Almost half of Iranian youth want to leave the country amid pessimism about their future, a recent opinion survey conducted from abroad shows.

Asked if they would go and live in a foreign country given the chance; 49 percent of people aged 18-29 said yes. The percentage among the general population was fully one-third.

Statis Consulting, a US based opinion research outfit focusing on Iran, conducted the poll among 1,246 Iranian residents aged 18 and older in July.

“Based on the sample, there is a 95 percent confidence that the margin of sampling error is within ± 2.7 percentage points,” Stasis said.

Iran’s economic situation has drastically deteriorated since former President Donald Trump abandoned the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran (JCPOA) and imposed crippling sanctions. But since the election of ultra-conservative Ebrahim Raisi as president in 2021, lifestyle pressures have also increased, with harsher enforcement of Islamic rules.

Seventy-seven percent of those surveyed responded affirmatively when asked if“Iranian youth do not see prosperity in their future.” Only 20 percent disagreed with the statement.

Fifty-three percent of respondents said that “government officials restrict the liberties of Iranian youth by interfering in their lifestyle. This number is even worse among young people aged 18 to 29; sixty-four percent believe this statement to be true.”

Public defiance of forced hijab began in December 201, with a woman standing on a main street in Tehran and removing her headscarf

Since early June, the government has been cracking down on forced hijab violators, with enforcing tougher restrictions. Thousands have been stopped on the streets by ‘morality police’ and many have been detained and fined. Security forces arrested many women who took part in an anti-hijab civil disobedience action on July 12, when many women came to the streets with no headscarves.

Among the reasons why Iranians have left the country in recent years, the overall state of the economy is the main factor, according to the survey. The economy “was mentioned by fifty-seven percent of respondents, followed by political or religious freedom (twenty-six percent), and hope for a better life (twenty-five percent). Only five percent mentioned looking for higher education is the main reason for Iranians leaving the country.”

Fifty-five percent of respondents did not show confidence in President Raisi regarding issues that matter to young people. Only 35 percent believe that problems facing the youth are among Raisi’s priorities.

“Among young people aged 18 to 29, sixty-five percent say issues concerning young people are not Raisi’s priority. Only twenty-seven percent completely or somewhat agree. Moreover, most Iranians do not believe that President’s Raisi can boost economic opportunities for Iranian youth (fifty-nine percent),” Stasis reported.

The government and parliament dominated by hardliners loyal to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei have dragged out negotiation with the United States to revive the nuclear agreement for more than a year. Sanctions have stayed in place and the economic crisis has deepened.

Overall inflation stands at 54 percent and food prices have risen by more than 100 percent since Raisi took office last August, according to official figures.

Statis also concluded that “those who reside in urban centers and who hold a college degree are more likely to say that they would prefer to leave Iran than Iranians who live in rural communities and who do not hold college degrees. Forty-three percent of Iranians who have a college degree say they would prefer to live in a foreign country.”

Interestingly, Germany is the top choice (16%) for those who want to leave, followed closely by Canada (15%) and the United States (14%).

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