Immigration has historically occurred on a needs-must basis. The Great Migrations of the past were largely motivated by the pursuit of jobs, a more fertile land, or even religious freedom. These days travelling is, of course, a lot easier and much more common; we’re no longer obligated to spend days on inhospitable ships, and intrepid voyagers are motivated more often by a touristic desire than necessity. Many of us are lucky enough to have the option of hopping on a plane and sampling other cultures for a short time, or picking up a temporary visa to immerse ourselves in the life of another country and benefit from the opportunities on offer outside our native nation.
Of course, while tourists and young people may often travel or migrate for pleasure, and motivations for migration are still heavily influenced by factors like politics, war and poverty. The global economic crisis has hit some previously comfortable countries hard, and the global population continues to grow at a startling rate, causing a huge increase in the volume of emigrants the world over and a change in migration habits. According to the International Organization for Migration, the estimated number of international migrants worldwide was 314 million in 2013; just over a decade ago, at the turn of the century, that number was just 150 million.
Immigrants across the globe are met with varying degrees of welcome and warmth by the native population, and with increasing numbers of immigrants comes an increasing need for government policy to control, monitor – and sometimes restrict – immigration. Social problems like isolation of minority immigrant groups , or ‘ghettoisation’, are both the cause and effect of the immigrant’s occasional difficulty to integrate. In something of a ‘chicken or egg’ situation, some immigrant groups gravitate towards their fellow countrymen for pragmatic reasons – like linguistic and cultural common ground. However, this segregation can exacerbate negative feeling towards immigrant groups, which in turn further aggravates a feeling of isolation or ‘otherness’.
And so, as an immigrant, which country best avoids these problems and offers the most inviting environment for the potential immigrant? The Social Progress Imperative has recently offered governments and citizens a way of analysing just this. Launched in 2013 in Oxford, UK, the Social Progress Index or SPI is a tool which comprehensively measures the capacity of a society to meet the basic needs of its inhabitants, measuring essentials like food, security, shelter, education, access to healthcare, an optimum environment and education as well as the opportunity to improve their daily lives by locating to another country. The immigrations rates typically tend to be higher when the opportunity cost is lower. Using sources like the Gallup World Poll, this group have divided key countries into their abilities to furnish basic human needs, promote wellbeing and offer opportunity. On this scale, includes an assessment of a country’s tolerance of immigrants – and the findings were sometimes surprising.
The following 10 countries have been reported by the SPI as the least welcoming and least positive environments in the world for foreign immigrants, so if you’re thinking of relocating any time soon – take heed.
10. Russian Federation – Tolerance Score: 41.82
In terms of its overall performance on the SPI, Russia has a score 46.89. The largest nation in the world, the Russian Federation is the world’s 8th most populous country, with over 143 million inhabitants. According to the Social Progress Index, though, Russia ranks only 41st in terms of ”Tolerance of Immigrants”, which makes it the 10th least tolerant country on a global level. It performs highly in ”Access to Higher Education”, but just like Sri Lanka, it scores poorly in ”Personal Rights”. Despite a large economy and an impressive education system, though, given the country’s reported tolerance for immigrants this might not be the best option for foreign students.
9. Poland – Tolerance Score: 39.66
Poland, ranking 13th in the world based on social progress performance, is still the 9th least tolerant country when it comes to immigrants – and is notable as the only European country appearing in the bottom 10. Poland has a population of more than 38 million people, which makes it the 6th largest in the EU with a GDP per capita of $21,261. Although it ranks 14th in the world based on measured ”Opportunity” dimension according to the SPI, Poland ranks 42nd on a global level in terms of ”Tolerance for Immigrants”. This least tolerant country in Europe performs poorly in ”Equity and Inclusion” and does best for its ”Access to Higher Education”. Poland also ranks 10th in terms of issues covered by the ”Foundations of Wellbeing” dimension. It’s tolerance for immigrants falls far below Poland’s other hopeful progress indicators.
