Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The other side of migration

New staff discussion note from IMF on the impact of eastern European migration on the source countries; useful given all the recent focus on destination --

The scale of CESEE (Central Europe, Southeastern Europe) emigration over the past quarter century has been unusually large and, in many ways, unique. CESEE countries have witnessed a large and persistent exodus of economic migrants, mainly to Western Europe. In some ways this phenomenon is similar to that observed elsewhere in the world—migrants move in response to income differences between home and host countries; when migrants move abroad, they improve their own well-being, and the remittances they send home benefit their families. The host countries, which face population aging pressures themselves, get a much needed boost to their workforce. But in other ways CESEE emigration has been unique. Moving distances are short, and visa-free access for EU citizens means that international borders do not deter movement as they do elsewhere. Many CESEE emigrants are skilled and young, thus their exit reduces the productive labor force in sending countries at a time when many of these countries are already experiencing adverse demographic pressures. Emigration has thus been large—in fact the largest in the world in modern times as a share of sending country population. Furthermore, it has been persistent and return migration has likely been limited.

In pointing to the huge size of the flows, it's a useful reminder that it would be surprising if such large flows did not have political effects.

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