More than half of Russia’s youths want to emigrate

The proportion of young people in Russia who do not want to link their future to the country has grown dramatically, the sociologists at the Levada Center have discovered.

A survey conducted in September in 50 of Russia’s federal subjects showed that 53% of respondents between 18 and 24 years of age wanted to emigrate. Their numbers have jumped by nearly 50% compared to May, and hit a record for at least the 10 years of monitoring.

The summer months, which were accompanied by protests in Moscow and a new wave of clamping down by the authorities, increased the non-acceptance of the situation in Russia by all age groups, according to the survey.

Among people aged 25-39, the number of those who wanted to leave grew from 23% to 30%, reaching a 6-year high. Among those aged 40-54, the proportion of potential emigrants rose from 14% to 19%, setting a ten-year record at least.

Even among the senior generation (55+) there were more people who “would rather” or “definitely” want to leave Russia, with 7% responding in this manner in September compared to 5% in May.

Overall, one in every fifth Russian (21%) would leave if given the opportunity, the survey showed. This is almost the all-time record, with a higher figure recorded only in 2013 (22%).

Those who desire to emigrate more frequently experienced “confusion” (17%) and “shame for what is going on in the country” (18%), and the thoughts of jumping ship were generally linked to the fact that they did not see a future for their children in Russia.

“The desire to ensure a decent future” for their offspring was identified as a motive by 45% of respondents. Nearly the same number – 40% – named “the economic situation in Russia” as the reason.

One third of respondents cited the “high quality of medical services” abroad (35%), one in four “opportunities for career growth” (28%) and “a high quality of education” (26%).

Finally, 12% said that it was the “high level of legal and social protection abroad” that was forcing them to consider leaving.

Of the large number who wish to leave, 7% of the population have been taking real steps towards emigrating. Levada notes that this number has remained essentially unchanged since 2017. However, one in five respondents had acquaintances who have moved abroad.

“Young people (31%) and respondents with a higher level of wealth (28%) and education (26%) had such acquaintances more frequently,” Levada notes.

The migration away from Russia is primarily a brain drain. A survey by the Boston Consulting Group last year showed that 50% of Russian scientists, 52% of senior managers and 54% of IT specialists would like to work abroad. 49% of engineering specialists and 46% of doctors are ready to join them.

Nearly two thirds of the potential emigrants (65%) are “digital talents”: artificial intelligence specialists, scrum masters, user interface designers etc., and 57% of them are people no older than 30. Among students (up to 21 years of age), the proportion is even higher, at 59%.

According to the World Bank, 10.6 million Russian citizens left the country to work abroad in 2017. In terms of absolute emigrant numbers, Russia is solidly at the top of the 24 states which the WB includes in the region “Europe and Central Asia”.

In relative terms, the loss amounts to 7.4% of the population. If pensioners (35 million) are excluded from the calculation, then the country has lost 9.7% of its current citizens of a working age (work force) and children.

  Russia, Russian Economy, Levada Center, World Bank