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Putin’s press secretary claimed a ‘far greater’ portion of Americans than Russians want to emigrate from their home country. He’s wrong.

Source: Meduza
Mladen Antonov / AFP / Scanpix / LETA

The claim

On April 5, Russia’s presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov was asked to comment on a Gallup report that showed one in five adult Russians would like to emigrate elsewhere. The figure was the highest recorded since 2007. Peskov responded as follows:

“These surveys are carried out by various companies in various countries, and that figure is far from the highest. For example, the number of Americans who want to emigrate from America is far greater than one fifth. Far greater. It’s a typical process. Some people prefer a more mobile way of life, and some people prefer a less mobile one. That makes this an absolutely standard topic for sociological research.”

Do Americans want to emigrate more than Russians do?

No. Gallup’s Russian survey was part of a global research project that asked residents of various countries the same question: “Ideally, if you had the opportunity, would you like to move permanently to another country, or would you prefer to continue living in this country?” The survey’s responses from the United States were published in January. There, 16 percent of respondents reported a desire to emigrate, which is also a ten-year record.

In short, a single set of surveys concluded that a smaller portion of Americans than Russians expressed a desire to emigrate.

Was Peskov right that Russia’s statistic isn’t the highest?

Yes. The average portion of the national population in all the countries surveyed that would emigrate given the chance was recorded at 15 percent. However, one fifth is approximately equal to the average portion of those who would emigrate from EU countries (21 percent). In Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa, the portion of residents who would emigrate is higher. The global survey included 13 countries where nearly half of respondents or more expressed a wish to leave.

Have Russians begun considering emigration more frequently in recent years?

It’s unlikely. Gallup’s survey showed that only 7 percent of respondents wished to emigrate in 2014, and since then, that figure has nearly doubled. However, Gallup’s data contradicts the results of surveys run by independent and state-owned organizations within Russia.

The state-owned Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM) and the independent Levada Center conduct annual surveys that include the question “Would you like to move abroad permanently or not?” The results of those surveys have been relatively stable over the past ten years; at least, they have not multiplied. However, while VCIOM’s figures show that 10 – 13 percent of Russians would emigrate, Levada’s range is more like 15 – 22 percent.

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Translation by Hilah Kohen