Labour market status and occupation

A striking feature of the emigrants’ situation in the host countries’ labour markets is an extremely high employment rate: at least 87% among those who left Latvia in 2004-08 and at least 84% among crisis-period emigrants.12 For the sake of comparison, only 54% of non-migrants aged 18-74 were employed in March of 2011, while the age-adjusted rate of employment for non-migrants was 61%. Unfortunately, the rate of employment among emigrants who left Latvia before 2004 could not be calculated with any degree of certainty due to the high percentage of missing values (43%), but it is surely higher than among non-migrants. Note that return migrants in Latvia also feature a higher employment rate (about 66%) than stayers. On the other hand, they also feature a higher unemployment rate, but this might be because they can afford to search longer due to savings from earnings abroad (Hazans, 2008).

The proportion of self-employed and entrepreneurs among crisis-period emigrants doubled in comparison with the previous period, confirming hypothesis (H3)-(f).

Even under the most radical (and unlikely) assumption that all emigrants with an “unknown” employment status were in fact unemployed, emigrants of the last two waves feature a much lower unemployment level than the one observed in Latvia during the crisis. To sum up, emigrants’ labour market outcomes are significantly better than those of non-migrants.

Figure 4.9 provides a more detailed breakdown of Latvian emigrants’ main activities abroad (by education, destination country and period of departure from Latvia). On average, only 26% of emigrants held a paid job in which they used their qualifications (education). This proportion is higher (and the incidence of brain waste smaller) in continental EU15 countries, where it reaches 36%, than in other countries of destination.

The lowest rate (19%) is found among emigrants living in Ireland and in countries outside Old Europe (United States, Canada, the Russian Federation, Ukraine, etc.). Tertiary- educated emigrants are more likely to use their qualification than those with a secondary education or less. Those who emigrated during the crisis were less choosy with respect to their job abroad: only 23% of them use their qualification, whereas this is the case for 29% of emigrants who left Latvia during the previous two waves of migration (the difference is statistically significant).

Figure 4.9. Emigrants’ main activity abroad at the end of 2010, by educational attainment, destination and period of departure from Latvia


Note: “Continental Europe” refers to the EU15 (without the United Kingdom and Ireland), Norway and Switzerland. Source: Author’s calculations based on data from NIPCM.

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