Global Mobility Survey

The main reasons to work abroad

Findings from the Global Talent Mobility Study tally with academic research by Tilburg University in 2008, both showing that there are four main reasons for mobility within the international labour market. The primary reason given, unsurprisingly, is the desire to start an international career, with half of respondents citing this as a reason. Interestingly, jobseekers who give this as their main reason don’t express a strong preference for a specific location, and many can imagine themselves working in more than 10 countries, demonstrating that the desire for an international career generally leads to more flexibility.

The second most popular reason given by jobseekers, chosen by a third, is a desire to work in a specific country or city. People falling into this category selected on average three preferred countries.


A tenth of mobile workers would move abroad to join family and loved ones in a specific country, while 9% look to an international career to facilitate working for international organisations. People from the Middle East are more likely (17%) to move for family and loved ones than people from any other region in the world. Jobseekers in Europe in North America, however, have a strong preference for certain countries, with 40% expressing a clear opinion in both these regions. Workers in Africa, Asia and Latin America tend to see the chance to have an international career as the single biggest motivating factor, while international organisations are particularly attractive for jobseekers from Africa and the Middle East.