Intentions to emigrate

This section explores emigration intentions of Latvian residents aged 18-65 in the period between December 2010 and February 2011, after more than two years of recession, accompanied by a powerful wave of emigration. The results, based on two surveys, are broken down by respondents’ level of education, main occupation (status), ethnicity, citizenship, region, type of settlement and a background of migration.

The NIPCM survey asks whether the respondent plans to move from Latvia in the near future in order to improve material well-being for themselves or their families.

Those who answered “Yes” or “I do not exclude such a possibility” are categorised as potential emigrants; the former group is further referred to as having concrete plans.

To analyse reasons for emigration, we used the “DnB NORD Latvian Barometer survey No. 35” conducted in February 2011 (DnB NORD), which sampled from the same reference group (Latvian residents aged 18-75) as the NIPCM survey. The DnB NORD survey asked “Do you plan to live and work abroad?”, followed, in the case of a positive answer, by a multiple choice question in which the respondent was asked to specify one or more reasons from a given list. We divided potential emigrants into two categories. The first one includes those who mention one of the following economic reasons (no jobs available in Latvia; no possibility to earn a living in Latvia; elsewhere one can earn much more; better social protection abroad), possibly together with one or more other (non-economic) reasons. The second category includes those who did not mention any of the economic reasons, but plan emigration only for non-economic reasons - namely, one or more of the following: an opportunity to see the world, to get new impressions, to meet new friends; education and career possibilities; no future in Latvia; does not like what is going on in Latvia; does not like the political environment; wants to live in a stable country; influence of other people.

Overall, in December 2010-January 2011, 9% of the population aged 18 to 65 planned to leave Latvia in the near future to improve their material well-being and another 17% did not exclude such a possibility. Potential emigrants (both groups) thus constituted 26% of the population. In February 2011, in the framework of the DnB NORD survey, 20% of respondents reported plans to emigrate for economic reasons, and another 10% only for non-economic reasons, thus raising the proportion of potential movers to about 30% (note however, that in this case, plans do not necessarily refer to the near future and are not restricted to emigration for economic reasons).

According to the NIPCM survey, the highest propensity to emigrate in the near future is found among those with a secondary education: 28% of them are potential movers, including 10% with concrete plans. The other two groups are not far behind, however: 25% of those with less than secondary education and 22% of the tertiary-educated are potential emigrants, in both cases including 7% with concrete plans (Figure 4.13, top).

Larger differences are observed with respect to reasons for emigration (Figure 4.13, bottom). The proportion of those who plan to move abroad for economic (and possibly other) reasons decreases with educational attainment: from 29% among respondents with a basic education to 13% among university graduates. By contrast, the proportion of those who plan emigration only for non-economic reasons increases from 8% among respondents with less than secondary education to 14% among respondents with tertiary education.

From an occupational perspective, the highest propensity to emigrate in the near future is found among students: more than half of them are potential emigrants, including 18% with concrete plans (Figure 4.13, top). A lower, yet significant propensity to emigrate is found among the unemployed, manual workers and non-manual workers, with between 23% and 30% potential emigrants, including 7% to 12% with concrete plans (Figure 4.13, top). On average, one-third of potential movers mention only non-economic reasons for emigration. The only occupational group in which most potential movers do not mention any economic reasons for their plans, is that of non-manual workers (Figure 4.13, bottom).

Figure 4.13. Intentions to emigrate among Latvian residents aged 18-65, by educational attainment and main occupation, December 2010 to February 2011

Do you plan to live and work abroad?

Source: Author’s calculations based on survey data: top - “DnB NORD Latvian Barometer”, No. 35; bottom -NIPCM.

Noteworthy is the very high propensity to emigrate (37% overall, including almost 9% with concrete plans) among persons who did not complete their higher education and who are not students (this result is not shown in Figure 4.13).

The unemployed are more often inclined to leave Latvia due to economic, or a combination of economic and non-economic reasons (this is the case for 35% of all jobseekers), than for non-economic reasons alone (8%). A similar situation is found among manual workers (20% and 7%, respectively). Among non-manual workers, on the other hand, 15% plan to leave Latvia only for non-economic reasons, while 12% mention economic reasons. Interestingly, total emigration potential is equally large (27%) among both manual and non-manual workers (Figure 4.13, bottom).

