The effects of migration on domestic development

Immigration as a mechanism for the replacement of workers and their skills is limited in Romania, especially due to low earnings. During 1991-2010, the yearly inflow of persons (by change of domicile) has been 1 602 persons in 1991, 11 907 in 1998, 8 606 in 2009 and 7 055 in 2010 (National Institute of Statistics, 2011), and - with the exception of 2001, 2007 and 2009 - net migration has been negative (Figure 6.2).

Figure 6.2. Net international migration, 1991-2010


Source: National Institute of Statistics, Statistical Yearbook, various years.

The geographical distribution of immigrants is skewed. The capital region, Bucharest- Ilfov, attracts over 40% of immigrants, followed by the North-East (13%). Immigrants come mainly from the Republic of Moldova (over 33%), Italy (14%), the United States (6.2%), France (5.7%), China (5.3%) and Turkey (4.5%) (2009 data).

Young adults aged 26-40 make up about 50% of both emigration and immigration flows. The majority of immigrants are male (60%) while the majority of emigrants are females (63%). People with higher education represent 27% of both emigration and immigration flows.

Another important feature of Romanian labour migration is the valuable impact on the economic and social status of the families left behind. Remittances directly fuelled business investments and consumption in Romania in the past decade. Foreign remittances peaked in 2008. Since then, however, due to the economic crisis, a declining trend has been observed.

The high level of remittances may point to the temporary character of Romanian emigration. According to World Bank data, in 2009 the value of remittances sent by Romanians working abroad amounted to about 3% of Romanian GDP and was one of the highest among EU8+ two countries. The sheer volume of remittances, however, led to lower levels of economic activity in the remaining population. Money sent back by Romanian migrant workers represented, in a way, a second form of “welfare” deeply affecting recipients’ willingness to work.

The last decade of migration in Romania triggered major social change. Traditionally immobile populations (mostly rural) suddenly benefited from the opportunities offered by labour migration with direct positive effects on the living standards of those back home (spouses, children, parents) as well as on individual adaptability.

Given the fact that Romanian migration is mainly based on family and community migration networks, an efficient match between skills and labour demand would be difficult to achieve through systems based on institutional actors.

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