The Latest Trends And Socio-Economic Effects Of Migration In The Romanian Countryside


Today's Romanian migration towards the developed EU countries is one of the most complex and dynamic movements in Europe. We aim to investigate the directions of external migration in the Romanian countryside, but also to find out which groups are most exposed to emigration, from the perspective of the theory that explains the migration through the push-pull factors. To achieve our goals, we used sociological inquiry, and the technique chosen was the sociological survey. Our research sample consists of a group of rural residents, representative nationwide by sex, region, and age. The sampling was done through a non-aleatory method, using quotas, and weighing the results. The most vulnerable to the push and pull factors are the South-West, South, South-East, North-West, North-East, Center, Bucharest-Ilfov and West regions. The results revealed that the 18-55 age group, women and those with high school education appear to be more attracted to migration. The largest numbers left for Italy, Spain, Germany, France, and the UK. Their main migration motivations were to earn money to send home to their family, to find better job opportunities, or to reunite with their friends and family members who are already living abroad. The most worrying effects stem from the exodus of physicians and youth, family abandonment and breakdown, forced modernization of rural areas, and dropout rates. The authorities need to tackle the push factors of emigration, but also to adjust the migration policy to better support immigration.

Keywords: Romanian rural migrationpush-pull factors


Transnational migration in a new age

The phenomena of human migration are not coincidental but determined by social, economic, political, cultural, ecological causes at the international or national level, in origin and destination countries. Migration causes mutations in population structure by gender, age groups, occupational background, and level of training. Its major stimuli are not only an imbalance within the economic sectors of counties, regions, and countries but also, in relation to other countries.

The underlying motivation for migration is the search for better social and economic opportunities, or the escape from persecution, civil conflicts or natural disasters. The exodus of the labor force comes from the freezing of labor force needs in different countries, the size and development level of the economy, the strength of the private sector, the high unemployment rate in rural and urban areas, underpaying professionals, entering into contact with advanced economies and societies, as well as study or professional development possibilities abroad.

At the same time, migration is a social process in the category of spatial mobility (Anghel & Horvath, 2009). Between 3-4% of the world's population is made up of migrants, in the circumstances of reducing transport costs and risks. Migration processes become decreasingly ruled by the geographical proximity of the migrants (Ravenstein, 1885; 1889). Moreover, new migration systems have developed with long-lasting migration practices. Contemporary migration has diversified, being increasingly heterogeneous regarding the destinations and structure of the populations involved. Migrations tend to be institutionalized and between distinct geographic units. At the same time, the proportion of female migration increased. Additionally, the diversification of migration also consists in the variety of the categories involved, and the objectives pursued, and in the circumstances of international globalization and regionalization. Thus, migrants are looking for not just for jobs or business opportunities, but also for study programs and relationships. There is also an amplification of the economic delocalization processes (production capacities). With regard to social and professional stratification, the younger population engages in migration in significant numbers, as does the population with or without qualifications (Sandu, 2010).

Considering the dynamics of migration, we notice the transformation of emigration countries into immigration destinations (within the EU, for example, Italy and Spain) and vice versa. Migration dependency of some countries and regions (communities in the countries of origin partly dependent on the financial remittances of migrants; for instance, several billion Euros entered in Romania in 2007) has also changed. On the other hand, developed economies depend, to some degree, on qualified migrants (services, agriculture, construction). The negative and positive dependencies between economies are among the reasons for maintaining and enhancing migration. Many developed countries consider the decline in fertility, the aging of the population and the emergence of significant imbalances between generations when setting their migration policies.

At the same time, the cultural heterogeneity also increases in developed countries (Zaharia, 2016). Often, multiculturalism has significant deficiencies, and immigrants do not fully integrate into the societies that host them. Minority groups are marginalized, while racism and cultural-religious intolerance are growing. Even the classic idea of citizenship, as an exclusive loyalty towards a political-national entity, is changing.

Moreover, the typology of migration is changing: temporary and final migration, legal and illegal, voluntary, forced, internal and external migration. Today, in large part, external migration is favored by the permeability and penetrability of borders. States can control migration and enforce specific admission quotes, which benefit the qualified and highly qualified. When carried out under legal conditions, emigration involves the provision of socio-economic, political, and legal rights. Thus, migration regimes are created with the possibility of access to passports, visas, and regulated border crossings. Still, many migrants remain in an incomplete migration phase. Of course, socio-economically motivated migration prevails within the EU, although political asylum seekers are also accepted. Proactive and reactive migrations may also occur. Ethnic migration was very strong in Eastern and Southeastern Europe in the case of German minorities or ethnic Jews between 1960 to1990.

In migration cultures, transnational migration is a model of space and social mobility. It is about the formation of transnational social spaces. People have multiple connections, groups, and organizations. However, transnational social spaces also form in the diaspora.

Internal migration in Romania

Internal migrations are population movements within the borders of a state, and they may be intra-regional or inter-regional (Suditu, Prelipceanu, Vîrdol, Stângaciu, 2014). The most important migrations are rural-urban, interurban and urban-rural. Migrations can be extended or short-lived, even if they are internal.

Domestic migration had increased from 8.6% in 1985 to 33.9% in 2004. Between 1990 and 2000, the volume of territorial mobility was reduced to 10-13 changes of residence per 1000 inhabitants. Internal migration increased to 16% in 2001, compared to 14.4% in 2009, rising to 21.4% in 2010. In 1991, 50.3% of the volume of domestic migration focused on rural-urban flows; this flow dropped to 19.5% by 2000; while the urban-rural flow increased to 33.8%. The economic restructuring after 1990 stimulated the last developments mentioned (NIS, 2006).

