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Poll says Jamaicans are eager to leave country

Published:Wednesday | February 11, 2015 | 12:00 AMGary Spaulding

Yet another study has found that a sizeable portion of young Jamaicans can't wait to ditch the land of their birth for "greener pastures".

A Gleaner-commissioned Bill Johnson poll has found that more than four out of every 10 Jamaicans harbour a burning desire to get out of Jamaica.

Forty-three per cent of Jamaicans interviewed in the poll conducted by Johnson said that either they or person/s in their immediate families hoped to migrate to another country within the next five years or so.

Another 39 per cent indicated that no one in their families had signalled an interest in migrating, while 18 per cent indicated that they did now know.

One thousand one hundred Jamaicans were interviewed in the survey, which was conducted on January 17 and 18, 2015, with a sampling error of plus or minus three per cent.

The findings were consistent with that of another survey conducted last year by the Centre for Leadership and Governance in the Department of Government at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona campus, which found that a majority of Jamaican youth felt neglected. It also found that 49.3 per cent of young adults said they would give up their citizenship and live in another country, citing the need for better opportunities.

The Johnson survey found that 44 per cent of youth between the ages of 18 and 24 years indicated that they would fly out of Jamaica. Similarly, 44 per cent between the ages of 25 and 34 would leave, while 46 per cent of Jamaicans between the ages of 35 and 44 would.

"I didn't want to run away while I was there, and I am not even sure how I would feel now," said 25-year-old Shantelee Brown, who is studying in the United States. "But everybody I know wants to leave," she added.

"Every day I log on to the media in Jamaica (and they are) showing that there are at least five murder cases reported," said Brown. "Every time I visit a Jamaican group on Facebook, all I see is people complaining about the lack of employment opportunities."

Said Brown: "The dollar sliding away and everyone I know is trying to get a visa ... I don't blame them for wanting to leave as Jamaica is at a really bad place right now, and the Government needs to find a way to revive that patriotic spirit within the people."

Still, there are indications that some Jamaicans were more resigned to remaining in Jamaica, with 33 per cent of persons between 55 and 64 years and 22 per cent of Jamaicans 65 and over willing to migrate.

Financial analyst Aubyn Hill has suggested, in a Gleaner article, that lack of economic opportunities prompts the urge to flee.

"Some people who leave may have been quite willing to try and manage the crime problem if they were making a good living," said Hill. "Many Jamaican emigrants leave because they have no good economic opportunities around them, nor can they see any developing in the foreseeable future."