Despite short-term labour losses, emigration can be leveraged for positive outcomes in Georgia
Migration provides countries with long-term benefits stemming from both remittances and return migration (discussed further below). Emigration itself can also benefit the country by relieving a congested labour market, providing opportunities for women to increase their economic independence and generating incentives to upgrade skills. However, realising these positive impacts depends on the right conditions being in place.
Where labour markets are congested, such as those in Georgia (World Bank, 2013), the emigration of workers can open up job opportunities for the unemployed or underemployed. For instance, the IPPMD data show that households with emigrants are likely to use less household labour for farming; instead 18% of emigrant households in Georgia hired in farm labour, compared to 14% of non-migrant households.4 This suggests that rather than prompting households to draw more on household labour, emigration may be revitalising the agricultural labour market and reducing underemployment in that sector. Men remaining in emigrant households in Georgia tend to work less and are more likely to be unemployed than men in households without an emigrant, also suggesting that the jobs previously done by the emigrant are not necessarily taken on by others in the household.5
In many cases households lack the tools to overcome the negative shortterm effects associated with the departure of one or several members of the household. For instance, losing household labour to emigration can have a significant impact on the remaining household members, especially as migrants are often in the most productive years of their lives. Emigrants in the Georgia IPPMD dataset left on average between the ages of 35 and 37, and are usually the youngest adults in their household; the current average age of emigrants from Georgia according to the IPPMD data is 42, while the average age of non-migrant adult household members is 47 (OECD, 2017).
under the right conditions, emigration can also create opportunities for women. When men emigrate, women often take on greater household financial and managerial responsibilities (Bauer et al., 2012; DFID, 2007; Hughes, 2011). However, if women are barred access to financial markets or the right to hold land, emigration by the male members of the household emigration can instead put women in a difficult situation. In Georgia, 39% of emigrant households are headed by women, compared to only 33% of non-emigrant households.6 The adult male-to-female ratio in emigrant households is also lower than in non-migrant households (0.79 vs. 0.85).7
According to the OECD's Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI),8 there is room for improvement with respect to conditions for women. While they are on equal footing with men de jure, de facto conditions are a different story and social institutions in Georgia have a strong influence on attitudes towards land ownership. In fact, as land is usually registered solely in the husband's name, women often have little involvement in economic decision making, and many women lack information about their rights under civil law.9 In terms of credit and bank loans, women find it very difficult to access credit in rural area in Georgia. This is because microfinance institutions require a collateral for security, such as immovable property (uSAID, 2010; uSAID, n.d.). In fact, men are usually the owners of residences or household farms in Georgia (uN Women, 2013).
Much of the impact on the home country labour and education sectors depends on the types of people emigrating. According to the survey in Georgia, more than 80% of emigrants left to seek work. Prior to leaving, emigrants also typically had jobs in the health sector and other skilled occupations in the home country, leaving potential shortages in these fields (Figure 1.4). Highly educated Georgian individuals are also more likely to have emigrated, or to plan to emigrate in the future (Figure 1.5). This has implications for the education sector, which is losing the skills is has helped build in the country.
Figure 1.4. The health sector and highly skilled occupations lose most workers
Note: The skills level of occupations has been categorised using the International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO) provided by the International Labour Organization (ILO, 2012). Skills level 1: occupations which involve simple and routine physical or manual tasks (includes elementary occupations and some armed forces occupations). Skills level 2: clerical support workers; services and sales workers; skilled agricultural, forestry and fishery workers; craft and related trade workers; plan and machine operators and assemblers. Skills level 3: technicians and associate professionals and hospitality, retail and other services managers. Skills level 4: Other types of managers and professionals.
Source: Authors’ own work based on IPPMD data.
This finding is not entirely negative however. Highly educated individuals with the intention to emigrate do not always manage to do so. Moreover, the successful emigration of highly skilled individuals may persuade more people to acquire skills and formal education than would have been the case otherwise, partly mitigating the loss of human capital (Helmenstein et al., 1997, 1998; Mountford, 1997; and Stark and Wang, 2002). This dynamic goes beyond formal education. The share of individuals who speak a foreign language (mostly English10) is higher amongst those who plan to emigrate (48%) than those who do not (20%).
Figure 1.5. Well-educated individuals are more likely to plan to emigrate
Share of adults (20 years and above) planning to emigrate (%), by gender and education level
Note: The figure displays intentions to emigrate on the part of adults aged 20 years and over.11 Lower secondary education includes basic education, and upper secondary education includes general secondary education (grade 10-12) in the Georgian education system.
Source: Authors’ own work based on IPPMD data.