The Effects of Migration to EU Countries in the Case of Active Population in the North-West Region, Romania


This paper approaches the causes and effects of human and labour force migration, two highly dynamic phenomena generated by globalization and the loss of stability caused by political and social conflicts from countries with low standards of living and social security. Globally, remittances to developing countries rose in 2014 by 6.3%, i.e. USD 414 billion, this sum rising to EUR 540 billion by 2016, according to the World Bank. The Romanian migration to the Western countries requires a comprehensive and complex approach. The data analysed here regards the North-West Region of Romania, especially the case Bihor County. Oficially, this migration reaches low levels, i.e. about 200.000 persons. Though, the illegal one is appreciated to reach 1.7 to 2.3 million persons. Its effects are mainly due to the loss of tax payers, the weakening of social solidarity in the social security system, the remittance of important amounts of money in the origin countries, the contact with other economic, social, or cultural models. At the same time, the effects of migration on families, especially on children left at home, have material and social consequences, affecting both the individual and community, this problematic situation requiring, in order to be solved, a complex approach.

Keywords: migrationsocial conflictsactive labour forceparentsmigrantschildren


Socio-economic crises, armed conflicts from different parts of the world, as well as the instability of

socio-economic policies often reformed, were determinative causes of migration from more vulnerable,

less developed countries, to other countries, in the hope of achieving a better life. Migration involves

territorial mobility, the change of the place of origin and even that of the residence, leading at the same

time to the change of social status of migrant persons. The scale and diversity of changes over the last

25 years in the contemporary world have affected, in different ways, Romania as well, bringing

profound changes in the political, economic, social, demographic, technological and cultural fields. The

economic and financial crisis that started in the United States of America in September 2008 involved

most countries, including countries from the European Union, among which Romania. In this context,

it is to be noted that the member states of the European Union have had to face the need for economic

growth and the modernization of the labour market. These are ensured inclusively by measures related

to the mobility of the labour force that may become available at a given moment in other countries,

where constraints related to the restructuring of the labour market and the loss of jobs may still exist.

At the same time, the need to develop social security systems on national, as well as community level,

is to be remarked, as an effect of economic causes, the increasing level of aging population, (based on

the continuous decrease of childbirth), and the generation of active population within the European

Economic Area. Migration is an "entirely social phenomenon" through which opportunities and

problems, history, present and future may be "read" at the level of Romanian society As Sandu

correctly observes, for Romanians emigration has become the preferred way to a quicker social

transition (Sandu, 2010, p. 35). The interest of the destination countries towards immigrants resides in

the fact that they constitute a considerable resource, accessible and cheap at the same time. Besides

covering the lack of physical labour shortages, the significant contribution of migrants to ensure the

sustainability of social security systems in destination countries has to be appreciated, now and in the

future as well. The phenomenon of migration has gained amplitude throughout the last decades, due to

the fact that countries and regions with a more fragile and less efficient economy began to confront

both the negative effects (generated by their economic restructuring and tensions of social nature that

affected a large part of the population), as well as the opening of migration opportunities, especially to

Western countries, as it is the case of Romania. Based on these, the population migration has lately

gained large proportions, with unprecedented dynamics and structure, affecting the population of

Romania, including the North-West Region. Romanian migration has become one of the main

migrations from the East towards the West of Europe, and its approach and treatment requires a

comprehensive vision and approach, especially on national level, taking into consideration the effects

of this phenomenon on short and long term. The migration phenomenon, generating effects on the

emigrants, on their family and local and national communities, would require adequate economic and

social policies. Negative economic effects of migration on the national level consist mainly in the loss

of tax payers, accompanied by the loss of the active labour force which was formed in Romania. In the

case of an individual, the positive effects of migration are materialized mainly by gaining professional

income, as well as revenues that pertain to the benefits of social security, in order to ensure the

necessary resources for achieving a standard of living for those directly involved and for their families.

Nonetheless, the benefits earned by emigrants from experiences gained through their contacts with

other economic, social, cultural models must be remarked, as well as the benefit of becoming a resident

in the countries of residence. Thus, the possibility of becoming beneficiaries of national social security

systems, of the community, is open to the immigrants. Moreover, the positive effects of emigration on

family the families involved are manifested by remitting a large sum of money to the country of origin.