In order to gain a more in-depth understanding of the motivations and concreteness of intentions to emigrate in various population groups, we used an econometric model, which evaluates the impact on the individual’s emigration plans, of each of the following variables: gender, age, family status, educational attainment, ethnicity and citizenship, main occupation, region and degree of urbanisation, while holding all other variables constant. The main results of this analysis - presented as the mathematical difference, in percentage points, between the adjusted proportion of potential emigrants in each category and that in the reference category - are summarised in Table 4.8.

Other things being equal, females and males without under-age children do not differ much in terms of propensity to emigrate, although the probability of an emigration plan in the near future is 2.6 percentage points higher for a female than for an otherwise similar male. By contrast, when a woman with children is compared to an otherwise similar man with children, the probability for the woman to plan emigration in the near future or in general is 5.5 to 6 percentage points lower, and her probability to plan emigration for economic reasons 9 percentage points lower, while probability to plan emigration due to non-economic reasons alone is 3 percentage points higher.14

The presence of children in the family significantly increases males’ propensity to emigrate due to economic reasons, while for females this effect is negative with respect to plans for the near future but is not significant with respect to emigration in general or due only to non-economic reasons (note that for females, the effect of the presence of children in each of the five columns of Table 4.8 can be obtained by summing the rows “Lives with children” and “Female with children”). This supports hypothesis (H3)-(d) namely, that since the onset of the economic crisis, potential emigrants are oriented towards longterm or permanent emigration and tend to move as entire families.

While intentions to emigrate vary significantly by age group, it is worth noting that the 25-34 year-olds have practically as strong a propensity to emigrate as those aged 18 to 24. For both groups, the probability of a plan to emigrate in the near future is 23 percentage points higher than for 55-65 year-olds, the probability of a more general plan to emigrate (without specifying the time) 30 to 35 percentage points higher, and the probability of a plan to emigrate due to economic reasons 26 to 34 percentage points higher. For population aged 35 to 44 years, all the above probabilities are 6 to 11 percentage points lower than for the 25-34 year-olds, but for those aged 45-54 years, another 6 to 10 percentage points lower. When the average probability for each model is taken into account (see row “Proportion of positive answers” in Table 4.8), it appears that the strongest age effects, which exceed the average prevalence of emigration plans by a factor of two-and-a-half, are related to concrete plans to move abroad in the near future.

It is worth noting, that the highest propensity to emigrate due to non-economic reasons alone, is found in 25-44 year-olds.

When other factors are controlled for, the difference between persons with secondary and tertiary education with respect to propensity to emigrate becomes insignificant, with the exception of emigration due only to non-economic reasons. In the latter case, university graduates feature a 4.3 percentage points higher probability of contemplating emigration. These findings once again support our hypothesis (H3)-(e) regarding a significant increase in the proportion of individuals with higher education among emigrants during the crisis. On the other hand, for a person whose education is below secondary, the probability of a plan for [economic] emigration in the near future is 6 to 7 percentage points lower than for an otherwise similar person having completed secondary education. This is despite the fact that people of low educational attainment suffered more than others from recession-related lay-offs (see Table 4.5).

Mathematical difference between proportions of potential emigrants as compared to reference category, in percentage points

Table 4.8. Impact of demographic and occupational factors on emigration plans, population aged 18-65,

December 2010-February 20111

Do you plan to move from Latvia in the near future to improve your/family material well-being?

Do you plan to live and work abroad?

Yes

Yes or do not exclude

Yes

Yes

Yes

for any reason

for economic (and possibly also other) reasons

for non-economic reasons alone

Proportion of positive answers

9%

26%

31%

20%

10%

Factors1,2

Gender and family

Male without children Female

Married or lives with a partner Lives with children Female with children

Ref.

  • 2.6**
  • 1.3
  • 3.6**
  • -8.1***

Ref.

  • -3
  • -7.0***
  • 8.0***
  • -6.4*

Ref.

  • -1.2
  • -2.6
  • 4.6
  • -5.1*

Ref.

