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Thread: Singapore a top choice for migrants

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    Default Singapore a top choice for migrants

    November 5, 2009 Thursday

    Singapore a top choice for migrants

    Gallup index shows S'pore population would jump to 13m if it takes in all who wished to come here

    By Lin Zhaowei

    SINGAPORE is a top immigration hot spot, according to a global survey conducted by Gallup.

    If it were to take in all adults who wish to settle in the country, its adult population of 3.6 million would jump to 13 million, said the survey released this week.

    Gallup arrived at this figure by using what it called the Potential Net Migration Index (PNMI).

    The index is the estimated number of adults who wish to leave a country permanently subtracted from the estimated number who wish to immigrate to the country, as a proportion of the total adult population.

    The higher a positive PNMI value, the greater the potential of net population gain, proportional to the population size.

    Singapore emerged tops with the highest PNMI value of 260 per cent, followed by Saudi Arabia (180 per cent), New Zealand (175 per cent), Canada (170 per cent) and Australia (145 per cent).

    At the other end of the scale, the Democratic Republic of the Congo's score was minus 60 per cent, which means that more people want to leave the country permanently than settle in it.

    For the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, only Arab nationals and Arab expatriates were interviewed for the 2007-2009 survey, which polled about 260,000 people aged 15 and older in 135 countries.

    Singapore's ranking in the PNMI may not be entirely surprising given its relatively small population size and strong and stable economy, analysts said.

    According to the United Nations' 2009 Human Development Report, Singapore is already a popular immigration destination.

    It ranked No. 10 in the world in terms of the share of immigrants as part of total population, at 35 per cent.

    The UN report also showed that Singapore had a relatively low emigration rate of 6.3 per cent.

    'If most of those who say they want to come here are mostly economic migrants from other Asian countries, I won't be surprised because Singapore's economy is doing quite well relatively,' Dr Chua Beng Huat, a sociology professor at the National University of Singapore, told The Straits Times when asked to comment on the Gallup survey findings.

    On the whole, the survey found that some 700 million people - or 16 per cent of the world's population - would like to relocate permanently to another country, if they had the chance.

    The United States was the most desired destination overall in terms of numbers - around 165 million adults would like to move there permanently if they could.

    Other top destinations included Canada, Britain, France (all three with around 45 million potential migrants); Spain (35 million) and Saudi Arabia (30 million).

    Sub-Saharan Africa was the region with the highest percentage of people who would like to emigrate, at around 38 per cent.

    The corresponding figure for the Middle East and North Africa was 23 per cent, and 19 per cent and 18 per cent respectively for Europe and the Americas.

    Those living in Asia were the least likely to emigrate, with only 10 per cent expressing a desire to do so.

    Ms Neli Esipova, Gallup's director of research for global migration, said the findings showed that hundreds of millions of people around the world felt pulled or pushed towards countries other than their own.

    'Who these potential migrants are, where they would like to go and why will continue to be crucial for leaders in countries of origin and destination to understand as they develop migration and development strategies during the economic crisis and well after,' she said.

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    Where migrants want to go to

    Countries with highest PNMI*

    1. Singapore (+260 per cent)

    2. Saudi Arabia (+180 per cent)

    3. New Zealand (+175 per cent)

    4. Canada (+170 per cent)

    5. Australia (+145 per cent)

    * The PNMI is the estimated number of adults who wish to leave a country permanently subtracted from the estimated number who wish to immigrate to the country, as a proportion of the total adult population.

    Top destinations (by country)

    1. United States

    2. Canada

    3. Britain

    4. France

    5. Spain

    Top sources of potential migrants (by region)

    1. Sub-Saharan Africa

    2. Middle East and North Africa

    3. Europe

    4. Americas

    5. Asia

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    13 million want to live here
    Alicia Wong
    Thursday, 5 November 2009

    Should all who want to live in Singapore be granted their wish, the island could be overwhelmed with a population of up to 13 million, even if some restless locals seek greener pastures elsewhere.

    This appeal the Republic holds for potential immigrants puts it right at the top of research firm Gallup's Potential Net Migration Index, consolidated after a three-year survey of where the world's adults would like to move to permanently.

    Places like the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and France are, not surprisingly, the most popular destination countries in absolute terms, the survey found. But the index measures - as a proportion of the total population - the estimated number of people who want to live in a country minus those who want to move out.

    With a top score of 260%, "Singapore's adult population would increase from an estimated 3.6 million to as high as 13 million," Gallup reported on its website.

    It's both good and disturbing news for Singapore, which has grappled with the economic imperative to persuade talented foreigners to take up roots here, but also the need to control the migrant influx and its problems for a tiny city-state with limited land.

    After accelerating immigration numbers in recent years, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong two months ago signalled a slowdown in the intake.

    Sociologist Paulin Straughan said the survey findings "mean that hopefully we will be in a situation where we can afford to be selective". "If the statistics are reliable, it seems to suggest we are in a happy situation where we have a bigger pool of talent (to choose from)," the Nominated Member of Parliament added.

    But who are those who want to move here? The Gallup survey, which interviewed 259,600 adults from 135 countries over the telephone or face-to-face, did not specify.

    It did, however, show that of the 700 million worldwide who would like to live elsewhere, 38% were from Sub-Saharan Africa and 23% from the Middle East and North Africa, while Asians were the most content to stay put - only one in 10 wanted to move permanently.

    As for Singapore's overall attractiveness, it was this year ranked by Mercer as being the world's 26th most liveable city, but also the 10th most expensive.

    MP Charles Chong (Pasir Ris-Punggol) is "not surprised" with the Gallup findings. "(There are) many bigger countries where the situation is comparatively less fortunate than the situation here."

    At his Meet-the-People sessions, he encounters "quite a lot of people (who) want their relatives, parents to move here". The Government will have to "strike a balance" in taking in those with talent, and those who do the jobs locals are not inclined towards, he added.

    But as for Singaporeans who want to leave, they will likely be the "educated, professional and (those who) have skills" - and they will need to be replaced, said Associate Professor Straughan. About 1,000 emigrate each year.

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