Remittances sent home by Romanian migrants working abroad range from a minimum of 2.72 billion

euros in 2014 (according to the World Bank), while transfers in 2015 were at 3.3 billion euros, as

reported by the National Bank of Romania ( According to data from the

National Statistics Institute, more than 2.37 million Romanians work abroad, and many of them have

formed families there. It can be inferred that the migration of the active population - and especially that

of the youth - produces effects on the short and long term budgets from which the taxpayer who left

their country of origin is missing.

Economic Causes of the Population’s Migration

Justifying migration through economic causes is confined mainly to the effects of a GDP growth

below expectations. The growth of the national level poverty rate, its differentiation at territorial levels

presented below, and the existence of a socio-economic climate with weakly incentivized valences

have also to be taken into account.

The increased cost of living due to the decrease of the labour market and the restructuring of the

labour force demand, job losses by a significant number of persons and the challenges triggered by the

need to improve the standard of living are essential causes that motivated the external migration of the

Romanian population. Opportunities open for active domestic labour force on foreign labour force

markets, gaining additional income, and the possibility of achieving better material welfare in the

countries of destination, as well as the fact of being able to support the family of origin left at home -

all these motivate the people to migrate. Positive experiences of the migrants, the development of

entrepreneurial skills, and the possibility of making full use of the resources and markets that can be

accessed, which is a consequence of the guaranteed freedoms in the community area, are the important

benefits of migration.

Social Effects of Migration

The family, as a fundamental unit of society, aims to ensure, by parents - through the exercise of

functional parental responsibility, by consequently assuming specific risks - the necessary livelihood

for its members, particularly those related to the care and harmonious development of children. Due to

material constraints on the family, and the poor information of parents who move abroad, there is a

tendency of these persons to prioritize issues of economic nature to those involving children's rights,

especially those related to their upbringing, education and psycho-affective development within the

family. Parents who are in this situation, due to objective or subjective reasons, tend not to give

sufficient importance to the social problems of the family members, the situations of family risk that

may lead to the damaging of the family environment, and the quality of family relationships. This

prioritization of parental behaviours may cause hardly surmountable effects on the child. Providing

emotional support, schooling, child education, participation and skill development necessary for

independent living are indispensable needs for the normal development of a child. When parents ignore

or approach superficially these needs of children, as well as the risk situations, problems as neglect,

abuse, school dropout, vagabondage, human trafficking, labour exploitation, crime, and the danger of

marginalization or social exclusion may be facilitated. Obviously, all these require the intervention of

the state institutions specialized in ensuring children's rights and institutionalization. In the framework

set by the migration phenomenon, one often encounters the effects of a disorganized family, where

parents neglect, abuse or even abandon the minor. The age when the child is disadvantaged by negative

life experiences have, in turn, a decisive role. The lower the age of the child, the greater the effects of

these parental or environmental influences, foreshadowing disharmonic features.

Research Aims and Methodology

The aim of the research is to approach critically the phenomenon of parents migration in the case of

the North-West Region, Romania, in order to provide the guide marks for an efficient intervention

strategy focused on promoting the best interests of the child. In this respect, the first part of this paper

presents the amplitude/ dimensions, the main causes, and the effects of this migration, by which so

many parents left their children at home, in order to work in the countries of Western Europe. In

addition to this, the intervention of the specialized public institutions in the field of protection of

children’s rights and the insurance of child protection in risk situations, as well as the financial effects

of the takeover of these children into the county’s child welfare system, is also depicted, in order to

identify efficient solutions to the problems that affect the well-being of children, generated by parents

migration. The methodology used is based on the quantitative and qualitative analysis of the migration

phenomenon in the light of its determining causes in Romania, extended to the level of the North-West

Region, especially the case of Bihor County. Moreover, the interview, as a method of qualitative

research, was applied to the specialists working in the field of education and social protection for

children. The collected data originates from central and local institutions with competence in the

researched domain, i.e. the National Statistics Institute, County Statistics Directorate, and the General

Directorate of Social Assistance and Child Protection Bihor. The processing of quantitative and

qualitative data has been performed by the author.

