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Posted on Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 10:46 a.m.

Immigration Reform: Who dreams of coming to America?

By Wayne Baker


The most famous African author of the 20th century, Nigerian Chinua Achebe, never dreamed of moving to the United States. Nevertheless, he lived here on and off in recent decades. The United States represented a safe haven and an important global pulpit for Achebe’s messages. When he died on March 21 at age 82, he was living in Boston. Photo by Stuart C. Shapiro released for public use via Wikimedia Commons.

Editor's note: This post is part of a series by Dr. Baker on Our Values about core American values. This week Dr. Baker is discussing immigration reform.

Who still wants to come?

That’s today’s question and reflects the popular image of immigration as a veritable flood of people from around the world who would move to America if they could.

First, is that image accurate? Do millions of people around the world dream of coming to America?

Gallup’s worldwide survey of 154 nations found: About 13 percent of the world’s adult population would like to move permanently to another country. That’s about 630 million who would like to emigrate.

What’s the Number One preferred destination? Yes, it is the United States. An estimated 138 million adults would like to move permanently to America. That’s equal to 44 percent of the current population of the United States.

But the U.S. is not the only dream destination: Other favored destinations include the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Saudi Arabia, Germany and Australia.

In raw numbers, China, Nigeria, India, and Brazil would be the biggest “suppliers” of migrants to the United States. Gallup estimates that 48 million people from these four nations would like to relocate permanently to America.

There are four countries where 25 percent or more of the total adult population would like to move here permanently. Over one-third (37 percent ) of adults in Liberia would like to move to the United States, 30 percent of adults in Sierra Leone, 28 percent of adults in Dominican Republic, and 25 percent from Haiti.

Are you surprised by these findings?

Does this information shape your views on immigration reform?

What’s your story of immigration?

Wayne Baker is a sociologist on the faculty of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. Baker blogs daily at Our Values and can be reached at or on Facebook.



Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 4:25 p.m.

If you were to "open"immigration to folks who wish to come here, you would have at least 1 billion folks flooding the US. I guarantee, the folks who came to California 20-30 years did not expect the transformation to take place to rapidly and not for the better. I bet you they now have to compete for the same jobs that the new comers are taking at a cheaper rate.