In the first ten years after the revolution, except 1990, the rate of arrivals for men and women was below 15%. In 2010, there is the largest gender gap in settling, with 23 out of 1,000 women settled in a locality in Romania, accounting for 54.9% of all domestic migrants, while the rate of setting for men was only 19.8%. Regarding age differences, young people aged between 20-29 were more attracted to establishing a new home, accounting for 40% in 2010, while the frequency of settling of people over 60 was only 6%. Also, the rate of arrival of people over 40 is two times lower than those under the age of 19. Since 1996, the migration rate for rural areas is positive. Pillars of origin of mobility are Bucharest, Iasi, Constanta, Hunedoara, Brasov, while the domestic destinations are Ilfov, Bucharest, Cluj, Timis, Brasov (Suditu et al., 2014).

Earnings directly influence the internal dynamics of migration. The regions with the highest average incomes attract the most migrants, while those with the lowest have the highest number of departures (Suditu et al., 2014).

The typology of internal migration includes seasonal movements or temporary migration, both determined by the need for complementary resources. In seasonal migration, people continue to work in agriculture. However, long-lasting or definitive internal mobility is crucial, with urban-rural and urban-urban migration, from the deindustrialized cities to those in development, from the small and the big cities, being significant.

Migration is stimulated, among other things, by demographic factors. In almost all regions the elderly population is growing, while birth rates are in decline. Therefore, the demographic dependence will increase to 68%, while the current European dependency rate is 26%.

If the periods 1965-1989 and 1990-1993 are characterized by rural exodus (associated with industrialization and urbanization), the rural exodus after 1998 took place in parallel with the mass emigration of the rural population abroad, causing depopulation in some areas. Depopulation not only refers to the reduction of the stable population but also productive activities. At the same time, there are rural areas that have managed to integrate into regional economic circuits in the EU, peri-urban areas with upgraded transport infrastructure. Multinationals also set the directions of activity in rural agriculture. More and more agro-industrial branches are developing. Also, in some areas, rural development is combined with local tourism.

Domestic migration, through the change of environment, revolved post-1990 around a predominantly urban to rural route. The domestic exchange rates have been, in the past few years, about 4% higher for migration from cities to communes, than the other way around. This population movement trend is explained by the development of residential areas, which are situated in the rural areas near urban localities and are characterized by a higher living standard.

International migration in the European Union

In Europe and other continents, international migration flows occur between the less developed and the developed countries. In the case of international migration, there are also demographic, economic, political and climatic factors. Some Western experts and politicians have however drawn attention to the fact that a free movement of people in the EU for states outside the Schengen area would result in increased demographic pressure. The Schengen Agreement was signed in 1985. However, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Cyprus have yet to ratify this agreement. European migration legislation and the 'Blue Book' programs after 2009 contain common provisions, on top of which those of the Member States are added. The Europe 2020 agenda is inclusive, considering that the EU is facing demographic challenges such as aging, falling birth rates, and depopulation of some areas.

On January 1, 2007, in the recently expanded EU27 territory, EUROSTAT data registered 27 million residents who did not have the nationality of the host state. Of these, 92.5% were hosted by the EU15 and only 7.5% by the other 12 Member States that joined the EU in 2004 and 2007. Also, around 74.9% of all foreigners (20,897,999 persons) were concentrated in five states: 7.3 million foreigners in Germany; 4 million in Spain; 3.5 million in France; about 3.4 million in the UK and 2.7 million in Italy. In 2007, foreigners (including nationals of EU and the non-EU Member States) accounted for 5.64% of the total population of the European Union. Meanwhile, the newer Member States have an insignificant proportion of foreign citizens' in their population. For example, the Slovak Republic recorded 0.47% of foreigners, Romania 0.12%, and Bulgaria 0.34%. In many countries, non-citizens came mostly (over 50%) from another EU country.

In the future, the EU will need 900,000 qualified, and highly skilled people in areas such as nanotechnology, biotechnology, microelectronics, and nanoelectronics. The US and Canada are doing much better than the EU in this regard, having effective brainstorming policies. In the USA, 42% of individuals aged 24-65 have completed a tertiary education cycle. This is reflected by 45% in Finland 45%, 27% in Germany, 32% in France and 19% in Romania. In the years to come, competitiveness will be directed towards intensive services in knowledge and high technology production. Overall, 35% of jobs will require tertiary studies. However, it is also crucial for EU states to have a decisive say in the admission of foreign nationals. For work, fewer residence permits are issued than for asylum. In principle, citizens of the Member States should not be required to have work permits.

The present analyses indicate the push factors are the low levels of living in countries of origin, or their poverty and unemployment levels, ethnic problems and other social tensions. Pull factors include the higher levels of living in the West, higher wages, the development of social networks, the advantages of the rule of law, and reliable and capable administrations. Historical and cultural factors also come into play. Other factors affect the migration process such as the politics of some states, the labor laws, and the aversion of some circles of the population.

Brussels considers the intra-EU migration to be a form of mobility of the population and it includes any movement, regardless of duration, purpose or form. The EU is developing its multi-ethnic and cultural diversity policy to accommodate the growing migration flows.

The EU has developed its common policy on migration aimed at regulating and controlling migratory flows, combating illegal migration, improving the integration of migrants in host societies, and building a European asylum system. Migration is necessary ​​to combat the labor shortage in the EU and the aging of the population, provide human capital to sustain balanced economic growth and the accumulation of experiences and knowledge in the Union. The factors influencing labor migration are favorable perspectives for young people compared to in the countries of origin, the decline of some economic sectors, the desire for professional affirmation and the desire to improve the standard of living. The benefits of migration include economic integration and intercultural dialogue, providing the labor force needs in developed countries, generating cash flows to countries of origin and facilitating the transfer of knowledge and technology to migrants' countries of origin.