Research of the Effects of Migration on Children in the Case of Parents Departed for Work

for a Prolonged Period of Time from the North-West Region, Romania

In order to track as suggestively as possible the causes of the population’s emigration, we quote the

following statement regarding the evolution of the relative poverty rate and gross domestic product

(GDP), as follows:

Figure 1: Fig. 1 . Percentage rate of relative poverty in Romania (noted with blue), and the North-West Region (noted with pink),
Fig. 1 . Percentage rate of relative poverty in Romania (noted with blue), and the North-West Region (noted with pink),
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Source: NSI – National Statistics Institute

It can be concluded that, in the last five years, the degree of relative poverty has reached high levels

in Romania, being in a continuing increase. In the North-West Region, where Bihor County lies, the

degree of the relative poverty level is lower, with oscillating values, tending closer to the national level.

Analysis of GDP in Romania and Bihor County between 2010 and 2013 is as follows:

Figure 2: Fig. 2 . GDP in Romania (noted with yellow) and Bihor County (noted with green)
Fig. 2 . GDP in Romania (noted with yellow) and Bihor County (noted with green)
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Source: NSI – National Statistics Institute

It can be concluded that between 2010 and 2013, in Romania, both on national and Bihor County

level, GDP has values that do not determine a continuous increase. Rather, it reaches oscillating annual

values, with tendencies not to follow the same trend of annual evolution at county level, in comparison

to the national one. In the chart below, we present the situation of the children from Bihor County

whose parents have left for work abroad between 2010 and 2015:

Figure 3: Fig. 3. Children with parents working abroad from Bihor County
Fig. 3. Children with parents working abroad from Bihor County
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Source : General Directorate of Social Assistance and Child Protection of Bihor County (□ = Total number of children; □ = Number of children from single-parent familieswhose unique parent has left for work abroad; □ = Number of children from families where one parent has left for work abroad; □ = Number of children from families where both parentshave left for work abroad)

It can be concluded from this dynamic analysis that there is a growing number of children left

behind at home. In the case of most families - 705 cases, out of a total of 1158 registered in 2015, one

parent remained at home with the children. 453 cases registered in 2015 concern children left behind

with neither of their parents, this number of cases resulting from the departure of 187 parents from

single-parent families, and 266 children with both parents gone to work abroad. In order to characterize

the effects of migration on children in terms of cases of neglect, we present below the situation of

abuse, neglect and exploitation confirmed in Bihor County in the period between 2010 and 2015:

Figure 4: Fig. 4. Types of abuse/ neglect/ exploit confirmed in the period between 2010 and 2015 in Bihor County;
Fig. 4. Types of abuse/ neglect/ exploit confirmed in the period between 2010 and 2015 in Bihor County;
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Source : General Directorate of Social Assistance and Child Protection of Bihor County (□ = Total of cases; □ = Behavioral disorders;□ = Neglect/ Exploitation; □= Sexual abuse; □ = Physical abuse; □ = Emotional abuse) It appears that in the first 5 years the number of cases of abuse, neglect and exploitation among

children in Bihor County has reached annual rates with insignificant violations, their average being 85

cases, and in 2015 a significant decrease, reaching the number of 45 cases. In all these cases the

intervention of authorities was necessary and specific measures of child protection were taken. The

data provided by the County School Inspectorate, registered for the period between the years 2014 and

2015, shows a number 544 dropouts, of which: 423 cases from primary education, 121 cases from

secondary education. These 544 dropouts comprises 135 cases registered in urban areas and 419

registered in rural areas. In Bihor County, the intervention of specialized public institutions regarding

the protection of children in risk situations is organized through the General Directorate of Social

Assistance and Child Protection, as a specialized public institution for the protection of abused,

neglected, and exploited children. The General Directorate includes in its organizational structure a

specialized intervention service for urgent intervention on the protection of children’s rights in a risk

situation. The specialized intervention service cooperates with other public institutions and private

organizations, performing specific assessment and intervention concerning children from the streets,

abused, neglected, and exploited children, the child victims of human trafficking, repatriated children,

children in the situation of illegal migration, those who commit criminal acts and are not criminally

responsible, as well as the victims of domestic violence. The service performs coordination and

guidance of activities carried out at specialized centres of intervention or the Emergency Reception

Centre for abused, neglected, and exploited children, Day and Night time Shelter for Children from the

Street, Child Helpline for reporting cases of emergency, and the Centre of Counselling and Support for

parents and children. The service also performs specific activities regarding the protection of children’s

rights in the situation of court decision enforcements related to minors. The financial effects, at the

level of Bihor County, of migrant parents whose children had been left behind at home and have been

taken over into the child welfare system throughout the year 2015, meant a budgetary effort of approx.

