May 21 2008 at 05:51PM
Twenty percent of South Africans are planning to emigrate or are seriously considering it, according to the results of a survey released on Wednesday by global market research company Synovate.
Spokesperson Jake Orpen said 600 respondents were interviewed in all nine provinces of South Africa, using face-to-face interviews.
The results were weighted to ensure representation across province, age, gender and race.
"South Africans are not in the best frame of mind lately, due to the obvious political uncertainty, economic instability and electricity problems," Orpen said.
The option to emigrate was most popular amongst young and middle-aged South Africans (18 to 44 years).
This was of concern because this age group represented South Africa's current and future skills set.
Rand Merchant Bank Senior Economist, Ettienne le Roux, said: "The obvious negative for any country experiencing high levels of emigration is the loss of skills and the future income these skills would have generated.
"If emigration is not matched by immigration of people of at least the same skill, the country will no doubt be worse off.
"In this regard, it is encouraging that the South African government is showing preliminary signs of making it easier for skilled foreigners to come and work in our country."
Some 27 percent of respondents believed that they would be able to successfully emigrate, would have the required funds and that they were well qualified.
On the other hand, 51 percent of respondents said they would not be able to afford emigration and the remainder were unsure.
According to a recent FNB survey, emigration has been cited as the biggest single reason for selling upper-end properties.
The USA emerged as the most popular choice of destination, followed by the UK, Australia and New Zealand.
The main pull factor for immigrating to a country was business and employment opportunities in other countries, 88 percent of respondents stated.
Itchy feet, the desire to explore a new country and experience different cultures, were cited by more than a third of those considering emigration, the survey reported.
The main push factor for emigrating from South Africa was violence, crime and corruption, 55 percent of respondents said.
Other push factors were South Africa's volatile economy and the cost of living (19 percent), governmental problems (13 percent) and infrastructure concerns (6 percent).
Family reasons (14 percent), such as joining extended families abroad and better education for children, were also mentioned.
South Africans (4 percent) admitted to having encouraged their children (of university-going age) to leave South Africa and a further 3 percent said they would encourage their children when the children were old enough.
Some 85 percent of respondents said that they had not been encouraged by anyone to leave South Africa. Fifteen percent said they had been encouraged by others to emigrate, of which 8 percent said that when considering emigration, friends were the main influences.
A third of the respondents surveyed said they knew someone who had emigrated from South Africa in the past five years.
Those who had emigrated were perceived to have left for work or crime related reasons.
However, 47 percent of respondents had no intention of leaving South Africa and a further 17 percent had not thought about it.
When quizzed on the things they loved about South Africa, 46 percent said the climate and nature were the main attractions.
Eighteen percent of respondents loved the South African people. Fifteen percent pointed to the freedom South Africans had been granted and 14 percent pointed to the diverse cultures that existed in South Africa.
Just over a tenth loved South Africa because it was home to family and friends. - Sapa