From an economic perspective, for the host countries, the effects of migration are favorable, while for the country of origin, they are often contradictory. The benefits are professional and work culture development, making substantial revenues, and increasing the capacity of migrants to make investments. The disadvantages include the loss of human capital, the emergence of labor shortages in specific areas, and the possibility of stagnation of the economy (Oneaşcă, Popa, Ungureanu, 2013).

In 2012, 15 million migrants worked in EU countries of which 6 million came from the Union. Bilateral labor agreements have been signed with several states outside the EU. The research into migratory flows in the EU proves that affluence to the Union has increased considerably since 2000. In 2008, there were 3.8 million migrants, and in 2011 another 3 million were added. The number of migrants in EU countries has increased by 12% between 2002-2008, peaking in 2007. In 2008, 2 million European citizens migrated followed by another 1.3 million in 2009. The Romanians ranked first, followed by Poles and Germans. Thus, up to 2008, 384,000 Romanian citizens have settled in the EU, totaling 2.4 million by 2012 with the favored destinations being Spain and Italy. Britain, Germany, Spain, and Italy have 60% of all immigrants (Oneaşcă, Popa, Ungureanu, 2013).

Between 2008-2011, the percentage of male migrants was 52% and 48% female. In Italy, more women than men migrated. With regard to the labor market, in May 2013, there were 26 million unemployed in the Union. The unemployment rate reached 12.2%, with 5 million jobs lost. Spain had 21.6% unemployment, compared to 8.1% in the UK. Most job vacancies, in 2013, were in finance and sales, services, housekeeping, restaurants, personal care and IT. In 2012, Great Britain provided 35% of free jobs (260,000) with Germany in second place (190,000).

The EU also applies a balanced and comprehensive Cooperation Strategy with non-EU states to promote legal migration and to manage mobility, combat illegal migration and human trafficking, and ensure the strengthening of the external dimension of asylum. There are signed mobility partnerships with Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Morocco, Tunisia, and Azerbaijan. Between 2014-2020, the EU fund for asylum, migration, and integration has a budget of 3.1 billion Euros, while 4 billion Euros were allocated for the Solidarity and Management of Migration Flows.

Asylum policies in the EU

The asylum status is given as a form of international protection to people leaving their country because of ethnic, religious, and political persecution. Over 890,000 people have applied for asylum in 2013. The EU has accepted 43.5% of world asylum applications, the rest being met in the Asian and African states. In this respect, the Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees (1951), the judgments of the EU Court of Fundamental Rights and the Treaty on the Functioning of the Union are respected. There is a Common European Asylum System (CEAS) and a European Asylum Support Office (EASO). Countries to whom asylum applications are assigned must provide them with material support and facilitate their vocational training.

On a broader scale, the European Migration Agenda of 2015 recorded 283,532 illegal border crossings which led to strengthening measures to counteract illegal human trafficking; strengthening FRONTEX for the return of illegal aliens, ratification of new EC coordination measures like EAS, FRONTEX, EUROPOL, supporting the first-line states of illegal immigration and cooperation on FRONTEX PSAC (Common Security Policy). On the other hand, 626,715 asylum applications were submitted in 2014 in the EU, and 17 million visas granted in 2013, while 2.3 million residence permits where given. In this respect, more effective support policies for local development, especially in North and Central Africa, and a more accurate redistribution system of asylum cases in the EU is needed. In 2013, 185,000 people were given asylum in EU, with 70,000 of these coming from Syria. In 2014, 270,000 illegal immigrants entered the Union, most of whom originated from North Africa.

The crisis that occurred in the first half of 2015, when hundreds of thousands of people from North Africa stormed southern Europe, can be attributed to the EU’s inability to follow a common foreign policy.

To counter the Syrian Refugee Crisis, the EU leadership decided on 27 May 2015 to apply article 78 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the Union for 40,000 people, to transfer them from Italy and Greece to other states (40% of asylum requests with explicit protection needs coming from Syria and Eritrea). 6,000 Euros per transferred person were provided by the EU. 20,000 people identified by UNHCR were to be reassigned until the end of 2017 with the EU providing 50 million euros to the Member States to help foster them. In this regard, Romania is set to receive transfers of 1,023 asylum seekers from Italy and 682 from Greece and 657 relocated refugees.

External migration of the Romanian population

Immediately after December 22, 1989, the total number of emigrants from Romania reached 347,926 persons. The 2011 census recorded a stable population of 19 million and at least 910,000 people displaced abroad. However, by 2013, over 3.5 million people, 10% of the total population, were involved in definitive or temporary/circulatory emigration (Dimitriu, Muntele, Marcu, Dimitriu, 2013). Thus, Romania had become the leading labor force provider in the EU.

The post-1989 emigration stages are: 1) the departure of German minorities and Jews before 1989 and beyond; 2) the triggering of external emigration; 3) the start of the massive unregulated migration (2002-2007); 4) unrestricted emigration to the EU after 2007. Also, until 2007, 1.2 million Romanians from the Republic of Moldova have applied for Romanian citizenship.

