Brain Circulation and the Role of the Diaspora in the Balkans - Albania, Kosova and Macedonia
294 Pages Posted: 19 Dec 2013
Date Written: May 16, 2013
Countries of the Western Balkans constitute an important part of the contemporary system of migration. Three important factors shape the current migration ﬂows in the region: the socialist legacy, existing migrant networks, and migration policies, mainly of the receiving countries. This study focuses on three countries of the Western Balkans: Albania, Macedonia, and Kosovo. Unlike nationals of Albania, whence exit was near impossible, citizens of Macedonia and Kosovo, being constituent parts of the former Yugoslavia, enjoyed relative freedom of movement across Europe and they have traditionally been source countries of labor migration. The collapse of the socio-economic and political order that attended upon the breakup of the former Yugoslavia was accompanied by ethnic conflicts of the 1990s, high unemployment, and general impoverishment of large sections of the population. These factors, coupled with the onset of transition to a market economy, further strengthened the networks of labor migration throughout Europe that were created by nationals of the Western Balkan. The refugee regimes and immigration policies of major destination countries of the OECD played a significant role in this process. Today, many of these countries contain the bulk of the diaspora from the Western Balkans, including the three countries under study.
1. 2 Objectives and Scope of the Study
The overall objective of this research is to offer interested readers and policymakers an insight into the dynamics of skill migration and brain circulation within the Western Balkans-OCED corridor. The study focuses on three countries of the Western Balkans: Albania, Macedonia, and Kosovo.
To achieve the overall objective, we begin by offering a synopsis of the size, nature, and characteristics of the skilled diaspora from the three countries drawing upon all available information. The study then focuses upon two important subsets of the skilled population of each country: students and skilled returnees. Specifically, we target pre-final and final year students at the tertiary level as they are expected to be highly outwardly mobile and thus ideally suited to study the phenomenon of skill migration, and, a fortiori, as the number of students studying outside the countries of their origin has been increasing rapidly over the last quarter of a century -- from less than half a million in the mid-1980s to almost three million by 2011 (Rizvi, 2011). Consequently, international student mobility is increasingly recognized to be the most important vehicle of brain circulation between the developing south and the developed north. Similarly, given the interest of policy-makers in brain gain, the study targets the skilled subset of return migrants. Thus, the study seeks to answer two important research questions:
1. What motivates tertiary level students to migrate from the country of origin and what is the potential of migration from the selected countries of the Western Balkans?
2. Why do some highly skilled members of the Diasporas return home, and what obstacles and opportunities await them upon return? The study tackles the above questions utilizing all available information, and, more importantly, by collecting primary data using both quantitative and qualitative methods. The study further seeks to contribute to our cumulative knowledge in the field of brain drain/gain/circulation by identifying common patterns among the Albanian, the Macedonian, and the Kosovar skilled returnees and would-be student migrants. Finally, the study aims to discuss the policy implications of the observed patterns of emigration and return migration for leveraging the skilled diaspora for development.
Keywords: Brain circulation, diaspora, migration, Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo
JEL Classification: J61, J62
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation