Romania: one in five workers lives abroad
Almost one-fifth (19.7 percent) of working-age Romanians live outside the country according to a 2017 Eurostat survey published on Tuesday. Romania thus tops the list of countries whose citizens are leaving to work abroad. The EU average is just 3.8 percent of a country's working-age population. Many of these migrants have left Romania for good, observers fear.
Pay too low, prices too high
It's as if emigration from Romania were a natural process, the business paper Ziarul Financiar comments:
“People leave because they can't find suitable work within a radius of 100 or so kilometres from where they live. Even if workers are sought after, the fact is that while prices are similar to those in the West, wages are one-fifth of what they are there. That's why people leave. The absorption of labour by other areas is a natural process as long as the unbearable differences in living standards persist. And as with a physical reaction, the people react like a compressed gas that immediately seeps into empty spaces.”
A new generation of emigrants
It's unlikely that many of those leaving Romania will return one day, journalist Cristian Unteanu writes in his blog for Adevârul:
“Among the first generation of 'strawberry pickers', the percentage of those who returned was still very high. In general these were unskilled workers or middle-aged labourers with average qualifications. They worked to make money and for the most part came back to build a house like the ones they saw in the West. But very soon the number of young people with a higher level of education started to grow, and they now make up a large percentage of the emigrants. I personally believe that only a very small percentage of them will return. At least as long as the economic situation in Romania remains so unpredictable.”