Friday, 12 February 2021

Croatian Emigration Rate Second Highest in European Union

February the 12th, 2021 - The fact that certain parts of Croatia, particularly Eastern Croatia, have been gradually emptying for years as the economic situation grows worse and job opportunities become more scarce, isn't something new. That trend only got worse as Croatia entered the EU in July 2013, and the Croatian emigration rate is now the second worst in the entire EU.

As Novac/Kristina Turcin writes, in the period from 2015 to 2019, the population of Croatia, according to official Eurostat data, decreased by 4.26 inhabitants per 1,000 citizens only due to the concerning Croatian emigration rate, which is the second largest decline in population through migration in the European Union: only Lithuania, which is worse, lost 5.04 inhabitants for every 1000 inhabitants in the same period.

This worrisome data unequivocally indicates that the economic prosperity of one country within the EU has a key impact on the decisions of residents to leave one country or move to another. For this reason, the territory of the European Union is one of the most attractive for immigrants from all over the world, but within the Union itself, despite all efforts, the differences between nations and their people are still vast and people from poorer countries continue to migrate with very little barriers placed in front of them to richer ones.

Economic crisis

Such a trend was particularly present in post-socialist countries in the first years after joining the EU, particularly in the early 2000s. In the last observed five-year period, only five EU countries had a negative migration rate, ie the number of emigrants was higher than the number of immigrants. These are Bulgaria, Romania, Latvia, Croatia and Lithuania. All other member states had a higher number of immigrants than the number of emigrants, and at the top of the scale are of course the countries with the best economic indicators, such as Luxembourg, whose net migration rate was 17, which means that for every 1,000 citizens it had 17 more immigrants than it did emigrants.

That very same pattern, which was shown by the calculations of Dr. Ivan Cipin and Dr. Petra Medjimurec from the Department of Demography at the Faculty of Economics in Zagreb, is present within Croatia and in the Croatian emigration rate: the correlation between economic prosperity, measured through GDP per capita, and net migration rates for each county is indisputable, it was, as stated, also particularly strong in the first years after Croatia's initial accession to the EU in the summer of 2013.

''There's no doubt that the economic development of a particular area is one of the most important, if not the most important, factor of emigration,'' explained Dr. Cipin.

According to the analysis they made, in the years of the strongest economic crisis in Croatia, the stronger the Croatian emigration rate grew. As expected, this primarily involved those from poorer counties. For example, back in 2012, the most negative net migration rate was in Pozega-Slavonia County, which, in that year, lost 11 inhabitants per 1,000 inhabitants exclusively due to emigration, either abroad or to other Croatian counties. At the same time, it was one of the three counties with the lowest GDP per capita - the GDP of that county was, for comparison, more than three times lower than the GDP of the City of Zagreb. That year, however, the six (richest) counties had a positive net migration rate, ie the number of immigrants was higher than the number of emigrants.

However, the explosion of emigration started in 2013 - the year in which Croatia finally joined the European Union, and peaked in 2017 when, for example, the net migration rate for Vukovar-Srijem County, whose GDP per capita was also among the lowest, was 35, and only two counties, Istria and the City of Zagreb, had a positive rate. Virovitica-Podravina and Pozega-Slavonia counties, which a year earlier had the lowest GDP per capita, had net migration rates of -20 and -25, respectively.

Regional inequalities

''When the borders opened up to Croatia following July 2013's accession to the EU, the differences in economic development reached special levels in terms of migration statistics. Slavonia and the area around Sisak faced the worst situation. These parts of the country, ie the surplus of emigration, have been a big issue for Croatia for some time now, which, due to the departure of the younger and more active part of the population, leads to a further reduction of GDP per capita and inequalities therefore only increase. I'm afraid that without targeted EU intervention, it will no longer be possible to reverse the trend: we have counties where, partly due to emigration, the average age of the general population is already approaching 50, and they still have negative net migration, which is an unpromising indicator,'' explained Dr. Cipin.

Combating poverty and regional disparities is one of the main goals of the European Union, but the set goal of reducing the number of people at risk of poverty by 20 million by 2020 has unfortunately not been achieved. On the contrary, inequalities between and within member states have only further increased, and the concerning Croatian emigration rate is just one aspect which speaks volumes about it.

