A social researcher in Iran says the significant increase in emigration among young professionals in 2023 is due to their loss of hope in the prospects of government change and reforms.

“The 140% increase in the migration of young professionals in the past year … can be seen as an exit strategy resulting from loss of hope in [voluntary] change and reform in the government,” Fatemeh Mousavi, sociologist and social researcher, told Khabar Online news website in an interview Tuesday.

It appears that for many Iranians from diverse backgrounds, hope in the prospects of positive change in the country have been lost – especially for the younger generation seeing emigration as the only path toward a more promising life.

A recent telephone poll conducted by US-based Statis Consulting reveals that nearly half of Iranian youth aspire to leave the country, driven by a prevailing sense of pessimism regarding their future in their homeland.

Sociologist Fatemeh Moosavi Viae

Saeid Moidfar, chairman of the Iranian Sociological Association, recently warned that Iran is on the brink of a significant wave of emigration. Iranians perceive a bleak future in the country, with worsening economic and social conditions, alongside escalating corruption and crime.

According to Mousavi, Iranians had been anticipating the government to initiate gradual reforms over the past twelve months in response to the protests of 2022-2023.

“It became clear that the government does not intend to reform its authoritarian attitude and has even hastened its enforcement from the beginning of the summer, when the approval of the Hijab and Chastity bill was proposed, until the end of the year when the previous process of extensive purification [of the political structure] and disqualification [of candidates], even for independent persons, continued. We saw the outcome in people's [refusal to] participate in the parliamentary elections,” she said.

Iran’s parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections saw a record low voter turnout this year.

“In the past year, not only women's demands were not met, but the political conflict over the mandatory hijab also increased … The political establishment continues to fine women for not wearing the hijab by confiscating cars and sealing businesses beyond legal premises. This is an exhausting battle that consumes the limited resources of the government in the police force, fuels social dissatisfaction, and has caused even some religious people and those who wear the chador (long black veil) to oppose the mandatory hijab,” Mousavi who says half of young professionals leaving the country are women told Khabar Online.

Experts have long been warning about the dire consequences of the emigration of skilled workforce, like medical professionals, but government officials have historically denied the importance of the matter or ignored the warnings.

Nevertheless, in February authorities said new measures had been taken to prevent the emigration of experts that involved the passport and immigration authority.

In a recent article, EcoIran, an economic news website, highlighted that workforce emigration is no longer limited to physical relocation. The rise of virtual citizenship and remote work, especially during and after the pandemic, has led to a significant increase in digital emigration among Iranians.

This shift, the article said, has led to the “migration of the activities of creative and expert workforce to international businesses”, the article said while warning that the growing desire to emigrate serves as an “alarm bell” that has been ringing for several years, yet remains largely unheeded.

The IMO, a research institute established during then-President Rouhani’s second term, at Sharif University of Technology, tracks data and generates analyses on emigration, with a particular focus on informing policymakers.

In its 2022 report, Iran Migration Observatory (IMO) stated that Iran ranked 17th among countries with the highest number of individuals seeking education abroad and 54th among those with the highest emigration rates.

More News