A willingness to work abroad has become the new normal, at least among people looking for new job opportunities, who represent the majority of the survey’s participants. One in every five participants already has international work experience, and almost 64 percent said they would be willing to go to another country for work. (See Exhibit 3.)
In some countries, the eagerness to work elsewhere is impossible to miss. Mihaella Ciornei, a 23-year-old account manager at a securities firm in Romania and part-time anthropology student, says a lot of her friends have left to look for overseas opportunities. “They’re all over Europe, they’re in America, Australia,” she says. “They want to see the world. They are gone.” Ciornei already has a mother living in Italy and a sister living in France, and she herself is among the 81 percent of Romanians who say they would be willing to work abroad.
The proportion of people willing to work abroad is particularly high in countries that are still developing economically or are experiencing political instability. For instance, more than 97 percent of Pakistanis say they’d be willing to go abroad for work.
But there is also a very high willingness to work abroad in some countries that aren’t struggling with major political upheaval. For example, about 94 percent of survey respondents in the Netherlands say they would consider moving to another country for work. In France, where the economy has been showing signs of stagnating, the same proportion (94 percent) is willing to leave home at least temporarily. “Depending on the project, I’m ready to pack a bag and go tomorrow,” says Alexis Sebaoun, a 29-year-old engineer living in Marseille who has already worked in Spain, Argentina, and the UK in his short career.
On the other hand, people in the U.S., Germany, and the UK—three economies that have rebounded more convincingly—aren’t nearly as willing to go abroad for work. Barely a third of U.S. respondents say they’d consider the idea, and only about 44 percent of those in the UK and Germany say they would be interested in taking a job in another country. The reasons for the lower numbers differ, but many people in these countries say economic stability and the comfort of home keep them from considering a job abroad.