RON 2.3 million (source: General Directorate of Social Assistance and Child Protection – Bihor



The absence of parents, of a nurturing environment, induces the lack of normal emotions in the

child, which may cause delays in their physical development, the emerging of behavioural disorder,

and even mental retardation. The effects of a disorganized family produce an emotional and social

imbalance on the children.

The precarious development of family relations affect the entire psychological development of the

child, which may have negative consequences throughout their whole life, inhibiting personal

development and social relations. In 2004, Law no. 272 was adopted, updated in 2014, on the

protection and promotion of child rights, which comply closely with the Convention on the Rights of

the Child and expands the scope of protection of children in difficulty to child rights protection.

The abandonment of children by migrant parents, the fact of leaving them behind at home, produces

negative effects on the long term, inducing syncopated perspectives of development. These effects

appear in the process of education, apprenticeship, gaining of habits for an independent life, health

conditions, and ultimately, in their chances of socio-economic integration. Government Decision no.

691/2015 describes the procedure for monitoring the growth and care of children whose parents work

abroad, and those who returned home after a stay abroad with their parents longer than one year.

Poverty and job insecurity are the main causes of labour force migration. The consequence consists

in the existance of significant differences between opportunities offered by labour force markets in the

countries of destination (mainly in Western Europe), the incomes being significantly greater as those

in gained in Romania. That is why we consider that, on the national level, the promotion of adequate

socio-economic policies, that would motivate development instead of migration, would be necessary.

Simultaneously, we consider that repatriation policies would have to be elaborated and promoted in

order to make the former Romanian emigrants to return home during their active years, in the benefit of

their families and Romanian society, by making full use of the experiences they gained abroad.

Moreover, we consider that, in order to inform the potential migrants on children’s rights and the

specific measures of child protection, that can be accessed locally and community-wise, a national

campaign should be started. By observing the span of negative effects of the phenomenon, we note that

the specialized state institutions manage to solve only partially – that means the emergency situations -

the cases of children exposed to risk situations. Currently, the budgetary effort presented earlier,

although consistent, the necessity of improving the identification and development measures of a

support system for the families of children left behind at home, involving their education and socio-

professional integration into Romania’s labour market, still persists. In this regard, Social Assistance

Law no. 292 / 2011 mentions the possibility of organizing social services in integrated system, next to

the fields of employment, health and education (Law of Social Assistance 292/2011). Considering the

amplitude of the phenomenon, it is necessary to raise awareness among those involved directly.

Subsequently, political forces, local community administrations and civil society should be mobilized

as well, in order to prevent and treat the negative effects of migration.


  1. Government Decision No. 691 of 19.08.2015. for the approval of the monitoring procedure of the modalities of child upbringing, with parents employed abroad.
  2. Law No. 272/2004 regarding protection and promotion of children’s rights, republished in 2014.
  3. Sandu, D. (2010). Social Worlds of Romanian Migration Abroad. Bucharest: Polirom.
  4. Surpriză: Muncitorii români din Anglia au trimis mai mulţi bani acasă decât cei din Spania şi Italia. (March, 22, 2016). Retrievede from:, accessed on 31.03.2016.
  5. The Law of Social Assistance 292 from 20th December 2011, published in Romania’s Official Gazette No. 905 from 20th December 2011.

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04 October 2016

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Cite this article as:

Szarka, A. (2016). The Effects of Migration to EU Countries in the Case of Active Population in the North-West Region, Romania. In A. Sandu, T. Ciulei, & A. Frunza (Eds.), Logos Universality Mentality Education Novelty, vol 15. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 993-1000). Future Academy.