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Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Croatian Demographic Crisis: Half a Million Workers Now Gone

Croatia has lost half a million workers in the last decade alone. Without foreign workers and with the state of the Croatian demographic crisis, at least according to the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK), we simply cannot go on.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 15th of January, 2020, half a million workers have left Croatian territory in the last ten years. We knew that the shortage of workers in Croatia was a dire and alarming situation, but the rally at the Croatian Chamber of Commerce in Rijeka was now backed up by extremely worriyng figures, writes local Rijeka portal rijecanin.rtl.hr.

Measures to curb the negative trend were also presented, and one of the most important economic measures was the total abolition of quotas for foreign workers.

Despite the chronic shortage of workers, this will not be felt here in season. Aware of the situation, the owner of an Opatija restaurant, Stipe Dunatov, prepared himself on time.

"Recently I was in Dubai, interviewing twenty people, they are mostly from Pakistan and India and they're ready to come to Croatia. They're ready to come to the EU to work. Nine people are coming here to work for me, I'm opening a new Japanese restaurant and fourteen people will work there,'' Dunatov says, clearly doing all he can to avoid the effects of the ongoing Croatian demographic crisis.

"In the past ten years, from 2008 to 2018, Croatia has lost 500,000 people in the working contingent, 200,000 naturally, meaning the aging of the population, leaving the working contingent and inflow of children into the working contingent, and about 300,000 have been lost to migration," emphasised Davorko Vidović, a counse;lor for Labour Policy and Employment at CCE.

The plan is to include people in the labour market and prevent emigration, and the Croatian Employment Service is also involved in funding through the European Social Fund.

“We expect about 25,000 new people to be included in 2020. Looking at the three-year period, we can say that a total of over 126,000 people have gone through the system of active employment policy measures,'' says Ante Lončar, Director of the Croatian Employment Service.

About 40,000 foreigners (non-EU) worked in Croatia last year, and 65,000 permits were issued for that purpose. From the middle of this year, there will be no more quotas. However, the tourist season has to be prepared for, because the paperwork takes about two months to process owing to the unutterably slow system and the ever-lagging MUP.

The shortage of workers, according to the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, is not a temporary problem that will disappear. Foreign labour is what awaits Croatia in the future.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for more on the Croatian demographic crisis.

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Croatian Demographic Crisis: Novigrad Podravski Experiencing Baby Boom

The Croatian demographic crisis is continuing to bite and its grip is becoming tighter in many areas, with the labour force being one of the most pressing issues caused by the country's increasingly poor demographic outlook. Still, in some areas, such as Novigrad Podravski in continental Croatia, more babies are being born as demographic measures are employed in hope of persuading families to stay.

As Novac writes on the 14th of January, 2020, the municipality of Novigrad Podravski finally welcomed a real ''baby boom'' in 2019 after years of extremely poor demographics. Given the Croatian demographic crisis which has spread far from the region of Slavonia, where there have been major issues for a long time, to the rest of the country, Novigrad Podravski's Zdravko Brljek has reason to be pleased.

As was announced on the municipality's website, a total of 165,000 kuna was paid out to parents residing in the municipality for the births of their newborn children in 2019, local portal Podravski reports.

Since the individual amount per child is 5,000 kuna, it can be seen that the money had been paid out to the parents of 33 newborns, two of whom are twins.

''I'm pleased that we were financially able to pay 5,000 kuna per child to parents within less than five working days of the request having been received,'' said Brljek.

He also recalled the fact that in a local primary school in Novigrad Podravski, fifteen students enrolled in the first grade back in 2016, fifteen students enrolled in 2017, a further fifteen students enrolled in 2018, and then nineteen students enrolled last year.

''This year has greatly improved the municipal demographic. I hope that most of these young people will stay in our municipality and that as many young people as possible come back here or move here,'' Brljek concluded.

Unfortunately, the demographic picture regarding newborns in Koprivnica-Križevci County, in which Novigrad Podravski is situated, is otherwise not so positive and reflects the overall Croatian demographic crisis accurately.

Namely, in 2019, according to data from the aforementioned county, 866 children were born, which is fifteen less than one year before when 881 children were born. Thus, the positive trend that started in 2018 compared to 2017 when 860 children were born came to a halt once again.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more on the Croatian demographic crisis.

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