earned in a Canadian library with maybe a quarter of her education. She was married to a man that moved back to England from Canada because the education for being a CMA was cheaper and easier to obtain in England. I know a midwife that also came to Canada from the UK because of substantial wage differences. Female dominated positions (teachers, nurses, librarians) pay better in Canada than in other countries I have looked at. Friends from Russian and Eastern Europe also moved for the higher wages available to professionals.

I don't know anyone that regretted immigrating to Canada, but I imagine if they did not like it they would leave, lessening the chances of hearing from them.

When I was seriously considering leaving Canada it was because the local economy was terrible and I was hoping to be an economic migrant to an area with actual jobs.
posted by saucysault at 7:32 PM on February 8, 2009

I know a lot of folks who have emigrated from Canada to the U.S., to England and to mainland Europe. Reasons included better economic conditions, more congenial cultural conditions or a more favourable climate elsewhere. Meeting people on the internet and moving to join them has also been a factor.
posted by zadcat at 7:43 PM on February 8, 2009

I don't know anyone that regretted immigrating to Canada, but I imagine if they did not like it they would leave, lessening the chances of hearing from them.

When studying abroad in France I met an young Indian man who was about to move to Canada. This was November. A few months later, my host mom mentioned that Canada hadn't worked out for him, and he was back in France. When I asked why, she said it was mainly because he couldn't handle the climate.

I am in the process of moving from one developed country (US) to another (Canada). My reasons are mostly that I feel like it (i.e. I'm young and not doing much else, and I've been a Canadian citizen my whole life and never lived there) and partly that I got a job there after not finding a job in the states in a year of job hunting.

We'll see how I feel about the climate in northern Alberta though.
posted by jschu at 8:36 PM on February 8, 2009

This table from Statistics Canada sounds like at least part of what you're looking for.
posted by benign at 8:46 PM on February 8, 2009

Anecdote: I didn't move to another developed nation, but I left the US for Malaysia for a mix of marriage and "more congenial cultural conditions", to borrow the delightful euphemism up above. Particularly, I felt I could give my children a safer, more wholesome and enriching upbringing by raising them here. I can't really say how it has worked out in the end, except that after seven years it is so far so good. Immigrating here is very, very difficult though: I'm still on a visa.
posted by BinGregory at 9:37 PM on February 8, 2009

There is a cyclical, significant and long-standing pattern of economic emigration in Ireland, so statistical studies have been done here. Every time there's a recession, people leave - for the UK, the US, Canada and Australia. Ten years later when the economy is nicely recovered, they come back (or their kids come back) because you can't fill all the available jobs when 20% of your population is overseas.

Please note that in that particular study, numbers are 1000s. When they say fertility rates, they mean the live birth rate, and when they note "Fertility rates begin to fall significantly in the 1980s" they mean birth control became legal.

PS: When they noted in 2005 that "The Irish economy has generated jobs at an unprecedented rate since the mid-1990s and is expected to continue doing so for several more years at least" they turned out to be full of shit; Irish people are heading to Canada and Australia in droves.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:56 PM on February 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

I emigrated from Canada to the US almost 13 years ago. It was for a job (not even just a great one but one that would allow me to live in NYC while I was in my 20s) and I just ended up staying. I know lots of Canada-->US immigrants like me - they came for what they thought would just be a short term job opportunity and maybe a bit of fun they couldn't get back in Canada but ended up putting down some roots.
posted by marylynn at 12:49 PM on February 9, 2009

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