About half of Icelandic primary school kids polled say they intend to leave the country when they grow up.
The findings are a part of research conducted by the University of Akureyri, Akureyri víkublað reports, and shows a dramatic shift in attitudes amongst young people in Iceland in the 10th grade (about 16 years old).
As early as 2003, 53% of young people wanted to live in the greater Reykjavík area, while only 36% sought to live abroad. The desire to live in the capital decreased and the desire to live abroad increased from that point to where today, the reverse of 2003 is now the case: 53% of Icelandic 10th graders want to live overseas, and only 36% want to live in Reykjavík.
Nonetheless, professor of sociology at the University of Akureyri Þóroddur Bjarnason cautions that the data must be viewed contextually.
“The answers of 16-year-olds are of course not the most reliable indicator of their future choices,” he told reporters. “Some decide not to move in the end, while others do move who had no intention to do so. On the other hand, Icelandic research has shown that the residential plans of young people can be a fairly useful predictor of the development of particular communities in the long term.”