100 000 people in total will keep emigrating from Latvia for yet another three to four years, says Michael Hazan, winner of this year’s economics prize Spīdola.
According to a study carried out in early 2011, 9% (120 000 people) of all the population aged 18-65 were about to leave the country. 17% of the respondents (about 220 000) said they could emigrate.
Assuming that a half of the first group indeed leaves Latvia together with one fifth part of the second group, it already totals 100 000 people. Therefore, massive emigration will still be ongoing for the next three to four years.
“People will leave despite the economic recovery, because every third of those about to emigrate pointed out that they were planing to leave Latvia not because of economic considerations,” Hazan says.
Brain drain is becoming more and more topical in Latvia, because every third emigrant has the higher education degree. The proportion of such a trend is growing, accounting for over 20% before the crisis. Moreover, most often it was exactly students who pointed out that they would be ready to emigrate.
“We cannot replace these people even with immigrants. The period of the past five years will announce itself in 20 years when we find ourselves in a new demographic dip.”
Asked whether the emigration levels were also influenced by Germany opening its labour marker, Hazan says that no data is yet available, but unofficial data imply that the interest is large.
“Clearly, the market is attracting people, but still there will not be that massive outflow of workforce as in 2005 and 2006 when people emigrated to Ireland and Britain,” he adds.
According to the expert, more people leave Latvia than before the crisis. It is already the third year in a row with Latvia losing 40 000 people a year, while about 16 000 people emigrated from 2004 to 2008 yearly.
News portal BNN already reported, according to Hazan’s study “Who lives in Latvia?”, 170 thousand Latvian people have been registered in other countries. “However, it should be taken into account that neither population census, nor migration statistics will ever be absolutely complete. There are also two other aspects in Latvia which make it difficult to gather such statistics. Firstly, in Latvia, a lot of people who arrived here in the 80?s were not born here. Thus, for example, they will appear in Norway registers as born, let’s say, in Russia. If we look at citizenship, given that we have non-citizens as well, this figure will be incomplete. Not to mention the people who are not reflected in population statistics, which is a common thing among emigrants. So, a realistic assessment is increased from 170 to 200 thousand people. It is my assessment as an expert. I am certain that at least 200 thousand people have left Latvia.”