Wartime survey of Ukrainian society / seventh wave

February 2023
Should we expect a second wave of Ukrainian migration?

The research company Gradus Research completed the seventh wave of the survey on socio-political moods of Ukrainians during Russia's war against Ukraine and analyzed the dynamics of migration attitudes of Ukrainians from the first days of the full-scale invasion.

Almost half of those who left their permanent place of residence have already returned

Russia's war against Ukraine fundamentally or strongly changed the lives of the vast majority of the population — this is declared by 82% of respondents. And although 61% of Ukrainians remained at their permanent place of residence, others were forced to move to safer places. 82% of them migrated within Ukraine, while 18% moved abroad. The vast majority of migrants are residents of the eastern regions.

Almost half of the migrants were already able to return home: 40% of Ukrainians were forced to leave their permanent place of residence, of which 18% returned. This mostly applies to residents of the northern regions and Kyiv city.

The second great wave of migration: is it going to happen?

When asked about their intentions to move further if the situation worsens, the majority of Ukrainians (60%) answer that they plan to stay where they are now.

"In our research, we do not record an increase in the desire to change the current place of residence, even despite the difficult energy and security situation in Ukraine. If we should expect migration surges, they will be limited to the Ukraine territory" comments Evgeniya Bliznyuk, sociologist, CEO & Founder of Gradus Research.

Among those who still plan to move further from the epicenter of the hostilities in case of aggravation of situation, 21% of Ukrainians intend to move within the borders of Ukraine, and only 7% plan to go abroad (this indicator is the lowest for the entire period of measurements since the beginning of the war). However, the level of intentions to go abroad among residents of western regions is almost twice as high as the sample.

Are they planning to return or have they left forever?

A third of respondents (32%) who were forced to move abroad due to the war declare their intention to return to Ukraine at the first opportunity.

10% of external migrants tend to believe that they have left forever. The vast majority of them are natives of the Ukrainian western regions aged 25-34.

At the same time, almost half of the respondents (47%) are hesitant to answer, as they have not yet made a final decision. Their number has doubled compared to the previous wave of the survey (July 2022 — 24%).

It is also worth noting that the belief in the victory of Ukraine remains at a high level since the first days of the full-scale war: currently 87% of Ukrainians are absolutely or rather confident that Ukraine is capable of repelling the attack of the Russian Federation. And the citizens consider the military aid of Western countries and the power of the Armed Forces of Ukraine to be the main keys to Ukraine's victory.

Summing up, we note that migration shifts are currently stable. The difficult energy situation in the country and the constant threat of new missile attacks on Ukraine by Russia contribute to even greater uncertainty in the intentions of Ukrainians to return. However, the desire to return home at the first opportunity remains high. The probability of a new large wave of migration is low.

The full report "Migration and socio-political changes in Ukrainian society during the war" contains analytics on the following issues (by gender, age, region and type of settlement):

  • Changes in the lives of Ukrainians due to Russia's war against Ukraine
  • Migration: who is migrating, where they are migrating from, directions of movement and return since the beginning of the full-scale invasion
  • Migration intentions regarding directions of possible movement in case of aggravation of the situation
  • Intentions to return from abroad
  • Belief in the victory of Ukraine in the war and views on the keys to victory
  • Involvement in volunteering, defense activities, helping the front and society
  • Vision of the future of Ukraine after the war
  • Emotional state and level of subjective stress
  • The language of communication in everyday life before the full-scale invasion and now

The survey was conducted by the research company Gradus Research using the method of self-filling the questionnaire in the mobile application. The Gradus online panel displays the population structure of cities with more than 50,000 residents aged 18-60 by gender, age, settlement size and region. Survey period: December 27-30, 2022, sample size: 1140 respondents.

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