Development of preventive migration state policy requires investigation of not only real but also prospective migration. This article provides the author’s methodological approach to the study of a population’s migration potential. The migration desires index (MDI), as one of the most important indicators of migration potential, was calculated for the unemployed urban population in Lviv, Ukraine, on the basis of the results of a monitoring sample survey (2013–2016, 2018). The MDI shows wave-like development dynamics. Generally, the share of “solid” migrants (persons who have firm plans to work abroad in the years ahead) grew from 14% in 2014 to 25% of the unemployed population in Lviv in 2018. Despite such a high level of migration desires, the respondents also showed a clear urge to be employed in Ukraine. Overall, the study results show that the improvement of employment opportunities in the national labor market and improvement of the wage system will contribute to a reduction of the level of migration potential and will thus slow the pace at which the working-age population is leaving. For those who still have a firm intention to go abroad, the state should provide an appropriate level of social and economic protection, primarily by establishing effective cooperation with countries that are most attractive for potential labor migrants. The author’s surveillance study shows that such countries are Germany, the USA, Canada, and Poland.
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