sábado, 30 de novembro de 2013

Emigration in Lithuania

After Lithuania joined the EU and free migration of people became legal, the extent of emigration rate in the country increased particularly. This resulted from the opportunity to migrate freely and obvious differences in economic conditions between the developed European countries and Lithuania. It is not difficult to understand the willingness of people to earn more money and live better, however this target cannot be absolute. The State has to create favorable conditions for its citizens to have appropriate income to live with dignity, to maintain their family in the country and not going abroad for this reason.
However, emigration especially increased during the 2008-2009 global economic crisis. In 2010, 83 thousand people left Lithuania, which was 4 times higher than the previous year. Based on evaluation of experts, during the 22 years of independence about 30% of population left Lithuania and that mainly concerned youth and qualified specialists. The shortage of jobs, low salary, disappointing opportunities of self-realisation and career, ineffective science and education system are the main reasons of emigration from Lithuania. The increasing scale of emigration creates dangerous demographic, economic and social consequences for Lithuania.
Decreasing population number can be emphasized as one of the essential problems of emigration. Intensive migration processes greatly influence changes of ethnic structure of the inhabitants. Possibility of de-nationalisation is often identified as a problem. As far as partial migration is concerned, where one or both parents go to work abroad and the family remains in Lithuania, the social capital of Lithuania, the family, is weakened. The conception of family as a value and the sense of family stability weakens.
Illegal migration also causes many problems. Two major categories of such problems
are the flow of illegal migrants to/through Lithuania and illegal migration of Lithuanians to other countries. When the extent of illegal migration is large, women’s trafficking tends to increase. On the other hand, women’s trafficking is encouraged by material deficiency, unemployment, flaws of the social support system and lack of knowledge about this problem. Unless the mindset of people about migration and economic conditions in the country changes, it is likely that women trafficking will remain a prevalent problem in Lithuania in the near future.
     One more major problem is the loss of young people. This fact may have very severe consequences in the near future because it will change the demographic structure of the society, i.e., only geriatric people will stay, birth rate and family development will diminish, also labour power will decrease and it will be necessary to compensate it by importing people from the Third World countries. While liberalisation processes of the international labour market are in progress, Lithuania encounters not only emigration but also a very relevant “brain drain” problem. This is about specialists of various fields that are unable to find work environment where they could self-actualise. Therefore, they leave the country and the Lithuanian intellectual capital diminishes, accordingly.
      General standard of living and resolution of socio-economic problems of the country depend particularly on the effective use of that the most productive part of the society. After creating a well-planned national strategy, educated Lithuanian scientists in the West could and should become one of the driving forces of restoring and developing the Lithuanian science.
     The reason of brain drain is not only the general economic lag of Lithuania. Brain drain is also encouraged by the flaws of the Lithuanian science and education systems, their severe and long-lasting problems. Analyses conducted by the World Bank show that Lithuania is among the countries with the least science production and innovations, even compared to Central and Eastern European countries. One of the most important factors leading to brain drain is the position of the Lithuanian Government towards education. Investments in education are ineffective. According to the data of Eurostat, financing of one student expressed in terms of purchasing power standards in Lithuania is 8 times lower than in Sweden, and 5 times lower than in Germany. According to this data, Lithuania leads against Latvia and Bulgaria, is relatively at the same level as Poland, and is lagging far behind from the Czech Republic and Estonia. Also, the financing condition of students is poor. However, in recent years, financing has increased. In this regard we are among the EU leaders. However, study quality depends on education level. Education financing in Lithuania increases very insignificantly.
     Considering this data, we can conclude that governmental financing is not sufficient and Lithuania has a flawed system of distributing money for studies. Another important factor leading to brain drain is low level of education and international acknowledgement. According to various researches, the best college/ university seniors are not satisfied with the quality of education of Lithuania.
      After summarising the problems of emigration (decrease in population, deformation of age structure, lack of labour power, possibility of de-nationalisation, consequences of social migration, especially for family, children, brain drain, human trafficking, illegal migration) encountered by Lithuania, it can be stated that the problem of emigration is associated with socio-economic situation in Lithuania and this problem should be solved at national level.
      Emigration is a serious problem in Lithuania; however, Lithuanian institutions do not pay too much attention to the issue. So far, Lithuania has no strategies or programmes implemented to reduce the amount of emigration and this problem in Lithuania has no adequate solution.

Agne Sipaviciute 

[artigo de opinião produzido no âmbito da unidade curricular “Economia Portuguesa e Europeia” do 3º ano do curso de Economia (1º ciclo) da EEG/UMinho] 

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