IMF: Eastern European emigration harmful for domestic economies

Emigration has led to positive outcomes for migrants, and for the EU as a whole. Yet it may also have slowed growth and income convergence in the 20 Eastern European economies that were studied in the new IMF report.

Nearly 20 million people have left the countries of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe (CESEE) – from Albania to Estonia – over the last 25 years. Their reasons for doing so vary, but the majority have left their homelands seeking to improve their own well-being as well as that of their families back home. This exodus represents the largest emigration in the world in modern times as a share of sending country population.

A new report from the International Monetary Fund released earlier this week says that the migration is an indicator of success of the EU project, which sees freedom of movement as necessary for achieving greater economic integration and ultimately higher incomes, it has had an adverse impact on the countries left behind.

The widespread emigration from the CESEE regions coincides with several other socioeconomic phenomena including skills gaps, brain drain, and rapidly aging populations – as well as an influx in refugees causing widespread disagreement on how to deal with population flows.

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(Photo: Evangelos Vlasopoulos/