Russians Choose to Stay in Their Home Country, Poll Shows

PHOTO by Valery Sharifulin / TASS
The current economic crisis and Western sanctions have had no impact on Russians’ willingness to emigrate

The vast majority of Russians have never thought about relocating overseas, the Russian Public Opinion Research Centre VTsIOM reported.

A survey conducted by VTsIOM shows that 86% of Russians are not considering permanent relocation to a different country. Eleven percent of respondents said they wished to emigrate, while another three percent had difficulty answering the question.

Among those considering emigration, seven percent were planning to leave in the next one or two years, 13% thought of relocating in the coming three to five years and 51% did not name any specific time frame for their departure.

Leaving in Pursuit of a Better Life

Exactly half of the respondents mentioned better living standards and higher salaries abroad as their principal motives for wanting to leave Russia. Seven percent were attracted by better social welfare overseas while five percent disagreed with the Russian government’s policies. A small minority were dissatisfied with the climate in Russia or believed that career opportunities were better elsewhere.

According to earlier reports by the Russian Federal State Statistics Service, or Rosstat, most Russians that choose to emigrate do so for family and personal reasons. Analysts with the Civil Initiatives Committee, or KGI, which is headed by former finance minister Alexey Kudrin, claim that the primary causes for emigration from Russia are rather of a socio-economic and socio-political nature.

Most respondents in the VTsIOM survey wished to move to Germany, which was identified by VTsIOM as the most popular destination country for Russian emigrants. The US (seven percent) and France (five percent) ranked second and third, respectively.


Fewer Prospective Emigrants

The proportion of Russians willing to leave the country has remained almost constant over the past 15 years, VTsIOM reports. The rate was at its highest in 1991 when 16% of the country’s residents were thinking of emigrating.

In 1990, 13% of Russians believed their children and grandchildren would be happier outside Russia, whereas in 2016 this same sentiment was shared by 11% of respondents.

“The economic crisis and sanctions, as well as a number of other factors, have had no impact on Russians’ willingness to emigrate: no growth has been recorded,” VTsIOM concluded.

According to Rosstat, 4.5 million residents have left the country since the fall of the USSR. Emigration was at its highest in the early 1990s when most emigrants relocated in search of improved earnings. In the subsequent period, emigration showed a downward trend, reaching an all-time low of 32,500 in 2009. KGI analysts suggest that the numbers published by Rosstat must be increased by at least a factor of three to provide a realistic picture of Russian emigration.