The 1990-1993 migration sub-period was characterized by ethnicity, involving mainly Germans, and political asylum seekers, who were determined to abandon the country after the Miners' rampage from 1990 and subsequent years. Moreover, between1994-1996 mainly minorities emigrated, even some Hungarians, as well as more political asylum seekers and Romanian ethnics looking for jobs. These emigrants were geared towards Germany, Hungary, France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Israel, USA, and Canada. Between 1997-2001, the level of circular migration and human trafficking increased. From 2002-2007, the migratory flows towards Italy and Spain increased significantly, since from 2007 the labor market in the Union opened for all Romanians (some Member States could still impose restrictions until 2010). On the other hand, from 2008-2009, there was a shift in the direction of the emigration and remigration flows of Romanians towards the northern states and the UK, because of the financial crises of 2008-2009. In the following years, the UK became one of the most desired destinations for Romanian emigrants.

Interestingly, after 1989, more than 400,000 Romanian citizens filed asylum applications in Germany, half of them from the Roma ethnic minority. However, since 1992, Romania and Germany have signed a repatriation agreement that involved the repatriation of 100,000 migrants (40% being of Roma ethnicity). In the 1990s, over 500,000 Romanian citizens emigrated to Germany, 180,000 per year, especially on tourist visas. Also, small traders working between Romania and the neighboring countries (Poland, Hungary, Serbia, Turkey) became involved in external migration. It must be emphasized that ethnic and religious emigration was of great importance in the 1990s. Thus, the Adventist Church has supported the migration networks, especially in Spain, where construction workers were sought. Adventists also helped many Orthodox believers in their emigration projects. Both Catholic and Neo-Protestant churches have fueled migration networks, the latter mainly in Germany and Spain. Members of Catholic churches also helped Romanian emigrants to settle in Italy and Spain.

A severe turning point in Romanian emigration occurred after 1997, in the context of the intensification of the process of deindustrialization – especially through privatizations - and impoverishment of broad categories of rural towns and villages. From a total of 9.5 million jobs in 1990, the total workforce dropped to 4.5 million in 1999 (excluding rural areas). At the same time, there are also regional emigration directions: the inhabitants of the west of Romania would head to Germany and Hungary or France. Those in eastern Romania (70,000 people in the 1990s) would go to work in Israel. People from the south of the country and Transylvania headed towards Spain and Italy. Migration networks and their routes have gradually diversified, becoming an essential part of the movement of Romanians abroad.

For many years emigration destinations have been seen as sources of income for Romanians, and not as states where the Romanians intended to settle. Circular (round-trip) migration has been favored, but in recent years permanent migration has become predominant.

Furthermore, the state intervened to boost the emigration for work by negotiating labor agreements and signing agreements with Spain in 2003.

Since 2008, the number of Romanians living abroad has increased dramatically. Mixed marriages have increased while more and more children joined their parents abroad.

After 2008, a crisis hit the emigrants too. As a result, some of the Romanian migrants from Spain have re-migrated to the UK, France, Germany and the Nordic countries. The affluence of some Romanians of Roma ethnicity has provoked heated discussions in the Western press.

As far as emigrating to the USA is concerned, up to 2000, 140,000 people emigrated, one-third of them having higher education (doctors, computer scientists, students). Other professionals emigrated to Canada.

The hierarchical classifications of Romanian migration outline 8 major areas of departure. The first type of emigration is specific to the South, accentuating in recent years in Prahova, Brăila, Dolj, Vâlcea, Dâmboviţa, Botoşani, and Vaslui counties. The Vaslui and Botoşani counties’ emigration intensified after 2005. The second type is specific to Bucharest and the other localities where deindustrialization had a lesser impact on the economy. The third type highlights the urban-rural balance. The fourth type is characteristic of the counties of Transylvania. The fifth type refers to the counties of Cluj, Bihor, Mureş, which have benefited from foreign investments. The Hungarian minority emigrated intensely until 1995. The sixth type corresponds to the counties of Brasov, Caraş-Severin and, to some degree, the capital. The seventh type centers on Arad, with numbers exceeding the national average. The eighth and last type, refers to Timis and Sibiu counties, with emigration benefiting from foreign investments.

Since the negative consequences of emigration are strongly associated with the demographic pressures, in areas with a longer history of migration, the demographic balance degrades more strongly, as its effects are harder to counteract. The areas where deindustrialization significantly affected the local economy in the 1990s (Bacău, Roman, Focşani, Făgăraş) generated massive temporary emigration. Therefore, it can be concluded that the older the migration processes are, the more women are engaging in emigration, the more dangerous the negative demographic effects become.

Another direction of research on emigration is centered on analyzing the structure of the age groups of migrants. Most Romanian emigrants are between 15-50 years (predominantly 20-40 years old). Also, younger people, between 20-30 years emigrate to find jobs or to study, and those between 30-40 years to support their children’s education. There are also older adults who emigrate, mostly to contribute to the education of their grandchildren. In Italy, the male Romanian emigrants are mostly located in the region of Lombardy. The same situation is also happening in Germany where parents are starting to take their children abroad at the end of the primary education cycle. As a result, more than 140,000 Romanian minors study in Italy and just as many in Spain.

Regarding the educational status, most migrants stop at the average level. Emigrants with higher education remain between 5-10%. More than 30% of emigrated intellectuals have university-pedagogical specialization, 28% economic and 22% technical. On the other hand, almost 60% of emigrants are married, irrespective of the urban or rural area of their residence. Of those married, 40% are accompanied by their partners, the rest migrating alone while the other parent usually remains in the country of origin to take care of their children.

