Munich Personal RePEc Archive

The Paradox of Large Scale Emigration for Economic Reasons from the Western Balkans

Matoshi, Ruzhdi and Mulaj, Isa (2021): The Paradox of Large Scale Emigration for Economic Reasons from the Western Balkans. Published in: Vizione No. 36 (30 March 2021): pp. 339-349.

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Emigration from economic hardships has always been a phenomenon and it will be in the future. The search for a better life and economic welfare is also one of the main pushing factors. Among many others, emigration for security reasons is a necessity. This was exactly the primary cause of mass emigration from the Western Balkans during the civil wars of 1990s. As the war affected areas in this part of Europe were reconstructed and better living conditions than before emerged, mass emigrations towards western European countries resurged after the outbreak of civil war elsewhere – in Syria, by using the massive flow of refugees from the Middle East as an opportunity to migrate with them. This became apparent especially in Kosovo, Albania, and Northern Macedonia since 2014 onwards. Unlike the Syrian refugees fleeing for their own security, the overwhelming majority of emigrants from the Western Balkans are listed as economic asylum seekers. Yet, back to their home countries which currently are peaceful, the living conditions of the emigrants are relatively good and considerably much easier than ever before, but they still chose to emigrate for their uncertain economic perspective to the Western Europe. Much of them after emigration find their economic life even harder than in their home country they left, and that still does not serve as a lesson to many more of their countrymen whose main ambition is to emigrate. Although their main public complaint is the economic reason, this paper finds that they mostly emigrate from social injustice, bad governance, and inefficient or selective rule of law, nepotism and discriminatory group interests, and high level of corruption behavior. After all, leaving the economic reasons aside, the emigrants want to live in the countries where the system has the rule of law that applies fairly, efficiently and treats them better. Many emigrants are even selling their property or diminishing their actual economic welfare at home just to search for a more relaxed life for themselves and their family members in the West.

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