Are there any statistics (or at least reasonable estimates from research) on how many USA citizens emigrated to "socialist" countries?

I'm not looking for a precise #, an estimate of an order of magnitude if perfectly fine.

UPDATE Just to be clear - I was using the official definition of "emigration" (e.g. from Google):

the act of leaving one's own country to settle permanently in another

In other words, people who merely move to a country temporarily for a specific job (like B1B visas in US), are not included in this definition.

For the purposes of this question, "socialist" simply means countries whose government officially called their socioeconomic system "socialist", e.g. USSR, PRC, Venezuela post-Chavez, Cuba post-Castro, Eastern Europe while still in Warsaw block, etc...).

To avoid subjectivity, i'm happy to take "official Wiki list" - List of socialist States.

I'm open to answers covering any timeframes starting from 1917, but the emigration must be only during the time period when the state was actually socialist according to Wiki timeline, e.g. post-1993 Russia does not count.

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    There are a lot of countries on the list of socialist States, and you're asking about of a range of nearly 100 years. Would it be possible to narrow down that question? Perhaps only currently socialist States, or a short list of historical ones? Nov 9, 2016 at 3:42
  • @Thunderforge - Ideally, top 5/10 by emigration count. But I don't really know how to get that without getting every country's emigration count in the first place. I'm pretty sure that the count for Yemen or Syria is rather negligible.
    – user4012
    Nov 9, 2016 at 3:45
  • @Thunderforge - i'm looking for ready-made estimate from a holistic research, rather than an answer listing every country; ideally. E.g. census.gov/population/www/documentation/twps0010/twps0010.html for overall emigration
    – user4012
    Nov 9, 2016 at 3:50
  • Do countries where a Socialist party was elected to government at the time count? Most Western European countries have socialist parties that form governments from time to time. Nov 1, 2017 at 20:08
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    @RedGrittyBrick - problem is that party name may not rally reflect reality. Some "Socialist" parties are no more "Socialist" than "KPSS" was "Communist"; some are socialist but don't bring about socialism in their country. Actual features of economy and politics are what matters, not self-applied labels. I don't think any Western European countries officially declared their system "socialist" (as opposed to party)
    – user4012
    Nov 1, 2017 at 20:32

2 Answers 2


From Wikipedia on China:

According to the Sixth National Population Census conducted in 2010, there are 71,493 Americans residing in Mainland China, the second largest single group of foreign nationals behind Koreans in China.[4] Americans have been coming to China for job opportunities since 1994.[5] In the late 2000s and early 2010s, a growing number of Americans in their 20s and 30s headed to China for employment, lured by its faster-growing economy and lower jobless rate.[6] Many of them teach English, a service in demand from Chinese businesspeople and students and a growing number are arriving with skills and experience in computers, finance and other fields.

Just using the list you provide for socialist countries (4 total), I can't imagine any other country having more Americans than China because China has more work opportunity than the others. For instance, as of 1999 less than 5,000 Americans live in Cuba. But if we assume that all countries have the same number of immigrants that China does, that would mean that over 285,000 Americans live in 4 communist countries up to 2010.

Laos and Vietnam are much harder to find data on, but from looking around, neither country appear to have more Americans than China, especially for Laos.

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    Did all of them emigrate? Or are they just there for a job but plan to go back when the job is over?
    – user4012
    Apr 19, 2018 at 21:26
  • 1
    Also, an earlier part of the article implies taht a vast majority reside in Hong Kong, which is most certainly not in the spirit of the question (it may technically belong to China soveregnity wise, but it's a capitalist place, never mind under Brits when many of them came to K :)
    – user4012
    Apr 19, 2018 at 21:29
  • @user4012 You make two great points: (1) could be temporary and (2) many may be in capitalist Hong Kong. I'm being conservative in the estimate by stating it can't possibly be more than 285,000 which isn't much for the four countries. It probably isn't even above 100,000 up to the date of 2010. Apr 19, 2018 at 23:27
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    But China is not a socialist country, and hasn't been since the 1990s, even if they keep the name & trappings as a face-saving measure.
    – jamesqf
    Apr 19, 2018 at 23:46
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    @jamesqf - they say they are socialist. That's enough for me for the purpose of this question (and the question covers the full time since founding of PRC).
    – user4012
    Apr 20, 2018 at 0:59

According to the Wikipedia article about a book called "The Forsaken", thousands of Americans left the USA for the USSR in the early 1930s, expecting a better life. Some returned to the USA, but many were murdered by Stalin. The article doesn't say whether any remained and assimilated. There is also Robert Robinson, who took Soviet citizenship in 1937, was evacuated from Moscow during the German attack, and spent most of the postwar years trying to get out, which he finally did in 1974, eventually returning to the USA.

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