To find out what Malaysians felt was important in their decision whether to return home or not, I did linear regression analysis on the survey data collected.

Here are the main findings of the survey:

*  Of all the factors surveyed, only three had a statistically significant correlation to a respondent’s decision whether to come home or not: perception of whether returnees can make a difference, job prospects, and moral duty towards the country.All three of these factors have a >90% certainty of statistical significance, but only explain about 13% of the variance in the results (meaning 87% of the decision of respondents whether to return to Malaysia or not is due to other unknown factors). Some of these factors will be covered in the comments section.

* For another regression, I set expectations for Malaysia’s future as the dependent factor to find out what influences Malaysian’s expectations of their future. To my surprise, the 16 factors I plugged in as independent factors (see table on Future tab) accounted for 63% of all the variation in how Malaysians view the future of this country, which is a very strong connection. I found that both experiences based on personal attributes (gender, ethnicity, family ties) as well as general perceptions of how the nation is progressing (economy, politics, education) play into one’s decision whether to return home.

In my survey, men and Chinese in general rated Malaysia’s future less optimistically. Respondents who said family was important in their decision to return home, as well as those who believed that returnees would make a difference to the country, tended to rate the future more optimistically. Higher ratings on the economy and education has 100% correspondence with a more optimistic view of Malaysia’s future. High ratings on the political situation, safety, human rights and inter-racial harmony also had a very high corresponded to higher ratings for the future (97-99% statistical significance).

* When I set “making a difference” as the dependent factor, I found that the higher a respondent rated the political situation, education, moral duty, future of the country and family, the more likely he or she was to believe that returnees could make a difference to the country. While the political situation and education are important practical factors, it was evident that moral and familial concerns also played a role in their decision. The more important job prospects were to the respondent, the less they believed that returnees could make a difference. Also, younger respondents tended to be more idealistic.

More tables can be found in the appendix.

6 Responses to Findings

  1. Xenobio says:

    What you found about the idea of “making a difference” is interesting. I studied overseas, and asked my uncle who also studied overseas when he was young, whether it was naive to think that my generation can come back and change things. Surprisingly he said no, because you have seen how things can be different and better, whereas people who lived in Malaysia their whole lives may not have a good picture of how or why society can change.

  2. vickeerj says:

    call me an idealist, but i think malaysia is capable of change. Eventhough the bickering about race and rights will continue for years, at least some young malaysians (i.e. Those in your survey) will at least give it a try before deciding to leave altogether. Thanks for this survey, great job. It was a real eye opener. I was suprised to read that moral duty ranked as one of the reasons for returning. This means at least, a decent prognosis for the future.

  3. nana says:

    Is it good of you to produce some statitical analysis for decision for returning home or not. In my opinion, u are not using the correct data analysis approach. Your dependent variable which is Returning home or not is a NOMINAL CATEGORY. Hence, using linear regression violates the assumption. You should use LOGISTICS REGRESSION!!. You may even just use Chi-Square test to see the association between each independent variables and dependent variable…

  4. Pingback: Coming Home | Sybreon Ones Nought

  5. just another girl says:

    Hi Evelyn,

    Interesting research!! Just for fun or out of curiosity, did you check for confounds/colinearity in your independent variables (covariates)? Looks like things like “harmony” and “crime rate” might be correlated and not quite independent (as seen in your histograms, I might be wrong).

    Anyway, are you still in the states or did you choose to return? Did you follow up to see what did those who took your survey eventually decided to do? It’d be nice to know 🙂


    • evelynswwong says:

      Hi Carolyn,

      I did check for collinearity in the variables, and that is part of the reason why most of the variables are not significant. At the time, I did not think about testing if they were jointly significant, but considering that overall the R2 is so low, it probably wouldn’t have made a huge difference.

      I am still in the US, in the final semester of my undergraduate degree…and will be working in the US for another few years at least. I have not followed up on those who did do my survey – it would be somewhat difficult since I did not require any contact information, but that would be an interesting survey! After some consideration, I have decided that I am willing to offer anonymized data to researchers who are interested in doing more analysis on the data set that I have. Let me know if you or anyone you know is interested.


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