  • 0.7
  • -0.7
  • 7.8***
  • -9.6***

Ref.

  • -1.5
  • -2.9
  • -3.6
  • 4.9**

Age

  • 18-24
  • 25-34
  • 35-44
  • 45-54
  • 55-65
  • 22.9***
  • 23.0***
  • 17.0***
  • 11.4***

Ref.

  • 33.0***
  • 32.4***
  • 20.9***
  • 14.1***

Ref.

  • 34.5***
  • 30.4***
  • 22.8***
  • 13.2***

Ref.

  • 33.4***
  • 25.6***
  • 19.2***
  • 13.2***

Ref.

  • 2.2
  • 8.0**
  • 6.3**
  • 2.6

Ref.

Education

Below secondary

Secondary

Tertiary

-6.0***

Ref.

-2.7

Ref.

-2.5

-3.4

Ref.

2.3

-1.9

Ref.

-3

-1.9

Ref.

4.3***

Ethnicity & citizenship

Latvian

Non-Latvian, Latvia citizen Non-Latvian, non-citizen

Ref.

  • -2
  • 2.6*

Ref.

2.4

Ref.

  • 7.4***
  • 0.9

Ref.

  • 8.3***
  • 6.7**

Ref.

  • -0.5
  • -6.4***

Main occupation

Wage earners Unemployed Student Other

Ref.

  • 4.8***
  • 1.7
  • 1.1

Ref.

  • 6.0**
  • 6.8
  • -10.7***

Ref.

  • 14.9***
  • 19.4***
  • 1.4

Ref.

  • 14.3***
  • 6.3
  • 2

Ref.

  • -1.1
  • 11.1***
  • -0.8

Monthly household income per capita, LVL

Up to 80 81-120 121-160 161-200 >200

Unspecified

  • 5.4**
  • 4.3**

Ref.

  • 3.3
  • 1.3 4.3*
  • -1.9
  • 1.8

Ref.

  • 1.8
  • -3.3
  • -0.3
  • -2.3
  • 1.5

Ref.

  • -1.1
  • -4.4
  • 0.5
  • -5.1*
  • -4.5

Ref.

  • -8.8***
  • -7.8**
  • -9.3***
  • 3.2
  • 8.0***

Ref.

  • 9.3***
  • 5.2**
  • 11.2***

Other controls (region and urbanisation level)

5 regions and 3 urbanisation levels (indicator variables)

Number of observations

869

869

868

868

868

Note: *, **, *** - estimates significantly different from zero at the 10%, 5%, 1% levels, respectively.

1. Factors and reference categories are given in bold. Cells report the mathematical difference, in percentage points, between the adjusted proportion of potential emigrants in each category and that in the reference category.

Source: Author’s calculations based on survey data: the first two columns are based on “DnB NORD Latvian Barometer”, No. 35; the last three columns, on the NIPCM 2010 survey.

After controlling for the above variables, Non-Latvians with Latvian citizenship are 7 to 8 percentage points more likely than ethnic Latvians, to plan or consider moving abroad (“in the near future”, “in general” and “for economic reasons”). On the other hand, non-Latvians without Latvian citizenship are not significantly different from ethnic Latvians with respect to the first two of the above-mentioned probabilities (i.e., “in the near future” and “overall”). The probability of planning emigration due to economic reasons among non-citizens, however, is 7 percentage points higher than among ethnic Latvians. This, in turn, is partly offset by a 6 percentage points lower probability of planning emigration due to non-economic reasons alone. Finally, among non-Latvians with Latvian citizenship the propensity to move abroad due to non-economic reasons alone is the same as among ethnic Latvians.

While findings reported in the previous paragraph suggest that non-citizens are less inclined to emigrate than non-Latvians with Latvian citizenship, results from the first column of Table 4.8 are slightly different: holding other variables constant, the probability of planning economic emigration in the near future for non-citizens is, on average, 2.5 percentage points higher than for Latvians and 4.5 percentage points higher than for minority citizens. In all likelihood, this is attributable to the difficult labour market situation of non-citizens (see Table 4.5). Overall, the results of the econometric analysis support hypothesis (H3)-(g) above, regarding changes in the role of ethnicity after the onset of the economic crisis: the propensity to emigrate among minority individuals - especially among those holding Latvian citizenship - appears to be higher than among Latvians. Official data on ethnic composition of emigrants in 2011-12 (Statistics Latvia, 2013a) also support this conclusion: estimated proportion of ethnic Latvians among emigrants is below 50%, while their share in general population is about 61%.

