Press release: Young migrants from new EU member states: Why they want to leave, and do they want to come back?

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Press release: Young migrants from new EU member states: Why they want to leave, and do they want to come back?

Published on April 9, 2014

Young singles and young fathers in new member states are especially inclined to leave their homelands, but they also intend to come back sooner than other people, according to a new study published by the Central European Labour Studies Institute (CELSI).


The study by Martin Kahanec and Brian Fabo of CELSI,recently published in Transfer: The European Review of Labor and Research, found that people generally become less inclined to migrate as they get older, and that young singles and young men with children were those more likely to migrate – but also those most inclined to return sooner.

Those with at least upper secondary education usually intended to migrate for longer periods, but were less likely to want to migrate permanently.

People who are discontented with the political situation in their home countries were more inclined to migrate on a long-term or permanent basis.

The study found that migrants from the Central and Eastern European EU member states often have fairly strong ties to their home countries, such as family, property and a sense of loyalty, that make them reluctant to leave permanently.

“Temporary migration is a litmus test of the social and economic differences between “new” and “old” EU member states, and is seen by migrants as an opportunity to improve living standards for themselves and their families,” explains Martin Kahanec, scientific director at CELSI.

The intentions to migrate differ among the new member states quite significantly. In Slovakia and the Czech Republic relatively low numbers of people want to work abroad (30.9% in Slovakia and only 16.8% in the Czech Republic) and of those who do only a small fraction plan to stay abroad for more than five years (15.6% in the Czech Republic but only 8.3% in Slovakia).

This contrasts with Lithuania, where 65% of respondents want to work abroad and a large fraction of them, 21.7%, for long-term period.

Although Latvia and Estonia also belong to countries with a high share of people who envisage to work abroad (47.5 and 48.7%, respectively), the share of respondents who want to stay abroad for more than five years is below the average observed in new member states (14.3% in Estonia and 17.7% in Latvia).

Respondents in Hungary, Poland, and Slovenia report moderate inclination to migrate (36.4, 34.0, 30.9%, respectively), and their preference for long-term stay is close to the average observed across the new member states (18.8, 16.3, 22.7%, respectively).

Interestingly, Bulgaria and Romania exhibit the lowest inclination to migrate among the new member states (22.7 and 24.2%, respectively), second and third to only the Czech Republic, but the fraction of those who want to stay abroad for more than five years is above the average in Bulgaria (21.2%) and the highest among the new member states in Romania (31.8%).

Good social, economic and political situation in destination countries was found to be a significant “pull” factor for all migrants.

However, the study found that the perceived generosity of social welfare and healthcare systems in receiving countries has no significant effect on the choices of temporary migrants, and relatively little effect on the choices of permanent migrants.

Martin Kahanec, Scientific Director at CELSI said: “The loyalty of migrants from the new member states to return to their homelandis an asset that needs to be nurtured by good policy making. While the mobility of workers and students is most desirable, sending countries should implement policies that will motivate migrants to return at some point with additional human capital, business and trade relationships, or entrepreneurial skills. This includes capacity-building regarding re-integration of returnees into social security and health systems, and the labor market in particular.”

Sources: “Migration strategies of the crisis-stricken youth in an enlarged European Union” by Martin Kahanec and Brian Fabo.“

Read our press release in PDF here


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