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Coping with Emigration in Baltic and East European Countries

image of Coping with Emigration in Baltic and East European Countries

The Baltic countries have experienced sustained emigration over the past decade, contributing to population decline and a loss of working-age population. The impact of this emigration is felt strongly in the labour market, the general economy and in social developments. How can countries deal with the impact of high levels of emigration? How to attract back emigrants? How best to benefit from the financial, social and human capital developed abroad? The Baltic countries are not alone in addressing these challenges, and this volume brings together the recent experience of Poland and Romania, as well as a wide range of OECD countries, in developing new policies to cope with emigration.

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Executive summary

The three Baltic countries, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, have seen constant net emigration over the past decade. Net emigration over the 2000s was equivalent to almost 6% of the population in Estonia, 9% in Latvia and 13% in Lithuania. While this served as a safety valve in a time of poor employment opportunities and led to high levels of remittances, the longer term implications appear less positive: smaller working-age population, loss of educated youth, and skills shortages. A substantial diaspora has formed abroad, and these countries are starting to develop policies for interacting with these recent emigrants, many of whom are not expected to return definitively, to allay the economic and social impact of their departure. Other European countries are facing similar circumstances, especially Poland and Romania; in Romania, population fell by 7% over the decade largely due to emigration. The negative demographic situation in these countries – low fertility and ageing populations – exacerbates the impact of emigration. The experience of OECD countries with longstanding diasporas points the way to some innovative responses, if not to large-scale return.

English

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