Most Romanian emigrants prefer Italy and Spain as their destinations. More than 60% of those originating in the counties of Moldova who left opted for Italy, and only 14% for Spain, unlike those from Bucharest, Teleorman, and the counties of Transylvania, who chose Spain as their destination. We note that for emigrants the pull factors are not only the well-being in the destination countries but also their possibility to integrate there. Hence, they tend to emigrate to countries with similar or related confessional beliefs. The lower and intermediate classes prefer Italy and Spain, mainly because of cultural similarities and the existence of important diasporas. Intellectuals, on the other hand, target Germany, the UK, and France being less dependent on support networks. Romanian immigrants in Italy are concentrated in the northern and central areas, and around Madrid, Catalonia, and Andalusia in Spain. In the UK, Romanians prefer to settle in the London area (70.3%), emigration there having a more elitist character. In Germany, authorities encourage emigration for work as auto mechanics, in hotels, and health care, the poles being Munich, Stuttgart, and Cologne, with a female workforce being preferred (54%). For France, Paris, Lyon and Marseille are the main migration destinations.

Effects of the Romanian international migration

The research on the effects of international migration on origin countries has developed over the last few years. Researchers distinguish between short and medium-term and long-term effects (Anghel, Botezat, Coşciug, Manafi, Roman, 2006). In the short term, the labor market in the home country is calming down, and remittances help to improve the material state of the population. In the long run, many effects may be adverse due to the reduction in active population and the brain drain effect.

The effects of the migration phenomenon occur as soon as it begins to manifest itself. These effects may be positive or negative and can be felt in the long, medium or short term. Identifying and analyzing the effects of migration raise several issues. Communities of origin are developing as a result of the migration of a large part of the population, so migrations become means of ensuring, not only the survival but also of improvement of the migrant's life. Certain communities provide opportunities for local long-term development, job creation and even economic opportunities and investment for migrants. Thus, we can see these effects in the changes in the life of the individual, the family or the migrant group, but also in the life of the community to which he belongs or in which he wants to integrate. The negative effects of highly skilled labor migration for the country of origin increase especially when people with professions that the economy cannot dispense with emigrate, affecting the development of the whole society, in the short and medium term, as well as on the long term. Instead, it is noticeable that the countries to which the highly-qualified professionals have registered have grown economically due to the influx of human capital brought by immigrants.

It is estimated that at the beginning of 2000, about 34% of the Romanian emigrants were highly trained. However, almost 30% of Romanian immigrants from Italy and 24% of Spain have held previously no jobs (Anghel & Horvath, 2009). Interestingly, 25% of Romanian emigrants said they worked without a contract; 60% of women working in Italy in the care sector did not have work contracts (2012). By 2015, 52% of migrants held positions requiring specialization, and 39% did not have medium or higher education.

In recent years, hundreds of thousands of children have been born abroad. Thus, the birth rate of Romanians living abroad is higher, than the birth rate in the country. Abroad, the rate reached 12.5 per 1,000 inhabitants, while in Romania it was 8.3, in 2014.

The following discussion touches on the positive and negative repercussions of emigration.

Positive repercussions of migration

Transnational remittances for household support

It is considered that emigration, whether temporarily or definitive, has reduced the social tensions in Romania, and especially the over-population in rural areas. Also, Romanian migrants have the right to participate in local elections in the EU countries that host them, sign labor contracts, or hold bank accounts. Transnational remittances are carried out whether migrants intend to remain abroad, or have settled there only temporarily. Some migrants have flexible employment contracts in Italy or Spain or other places. At the level of the locality of origin, with the increased financial flow due to remittances, the local economies substantially increase consumption beyond mere survival.

Remittances have increased since 2004, amounting to 3.3% of GDP in 2008. Calculating the remittances influx is complicated because they run through both specialized institutions (Western Union, Money Gram) and emigrant networks. A peak in the remittances flow was recorded in 2008, with $9.4 billion entering the Romanian economy (Anghel, Botezan, Coşciug, Manafi, Roman, 2016). Most financial resources are destined for consumption and a small part for savings in banks. 50% of consumption is directed towards the needs of households, 37% for real estate and 16% for car purchases. Remittances support local development by solving labor market problems and contribute by reducing the social inequalities (Anghel et al., 2016).

Private investment strategies

After 2002, the construction of houses commissioned by migrants increased. They considered real estate to be safe investments, but the market was overstated between 2005-2008. Other migrants invested in tourist locations, in small and medium-sized agricultural exploitations and agricultural techniques.

Transfer of knowledge

Among the positive effects of migration include those related to the transfer of knowledge. This can be seen in: a) the framework of external economic or educational structures; b) from individuals to an external structure; c) from the external structure to individuals; d) between individuals; e) from individuals to internal structure; and f) from internal structure to individuals.

The transfer within the external culture is concerned with the relationship between customers, suppliers and other partners (creating partnerships and corporate alliances, improving the image of the organization, offering, seminars, user training programs). Knowledge transfer from individuals to the external structure is reserved for customers and suppliers (product promotion and customer education). The transfer of knowledge from the external structure to individuals is meant to increase the performance of the employees. The transfer of knowledge between individuals and the internal structure leads to the modernization of the structures. The transfer of knowledge from the internal structure to individuals means that individuals participate in vocational training activities (Vreja, 2011).

On the other hand, the transfer of technology and knowledge implies a case law on intellectual property rights and the patenting of inventions. Knowledge transfer is a broader concept than technology transfer, which only refers to manufacturing technology (Rânea, Filipoiu, Hadar, Marin, & Badea, 2012). Knowledge transfer is a process of transferring skills, knowledge, technologies, manufacturing methods, and creating facilities between governments, universities, and research centers. Technological transfer serves to create new products or services. Similarly, in the case of technology transfer, as already outlined, knowledge management has the classical functions of forecasting, organization (resources and activities), coordination, training (motivation of the human resource), control, evaluation, and regulation.

