AD281: Almost half of Malawians consider emigration; most-educated are most likely to look overseas

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Sadhiska Bhoojedhur and Thomas Isbell

Between 2000 and 2017, the number of international migrants from Africa grew by 67%, including many professionals opting for greener pastures in developed countries (Pathera, 2014; Wulfhorst, 2018; Pew Research Center, 2018; Chloe, 2007). In Malawi, the resulting strain on the health-care system has received particular attention, as the country loses more nurses than it trains and faces serious staffing shortages in the health sector (Masanjala, 2018).

A young population, high population growth rate, high unemployment, and comparatively low salaries for professionals may make emigration a particularly attractive option for many Malawians (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, 2018; International Organization for Migration, 2014).

In this dispatch, we use Afrobarometer survey data to explore how ordinary Malawians feel about emigration. Almost half of respondents say they have considered emigration, including about one in 25 Malawian adults who say they are taking concrete steps to leave the country. Citizens with post-secondary educational qualifications are particularly likely to consider moving abroad. Most would head for South Africa, although the best-educated are more likely to consider North America and Europe, and most cite escaping poverty or finding work as their reasons.