Drawing on data collected in 2014, researchers Dr Amanda Klekowski von Koppenfels from the University of Kent’s Brussels School of International Studies (BSIS), and Dr Helen Marrow of Tufts University, USA, identified the reasons for this as: exploration (87.4%); retirement (50.8%); leaving a bad or disappointing situation in the US (49.0%); and working (48.3%).
Previous research from Dr Klekowski von Koppenfels has shown that adventure or exploration is the primary reason American migrants who are already abroad give for migration, with marriage/partnership a very close second. This new study builds on that research and examines what motivations prospective American migrants have, whether they end up leaving or not.
The study also found that the aspiration to live abroad is strongly predicted by national identity. On the other hand, there is almost no correlation between political ideology – whether someone identifies as politically liberal or conservative –and Americans’ aspiration to live abroad.
Dr Klekowski von Koppenfels said: ‘When we looked at what underlying factors played a role in Americans’ thinking about migrating, we found that having a less than “very strong” American national identity was an important factor. Others that played a role were knowing other Americans who had lived abroad or having served in the US military, both of which are networks our respondents might tap into.
‘While one might think that ideological orientation plays a role, at least in this pre-Trump survey, we found out that it did not, at least not directly.’
The research, Modeling American Migration Aspirations: How Capital, Race, and National Identity Shape Americans’ Ideas about Living Abroad by Dr Helen B Marrow and Dr Amanda Klekowski von Koppenfels is published in International Migration Review.