Concretely, technology transfer can be achieved through the assignment of intellectual property, generated by technology efficiency or franchise. The technological transfer also involves the process of converting scientific and technological discoveries into sellable goods and services. Technology transfer focuses on the transition from innovation, to the successful marketing of improved products that generate added value. Technological transfer mechanisms are operations that ensure the dissemination of technology from supplier to customer. There are financial, technological and human processes.

We appreciate that technology transfer is determined by setting up new firms, promoting new business, making new products, leadership, market impact, profit, advanced technology, competitive advantage, cost control, access to expertise, development and economic research. Technology is transferred to solve a problem and to create well-being (Rânea et al., 2012). Technology transfer occurs between the source and the adapter, and the transfer takes place over the entire value chain of product development.

In agriculture – the main economic activity in the rural parts of Romania – the transfer of knowledge concerns almost all the competences of the activities, from plant production to animal husbandry. In principle, knowledge transfer is taking place in the larger farms and research stations.

Among other things, the efforts of the president of the Association of Corn Producers in the South of the country, are noticeable. With his participation, partnerships have been established with the European Confederation of Maize Producers since December 2012. In turn, Agrom-Ro benefits from the support of AGROM CH in Switzerland, which is supported by the Swiss government. AGROM-RO started, in 1999. To offer training courses, demonstrations, and seminars in the counties of Mureş, Harghita, Covasna, Braşov, Vaslui. The association is a primarily a provider of training. They are also members of the National Development Network in Romania. The association has implemented the REBIAT program funded by the Swiss government for trade in crops and livestock farmers. They are also partners in the Sustainable Agriculture Models Project in Romania's mountainous area, funded by the Swiss Development and Cooperation Agency and Euromontana-Brussels, the Civitas Foundation and the ADD Wise 2014-2015 Foundation. In turn, the International Research Institute for Agricultural Policy insists that innovation and new agricultural technologies can increase production if it generalizes drip irrigation or pressure, efficient use of nitrogen, using varieties with high tolerance to heat. The FAO proclaimed the 2014 International Year of Family Farms, focusing on biotechnology. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development recommends introducing these practices also in Romania.

The transfer of knowledge and technology is not only meant for agriculture. The effects of these transfers materialize in the raising of the professional level of employees and officials from various spheres of activity, including education or local government. Also, combating the negative aspects of rural society can also be achieved through knowledge transfer. Moreover, the implementation of European strategies and programs have a significant role in raising the level of professional training in rural areas and in modernizing rural society and bringing it closer to the models of Western society.

Cultural effects

Temporary migration provided a context for social learning for Romanians, strengthened their social confidence and participation in civil society activities. Opinion polls indicate the assimilation of modern values of democratic and constitutional governance (Anghel & Horvath, 2009). Indeed, the prior reduced level of civic involvement led to governmental policies elaborated after little and formal debates, and increased tolerance towards the generalized corruption and bribery.

Working abroad also contributes to lifestyle changes. It increases civic engagement, social trust, and tolerance towards minority groups.

Changes in the family are often recorded as well. Often, in transnational families, male migrants have had to recognize women as their equals, in society and family life. There is also a notable strengthening of the critical spirit towards the local authorities.

Many times, the population criticizes the condition of the roads and the lack of modernization in the localities that are financially dependent on the remittances of the migrants. At the same time, there are differences in wealth and income between migrants and non-migrants, accompanied by the restraint of the society and the promotion of new consumption patterns. Unfortunately, local authorities are too seriously involved in their interest networks to encourage migrant investment.


After the outbreak of the financial and economic crisis in the US and the EU (2008), there were registered migrant returns to Romania. Some of the 48,000 Romanian entrepreneurs owning firms in Italy returned home, between 2010-2014.


There is a certain imbalance on the labor market, without many unemployed people, due to high emigration. The high number of Romanian emigrants also indicates that the national economy has a peripheral position on the EU market.

To the question whether emigration causes social harm to transnational families, the study by Anghel et al., (2016), found that one-third of the respondents agreed it does, while slightly less than half disagreed with the statement. Children of migrant families, who are left at home without one, or even both their parents, face many problems during their developemntal years. In 2008, UNICEF estimated that 350,000 children out of 4.4 million live in transnational families. These issues become more serious as migrants postpone marriage and procreation decisions which will worsen the impact of social harm in the long run.

Moreover, international mobility puts pressure on local employers, forcing them to choose between wage growth and bankruptcy, or business closure. The EC draws attention to the fact that critical measures to support apprenticeships must be adopted by the Romanian government, but also policies to encourage skills certification or mobility packages to support the economy of the less desirable regions of the country. Still, the cooperation between public institutions and private employers is underdeveloped. Pilot measures hardly reach the interested young people, with many not being registered for public services.

Under these conditions, the participation of the older workers in the labor market will increase, given that, the elderly dependency ratio will double by 2050. Moreover, national spending on active labor force policies has fallen to 40% since 2004.

After the EU accession, programs to reduce urban-rural gaps have multiplied. CAP funds were obtained, and a Rural Development Program was implemented, supporting the Sustainable Development Program. If the EU had allocated more than 8 billion Euros between 2007-2013, the same amount has been earmarked from 2014 to 2020, geared to increase agricultural productivity, encourage small farms, increase the added value of agricultural products, create jobs, and make rural development worthwhile. However, domestic and unpaid work continues to account for 60% of rural employment, with today's employment accounting for 39%. At the same time, prospects for agricultural modernization are also anemic due to property fragmentation (over 3.2 million farms) or limited access to credit lines. The state needs to stimulate the association of farmers and perhaps create an agricultural lending fund.

