When waves of middle-class and poverty-stricken migrants leave a country, many assume that it’s for reasons related to security, unemployment, or political instability.
However, a more reliable barometer of a country’s social and political health may be measured in the migrations of the wealthy.
In 2018 alone, more than 108,000 millionaires and billionaires fled their native countries to resettle elsewhere, a 14% increase from 2017.
This is all according to data collected by New World Wealth, a research firm headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa. New World Wealth tracks the financial data of 14 million millionaires and 2,100 billionaires globally.
Wealthy migrants may leave a country for the same reasons as any other migrant. Rising socio-economic tensions, political instability, rampant crime, and business decline.
However, the migrant flight of the wealthy may be a clue to unrevealed societal problems that the middle class and working class have yet to ascertain.
“It can be a sign of bad things to come as high-net-worth individuals are often the first people to leave,” says Andrew Amoils, research head at New World Wealth.
Most wealthy migrants flock to Australia, the United States, and Canada, in that respective order.
Australia is a top choice because there are no inheritance taxes, it’s safer, and has strong business ties to Asia. The country has not had a recession in almost 30 years.
The countries with the largest exoduses of the wealthy are China and Russia. Along with fleeing societal and political instability, most wealthy migrants flee wealth-centric taxation legislation.
Over 3,000 millionaires fled the U.K. in 2018 due to taxation and Brexit.
France, which has one of the strictest wealth taxation policies in the world, lost over 12,000 millionaires in 2016. Over 10,000 millionaires left France as tax exiles in 2015.
The volatile financial market fluctuations of many emerging market countries, such as Turkey and Russia, have also contributed to millionaire migrant flight.
More than 4,000 millionaires fled Turkey in 2018, the third year in a row that so many have left. Well over 7,000 millionaires have fled Russia since 2018.