As can be expected, the unemployed are much more likely than the employed, to plan emigration (“in the near future”, “in general”, “for economic reasons”).The impressive size of this effect is demonstrated by the fact that the difference in probabilities between the unemployed and employed (respectively, 5, 15 and 14 percentage points), is very large relative to the average proportion of potential emigrants of the given kind (respectively, 9%, 31% and 20%) in population aged 18-65. If those who do not exclude the possibility of moving abroad in the near future are also considered potential emigrants (along with those having specific plans), then the likelihood to belong to this group for an unemployed person is 6 percentage points higher than for an employed person. By contrast, with respect to plans to move abroad only for non-economic reasons, an unemployed person does not differ significantly from an employed individual.

Finally, students are much more oriented towards emigration for non-economic reasons alone, than those whose main activity is work: the difference in probabilities is 11 percentage points, which is a very large effect given that overall just 10% of population falls into this category.

Results reported so far refer to early 2011. Figure 4.14 provides evidence from a more recent (August 2012) survey, in which respondents were asked to choose from a list (or to suggest) three main reasons that would cause them to reject an offer to live and work outside Latvia for a long time.

According to this survey, 4% of respondents aged 18-64 are “determined movers” - people who, while ready to move under certain conditions, could not think of a reason which would stop them.

In the same survey, respondents were asked about the main conditions that would need to be met for them to accept an offer to live and work outside Latvia for a long time. Figure 4.15 ranks the most frequent answers. Higher income, better living conditions and (notably) better social policies in the potential country of destination lead the list. Just one out of eight respondents mentioned warranted possibility to return as a precondition.

Figure 4.14. Main reasons to reject an offer to live and work outside of Latvia for a long time

Proportions of population aged 18-64 who chose each answer

Source: Author’s calculations based on data from the “DnB NORD Latvian Barometer”, No. 51 (August 2012).

Only 22% of respondents are “determined non-migrants” -under no conditions would they move abroad.

Questions similar to those reported in Figures 4.14 and 4.15 were asked in another survey conducted by the same agency early in 2010. Figure 4.16 compares the results regarding determined non-migrants (as defined above) and potential emigrants - those who would accept an offer to work and live abroad, at least under certain conditions.15 The lists of conditions differed somewhat across years, but in both surveys there was an open-ended option to list “Other conditions”. Thus, the results are comparable (although not perfectly).

In two and a half years, the share of potential emigrants increased from 54% to 68% at the expense of the proportion of determined non-migrants, while the share of the undecided remained at 10%. This suggests that emigration potential has increased - despite the intensive emigration that took place in the period between the two surveys (see Table 4.4), restored economic growth (5.7% in the first three quarters of 2012 vs. - 2.4% in the same period of 2010) and declining (yet high) unemployment (14.2% in the third quarter of 2012 vs. 20.5% in the first quarter of 2010, seasonally adjusted).

Figure 4.15. Main reasons to accept an offer to live and work outside of Latvia for a long time

Proportions of population aged 18-64 who chose each answer

Note: The five least popular answers are not shown.

Source: Author’s calculations based on data from the “DnB NORD Latvian Barometer”, No. 51 (August 2012).

Figure 4.16. Determined stayers and potential emigrants in population aged 18-64

August 2012 vs. February 2010

Source: Author’s calculations based on data from the “DnB NORD Latvian Barometer”, No. 22 and No. 51.

This result is consistent with the increasing importance of non-economic reasons for emigration, or reasons that are economic in nature but rooted in the past rather than linked to current economic trends, such as credit liabilities. Indeed, Krisjane et al. (2012), based on a survey among users of a Latvian social network residing outside of Latvia, found that debt repayment was the most popular main reason for emigration (22% of respondents), followed by uncertainty about one’s future (19%), difficulties in finding a job (17%) and insufficient career prospects (15%).

 
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