8. Vietnam – Tolerance Score: 36.96
Vietnam ranks 30th in the world based on overall social progress performance but it’s still one of the 10 countries least tolerant of immigrants. Vietnam has a population of more than 90 million inhabitants and it is the 13th most populous country in the world. Of the issues covered by the ”Opportunity” dimension – and similarly to other Asian countries on this list – Vietnam performs strongly in ” Personal Freedom and Choice”, but falls short in ”Personal Rights”. Vietnam has a GDP per capita of $4,001. Of all the three dimensions of the SPI, Vietnam highest score is in the area of ”Basic Human Needs”, ranking 17th in the world. Only 0.1% of Vietnam’s population are immigrants, though: So the low tolerance of immigrants could down to a lack of experience – or the low level of immigrants could be down to an unwelcoming environment!
7. Jordan – Tolerance Score: 35.34
This Arab kingdom located in the Middle East, Jordan is the world s 7th least tolerant country of immigrants. Jordan has a population of 6.5 million people, of which an incredible 40% are classified immigrants. The country, which is classified as having a medium human development level, also performs weakly when it comes to personal rights on the SPI scale. Despite the high volume of immigrants, Jordan has been classified as an intolerant environment for the almost 3 million foreigners who reside there.
6. Israel – Tolerance Score: 34.8
This nation in Western Asia ranks 16th in the world on the Social Progress Index scale. Israel has a population of 8 million people and a high GDP per capita of $ 34,875, but it is one of the lowest-performing countries on the SPI scale for tolerance towards immigrants. Of all the three dimensions of the SPI, Israel performs best in ”Foundations of Wellbeing” – ranking 7th highest on the scale for an aggregate of things like access to basic knowledge and health and wellness.
5. India – Tolerance Score: 34.26
0.5% of India’s population are classified as immigrants – a small percentage, but a still-hefty number of 5.7 million. India ranks at 43rd on a global level in terms of social progress performance as per the SPI scale. India is the second most populous nation in the world, with more than 1.2 billion inhabitants and a GDP per capita of $ 3,990. In terms of ”Tolerance for Immigrants”, India ranks 46th in the world, making it the SPI’s 5th least-tolerant country towards immigrants.
4. China – Tolerance Score: 33.72
The world’s most populous country, with more than 1.35 billion inhabitants, is also one of the world’s least tolerant of immigrants. With a GDP per capita of $ 9,800, China ranks 32nd in terms of overall social progress performance. China’s regulations on immigrants are strict, and only 0.1% of the country’s population is classified as immigrant. With a low-level but promising economy, the country still holds strict restrictions on immigration – so for those hoping to jump on the bandwagon of this country’s rapidly developing economy, beware that China has been cited as a particularly intolerant environment for foreigners!
3. Egypt – Tolerance Score: 32.1
Egypt has a country score of 43.94 and ranks 40th on a global level in terms of social-progress-related performance. Of all the three dimensions, it performs best in ”Basic Human Needs”, ranking 28th in the world and worst in ”Opportunity”. In terms of ”Opportunity”-related issues, Egypt scores highly in ”Access to Higher Education” yet performs poorly in ”Personal Freedom and Choice”. Egypt has a population of more than 84 million inhabitants, of which about 160,000 are immigrants.
2. Thailand – Tolerance Score : 31.02
5.6% of Thailand’s population are immigrants, yet this country comes in as one of the very least tolerant towards immigrants. This Asian nation ranks 23rd in the world according to the SPI. With a population of more than 66 million people and a GDP per capita of $10, 849, Thailand is one of the most popular spots for tourists, but apparently that welcome doesn’t extend to past the initial off-the-plane flush of goodwill. Thailand has had a history marked by war, and became democratic only after 1932. Despite the country’s reliance on tourism, and despite the 3.7 million immigrant population, Thailand is still largely intolerant of immigrants.
1. Indonesia – Tolerance Score: 30.48
According to the SPI compiled by the SociaI Progress Imperative, Indonesia has a tiny population of immigrants relative to the native population – less than 0.1% – which is generally typical of those countries featured in the bottom 10. This sovereign state is the 4th most populous in the world, with more than 237 million people, and has a – decreasing – GDP per capita of $5,182. This country, with the lowest tolerance of ethnic diversity on our list; though this may have much to do with the political issues in Indonesia. Significant racism against Chinese Indonesians has been reported in the past, as well as violence toward Papuan people in the country.