What Holds Young Adults Back From Emigration?

What Holds Young Adults Back From Emigration?

What Holds Young Adults Back From Emigration?

When one looks at the numbers around emigration, it’s clear that the primary group of country-leavers are those between the ages of 35 and 45, with most falling into the upper end of the age group. Given the vast amount of opportunities in the world, it’s interesting that there aren’t more younger adults emigrating. We take a look at some of the factors which prohibit youths from emigration.

Five things keeping youth from emigrating

While the youth are quite reluctant to emigrate, the irony is that most countries favour young immigrants since they are generally considered to be in better health and capable of making a greater positive impact on society over a longer period. Likewise, many companies taking in foreign employees also prefer those under the age of 30 since they are more likely to integrate and adapt.

No need to leave the house

The interconnectedness which social media and the internet offers us is a dual-edged sword. While it brings us together over remote distances, it also means that we no longer need to go anywhere to experience the world. If you want to taste foreign snacks, simply order a treat box. If you want to learn about the culture, watch documentaries on Youtube or Netflix. Want to learn foreign languages, try an online course or follow a language TikTok channel. Of course this is true to an extent, but one cannot truly experience places and cultures without immersing yourself in them.

Fear of the known

Leaving the parental nest has been a daunting task through the ages, but it seems it’s becoming increasingly frightful with time. To an extent this also has to do with technological advances. While young adults in the past had to enter a world which is mostly unknown with limited contact and resources along the way (mobile phones, GPS, internet, instant money transfers, Google, etc. ). It is no longer the fear of the unknown which the youth find overwhelming, but the fear of the known. The nature of media is that the most sensational stories get the most airtime – and what’s more sensational than travel stories gone wrong?

The youth are far more aware of the challenges which they’ll face abroad, the things that could go wrong, their obligations in foreign countries, how expensive things are and so forth. One cannot really fault them for this – humans are conditioned to assess risks. The more information available, the more things we need to consider before making a decision.

When youths of the past set off to unknown destinations, the biggest risk was simply that they did not know the risks – what’s more, they were encouraged to take on these unknown challenges as a kind of right of passage. Whatever the future held, it would be dealt with in the moment.

More solutions = more obligations

In line with the above, in the past people could only catch up every now and then via phone or letters. Even at the eve of the internet and social media, dialup speeds, time zones and technological limits meant people weren’t online all day as we are in modern times.

While children undoubtedly shared certain bad experiences with their parents back home, the limited time and resources available meant that calls and messages were usually restricted to catching up and complaints could not be elaborated on at length. Even if youths had complaints in the past, these were less taxing to an extent since there simply weren’t solutions available. For the most part young adults found relief in the lack of resources.

It’s an odd dichotomy, but the sheer bulk and availability of resources available nowadays means that one cannot simply accept drawbacks without acting on them. This may seem like a silly gripe, but psychologically this places far more responsibility on young adults to source and apply solutions. There is far more admin involved in living life on your own, and this fills many people with anxiety. 

More choices = less decisions

The paradox of choice has been studied quite extensively over the years. This paradox states that the more choices we have the harder it is to decide and the less satisfied we are with our choices in the end.

As with the risks and solutions in our previous points, the innumerable options available to youths these days makes it harder to choose. Since the paradox of choice has existed throughout time, it’s not something we can blame children for. Adults often use the age old, “In our days things were…” as a criticism against youth for being ungrateful or not taking charge of their lives, but doing so is fallacious. Psychologically humans have always found it harder to choose the more options they have.

Doom and gloom

One of the greatest deterrents to ambition is undoubtedly the state of the world. Between climate change, pandemics, global overpopulation, political shocks and even invasion of countries the youth simply doesn’t have a very bright outlook on life. Can’t really blame them when politicians, economists and scientists keep preaching doom and gloom. Can’t blame them when the politicians in charge of the world are too many generations removed from the youth to understand their needs and desires.

This doom and gloom makes it hard to engage in adventures and be hopeful for the future.

Inexperience and lack of confidence

An age-old deterrent for taking on new challenges is simply a lack of experience. When youths have spent their formative years navigating through the institutions of school and varsity, they do not yet trust themselves in unknown situations.

It’s normal to be apprehensive when you don’t yet have a frame of reference for how you will cope in new situations. We each have an idea of how we will cope under stress or when faced with situations we’ve never experienced before, but it’s easier to set goals when we have actual knowledge of our own behaviours and actions. 

How to encourage youths to take the leap

Most parents fear the empty nest and don’t want their children to be too far out of reach, but with age comes the realisation that certain things are simply best experienced when young.

If you want to encourage your children to fly the nest, try the following:

 – Research unique opportunities, locations, social groups and activities which may appeal to your child’s interests and personality and show them what adventures may await. While our children are online most of the time, they don’t necessarily access information like that on their own.
 – Tell them to narrow down their choices to two or three destinations and then draw up a comprehensive list of pros and cons for each to help them choose.
 – While risks and drawbacks should form part of the pros and cons, the risks should be avoided when discussing destinations in casual conversation. Focus on the good, wholesome and upbeat stories about destinations. Your children will experience hardships wherever they go, fixating on them in advance won’t deter bad things from happening.
 – Remind your children that it’s important to dream, and dream big, no matter the risks or the gloom shouted out at them by the media. Knowing that the world may face catastrophes won’t prevent catastrophes from happening.
 – Encourage your children to seek out unique jobs and roles. Gone are the days where everyone became teachers, doctors, lawyers, builders or bankers. There are millions of positions which appeal to interests across industries and for people of varied aptitude and interest.
 – Remind them that no decision needs to be permanent. While we want our children to learn responsibility and stick to their guns, there’s nothing wrong with changing one’s mind or wrapping up a period in one’s life. In fact, they should know that each experience is simply part of their lives and not representative of a bad or good decision. Even when things don’t go to plan, there will be good things along the way, valuable lessons to learn and good friendships to be forged – no matter how long a life phase lasts. We grow through good and bad experiences alike and should not fear failure.

Are they ready to take the leap?

If your children, nieces, nephews, students or other youths are eager to set off and need help with their forex and cross-border finances, simply leave your details below and we’ll get in touch.

Please note: in line with POPIA stipulations we ask that you not complete the form with someone else’s details. Instead – we can contact you and provide information which you can give them and prompt them to get in touch with us personally.

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