12 million Ukrainians expected to flee to the EU

30 mars 2022

Illustration of refugees

The war in Ukraine has forced a large portion of the country’s population to leave and many are fleeing to EU countries.

Some 12 million Ukrainian refugees are expected to come to the EU. It's anticipated that more than one in three of them will want to travel to Germany. Poland is the second most sought-after country (15.4%), followed by Italy (10.9%), France (7.3%) and the Czech Republic (7.0%). Just 2.5% have stated Sweden as their first choice. This corresponds to 300,000 refugees, which is considerably higher than the Swedish Migration Agency’s estimates.

This has been shown by a new study and survey carried out by researchers at Uppsala University in collaboration with Delmi. The survey is based on data from the Gallup World Poll (GWP), which is based on annual interview surveys in 160 countries and regions of the world in over 140 languages. The sample in each country consists of at least 1,000 individuals, representative of the population aged 15 and over, making GWP the largest representative survey in the world. According to GWP, it represents 99% of the world’s adult population.

Move to another country

In the years 2007-2021, on average 26% of Ukrainians indicated that they wanted to move to another country. Of those who wanted to move, about half (47%) wanted to move to an EU country.

The interviews were conducted before the war broke out, and according to the researchers, it can be assumed that the number of people who move will be even higher than in the report.

“If one in four wanted to move even before the war, of course there are many more now. Living conditions in the country have deteriorated and the possibilities of being well received and having a good future in the EU have improved. “This will probably mean that even more people will prefer the EU to other countries,” says Mikael Elinder.

Countries outside EU

On the basis of the figures presented in the report, it seems not unlikely that 12 million Ukrainians will try to leave the country if they are allowed to enter an EU country. Countries outside the EU, such as Moldova and Russia, have also received many refugees from Ukraine, but it now appears that the vast majority of them will be heading for an EU country.

Mikael Elinder
Mikael Elinder is a Associate
Professor at the Department of Economics. 
Photo: Mikael Wallerstedt

“If we assume that 12 million are leaving Ukraine to seek shelter in an EU country and that 2.5% will come to Sweden, that means 300,000 Ukrainians would come to Sweden. The number that might come to Sweden according to these calculations far exceeds the Swedish Migration Agency’s highest-case scenario, which estimates 212,000. We will have to wait and see how this pans out, and largely depends on factors that we are not aware of today.”

The results of this report show that Germany is the country to which the most Ukrainians want to move. As many as 36% of those who want to move to an EU country indicated that they want to go to Germany. Even in relation to Germany’s population size, it appears to be one of the most attractive EU countries for Ukrainians (after the Czech Republic and Luxembourg). About 2.5% say they want to move to Sweden. This corresponds well to Sweden’s size (Sweden accounts for 2.3% of the EU’s population). In this sense, Sweden is neither particularly popular nor unpopular among Ukrainians.