Poverty affects 50% of the mass of rural inhabitants (it is only 28% in cities), and it feeds emigration. 80% of the beneficiaries of social assistance are from rural areas. The rural population has a significant share of the informal economy and little participation in the contributory pension system. Moreover, the low level of training in the countryside makes it harder to develop the human capital. In 2012-2013, only 22% of second-chance learners came from rural areas. In 2013, 5% of rural youth graduated from faculties (20% in urban areas). On the other hand, one out of three rural children drop out of school before the ninth grade, and rural schools hardly provide standard specialist services. It is also known that the countryside also suffers from mediocre health services, which are vital for the aging workforce (60% of the beneficiaries of direct payments for agriculture are over 60 years old). Health insurance only covers 78% of the population and emigrants are forced to support their relatives more seriously.

Moreover, the departure of tens of thousands of physicians outwards is due to be among the most serious vulnerabilities generated by emigration. State aid to prepare physicians and qualified staff is lost. Also, medical professionals tend to move permanently outward, so their remittances are less important for the economy of the country of origin. The brain drain of the medical staff may also translate into increasing the infant mortality rate, and even the adult mortality rate. Adverse demographic effects should be added to the already depopulated rural areas, deserted villages, and abandoned the agricultural land. There are also conservative rural spaces, which, although having a rural exodus, maintain their relative demographic vitality, for example in northeastern Moldova and northern Transylvania. A certain demographic balance is ensured in the interstitial rural areas with temporary bidirectional migration (Transylvania, Banat). Favored are, of course, the peri-urban areas (Dumitriu, 2013). The uneven diffusion of the techniques that lead to the insertion of rural areas into the national and international exchange circuit, which materializes in different degrees of equipping agricultural holdings, also counts. Isolated and partially insulated spaces are disadvantaged.

On the other hand, the changes caused by the contemporary urbanization of the rural population have positive effects in eliminating overpopulation and illiteracy. However, the most developed are peri-urban communities. We cannot ignore the brain drain towards the West; over 200,000 university graduates left Romania after 1990, and the temporary settling of tens of thousands of physicians and middle-class medical staff in the West. At the same time, very serious gaps have been created in the national labor market.

On a broader scale, since natality in Romania has diminished, so too has the size of the workforce. We emphasize that over 10% of Romanians work abroad (Roman, Voicu, 2010). The tendency to remain definitive in the destination countries is a part of the future of Romania. Emigration countries are increasingly confronted with the aging process of the population, and thus, with the diminishing economic and social growth rate.

Among the main factors that discourage migrants' investment in Romania are not the lack of financial resources or the lack of an entrepreneurial spirit, but the bureaucratic obstacles, cumbersome and discretionary procedures, and the corruption in Romania. That is why the number of emigrants who do not want to return to the country has increased.

The migration of the rural labor force into the interior or abroad can have severe negative consequences in rural and territorial terms. The departure of the young and adult population may reduce the capacity of rural communities to support themselves economically and financially. Today only 1,500-1,800 communes have the real capacity to be supported by their population and some villages have been practically depopulated.

Migration processes contribute, together with other transformations in the Romanian society, to the amplification of the competition for providing conditions for development between the areas of Romania. A similar competition will continue to manifest itself between the Romanian and European provinces.

Problem Statement

The research of the Romanian post-Decemberist migration phenomenon is essential for the interested entities both inside the country and from abroad. The short and medium-term effects of international migration, on the one hand, and long-term ones, on the other hand, are of interest to the political factors in Romania, the countries of destination and to those of Bruxelles.

Concerning the countries of destination, there is the issue of the immigration tolerance threshold, from both social and economic perspectives. At the same time, there are problems integrating immigrants, due to economic limitations, cultural differences, as well as the lack of necessary qualifications of a significant part of immigrants coming from Romania. In many such countries of destination, especially in Spain, there are already severe problems with integrating young people into the labor market. Hence, questions arise as to what jobs the Romanians will find and how they will integrate.

For Romania, especially in rural areas, the massive exodus poses high risks regarding the socio-economic development of half the country's population. With what workforce can the development programs supported by the EU and the Romanian State be implemented, since the young labor force migrates either to urban areas or abroad? How can local entrepreneurs engage these young people when they have to deal with the wage competition of Western employers?

Thirdly, the most pessimistic scenario calls into question the very existence of rural areas in the future, which would represent a terrible lose, being an essential part of the identity of the Romanian people. However, through social research, we can identify the social and economic problems specific to the rural environment and then create new measures, or even adapt the existing ones, to remedy the series of factors pushing people away from their homes, and hopefully, we can manage to retain more Romanians in the rural areas of the country.

Research Questions

Based on the theories explaining the phenomenon of migration through the push and pull factors our field research focused on the following questions:

  • What are the main directions of labor migration in the Romanian rural areas?

  • What are the main socio-economic effects of labor migration in Romanian rural areas?

  • What is the influence of demographic variables on the intensity of push and pull factors?

  • What are the preferred means of communication within migration networks?

    • What is the respondents' attitude towards migration?

    • What is the attitude of the respondents on the effects of migration?

Purpose of the Study

This study, on the one hand, aims to record the latest changes in the dynamic of the Romanian international migration from the countryside, and on the other hand, to review its main socio-economic effects in the Romanian countryside.

Research Methods

The push and pull migration factors can be divided into: a) socio-economic (places and working conditions, salary levels, remittances); b) policies (legislative framework, ethnic, cultural, or religious persecution, wars); c) environmental (climate change); d) ethnic (linguistic, employment facilitation moreover, expansion of social capital, access to citizenship and rights and other opportunities); e) cultural (migration takes place between countries with a similar or related cultural identity). A sociological inquiry was, therefore, deemed appropriate to measure the above. The main objectives of the research are the analysis of the push-pull factors, destinations, attitudes, and of the migration networks.

