In Search of Opportunity: Young and Educated Africans More Likely to Consider Moving Abroad

By 2050, it is projected that one in every four humans will be African as the continent doubles its population, accounting for more than half of global population growth. Even with a land mass greater than India, China, the United States, and Europe combined, and blessed with one-third of the earth’s mineral resources, will Africa be able to provide the livelihood opportunities its people demand and need? Despite significant economic growth in many African countries over the past two decades, a substantial number of Africans still see leaving their country to seek out a better future as their best option. Willing to risk abuse and enslavement, death in the desert or at sea, and hardship upon arrival, African emigrants have placed themselves on front pages and political agendas around the world. Although only 14% of the 258 million international migrants worldwide in 2017 were born in Africa sub-Saharan African nations account for eight of the 10 fastest-growing international migrant populations since 2010. The number of emigrants from each of these sub-Saharan countries grew by 50% or more between 2010 and 2017. At the country level, only Syria had a higher rate of growth in the number of citizens living in other countries. While migration can have positive effects it can also have negative consequences. Analysts have pointed to its drain on emerging economies, and populist movements in the West have decried immigration as a threat to domestic employment, security, and national culture. For policy makers faced with managing the challenges of international migration, a detailed understanding of its forms, patterns, and causes is critical.