Emigrants are often considered a loss for their country of origin but they can also play an important role in fostering trade and economic development, notably through the skills and contacts they have acquired abroad. If they choose to return, their re-integration into the labour market and society will be facilitated by the fact that they speak the local language, have specific social capital and possess local qualifications that are readily recognised by employers.

Drawing on the human resources of emigrants, however, necessitates maintaining links with them and pursuing policies adapted to the specific needs of each expatriate community. This entails, as a prerequisite, being able to identify precisely where, when and why people have left and what their socio-demographic characteristics and skills are, as well as gaining a proper understanding of the dynamics of the phenomenon and the aspirations of emigrants.

Statistical systems in countries of origin are generally poorly equipped to undertake this monitoring exercise. It is therefore helpful, if not essential, to compile information directly from destination country data sources. This is particularly challenging because it requires collecting data, based on comparable definitions and concepts, from a large number of countries across which emigrants are scattered. The OECD Database on Immigrants in OECD Countries (DIOC), which pools census and survey data, makes it possible to identify individuals over time by place of birth as well as by education and labour market status. It is a powerful tool for use in undertaking this mapping exercise, especially when complemented by available national sources (e.g. consular data, specific surveys, analyses of social networks) and many other international data sources.

This series of country reviews entitled “Talent abroad” aims to provide an accurate, updated and dynamic picture of diasporas by individual countries of origin. On this basis, and by building on cumulated experiences regarding the movements of diasporas, it is possible to formulate public policy recommendations on how best to engage with emigrants and mobilise their skills to support economic development in their country of origin.

The fourth volume in this series focuses on Romania, which, in recent years, has experienced fast-moving and far-reaching economic development. In view of the massive level of emigration by the Romanian population in the 21st century, and the emergence of labour needs, the Romanian authorities are seeking to gain a better understanding of this pool of talent based abroad. To that end, this review was commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania.

The in-depth analysis of the Romanian diaspora presented in this OECD publication helps determine the economic potential of emigrants. How many emigrants are there, and where are they based? Are they of working age, and what is their level of education? What are the recent trends in terms of their number and socio-economic profile? What is their labour market presence in the host country and which occupations do they hold? What drives them to emigrate, and who are the ones who return? How do they contribute to the economic development of Romania?

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