The sociological research was conducted in March 2017, and the target population was the rural residents of Romania. A self-administered questionnaire was distributed to a representative sample at the national level for rural residents with Internet access.

The volume of the sample was 249 persons, over 18 years of age. The sampling error is +/- 6% with a 95% confidence level. The sample was established in a non-aleatory manner using quotas; 75% of respondents come from the Research Romania panel, while the rest responded to our Facebook and Google AdWords advertising campaigns; weighting of the final results on the population distribution at the national level in the rural areas by gender, region, and age.


Favoured destinations

The main EEA (European Economic Area) destinations are (in the order of importance given by the respondents): Italy, Spain, Germany, France, United Kingdom, Greece, Austria, Portugal, Belgium, Finland, Slovenia, Iceland, Cyprus, Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, Hungary, Ireland, Sweden, Malta, Poland, and Estonia.

Most economically developed nations

The most developed countries in the EEA are in respondents' perception (in the order of their preference): Germany, Austria, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Norway, Spain, Denmark, Holland, Sweden, Liechtenstein, Portugal, Croatia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Greece, and Latvia.


In Table 01 we notice that most respondents feel that emigrants’ families live better due to remittances, while transnational families, with children, face specific difficulties managing the day-to-day family life. Also, depending on remittances can be a problem, since people who benefit from them directly tend not to work (some even receive social aid on top of the remittances). The effects of emigration in the origin society are also quite visible to our respondents (5 out of 10 versus 2 out of 10). Also, 4 out of 10 people (versus 2 out of 10) agree that emigration influenced knowledge, habits, principles and values, beliefs and the social order.

Table 1 -
See Full Size >

Intensity of push pull factors

The intensity of the push-pull factors can vary depending on demographic variables. Our data (Figure 01 ) suggest they are more powerful for people living in the South-West, South, and South-East development regions, rather than those living in Bucharest-Ilfov and West. Furthermore, the factors have a more noticeable influence on women, than on men, because of the rural patriarchal society, and the evolution of the labor market after the 2008 Crisis. Regarding the group ages, 18-25, 26-35, and 46-55 are more prone to being affected, while 55+, and 36-45 are a little less. Education also plays a role; respondents with superior studies being less vulnerable than those who only have high school or gymnasium education. While we measure the push-pull factors together, it is important to notice that their effects are not equal, for instance, people from South-West are most affected by push factors (72 out of 100 in intensity), while being only moderately attracted by the presumed benefits of the destination countries (62 out of 100 in intensity). Of course, this can be explained by geographical vicinity and the availability of migration networks.

Figure 1: Intensity of push-pull factors in relation to demographic variables
Intensity of push-pull factors in relation to demographic variables
See Full Size >

Modes of communication

To communicate with their friends and family from abroad, our respondents use (in the order of importance given by the respondents): phone, Facebook, Email, WhatsApp, SMS, face to face, and

blogs. 9 out of 10 know people who live abroad, 5 out of 10 have family there, and 9 out of 10 communicate with their family or acquaintances.

Beliefs regarding migration

In terms of their feelings towards migration, in order of importance, respondents believe that young people emigrate; migration brings prosperity; the effects are negative for the origin country; migration networks are essential for a successful migration; emigrants become more respected in their communities; and there are no attractive economic opportunities in the source country.

Migration history

Regarding their migration history, 3 out of 10 study participants have taken part in internal migration, 2 out of 10 in international migration, and 3 out of 10 have tried to emigrate, but without managing to. Most failed attempts occur in cases related to migration to Germany, Spain, France, and Italy, with the main reason being financial.

Intention to migrate

Concerning the intention to migrate, 42% stated that they wish to emigrate, and 20% have taken concrete steps towards achieving their goal.

Returning to country of origin

On the topic of migration return, 7 out of 10 respondents know migrants who returned (on

average they know 6 people who returned). 6 out of 10 know a returned migrant who opened a business in their village (on average the respondents know 2 such people). Most return to reunite with their significant others, and to take care of their children.

Some of the limitations of this study involved the fact that the sample is representative only of the people with Internet access (around 60% in rural areas in Romania), and the educational profile of our respondents is not representative for the rural population.

Conclusion and Implications

The impact of migration on rural labor is considerable, both on a quantitative and on a qualitative level. The lack of jobs and opportunities for professional development in the country and the possibility of earning money abroad remain the main motivations of emigration.

Most worrying is the emergence of an emigration culture in the most vulnerable areas and social groups. Migration is for our respondents a risk management strategy, and the social networks are catalysts of migration. The data underscore the importance of entrepreneurship of returning migrants, even if this is rare.

Children of transnational families who have remained home encounter specific problems (educational, emotional, behavioral), which the authorities must address with greater conviction.

The results of the push-pull factors analysis need to be further researched to counter their influence in the most affected areas and groups. The authorities need to tackle the push factors to address the causes of emigration.

Also, more attention needs to be paid to immigration policy, which can be a solution for the lack of workforce in the country.


Copyright information

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

About this article

Publication Date

18 December 2019

eBook ISBN



Future Academy



Print ISBN (optional)


Edition Number

1st Edition




Politics, government, European Union, European institutions

Cite this article as:

Zodian, S. A., & Candoi-Savu, R. A. (2019). The Latest Trends And Socio-Economic Effects Of Migration In The Romanian Countryside. In V. Regec, Z. Bekirogullari, M. Y. Minas, & R. X. Thambusamy (Eds.), Political Science, International Relations and Sociology - ic-PSIRS 2018, vol 37. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 1-20). Future Academy.