Staunton, June 9 – The fact that 48 percent of Russians aged 18 to 24 want to move abroad, according to a new Levada Center poll, has received the headlines; but the survey highlighted two other developments that may matter more. That 48 figure is actually a decline from September 2019, and Russians aged 25 to 54 displayed sharp rises in the shares wanting to leave.
Thirty-three percent of those aged 25 to 39 and 21 percent of those aged 40 to 54 now say they would like to move abroad, figures far higher than in recent years. These age groups are in their prime working life, and their desire to leave is a far bigger indictment of the Putin system than the desires of the young who are not yet integrated in the workplace and have less to lose.
In fact, it was the rising share of those in these two working-age cohorts that pushed up the overall figure given that the share of younger people fell. It is no longer just the young who are upset with the direction Russia is moving; it is precisely those who are supposed to be most integrated in its system (levada.ru/2021/06/09/emigratsiya-2/).
Given that expressions of a desire to move abroad are less an indication of actual plans than a reflection of judgments about the place people are located in when they are asked, these findings are even more of a “no” vote on the situation in Russia than many might think on first encountering these data.