The Croatian Diaspora

More Croats Emigrated in the Last 8 Years than in 46 Years of Yugoslavia

More Croats Emigrated in the Last 8 Years than in 46 Years of Yugoslavia
Image: Total Croatia News

January 15, 2022 - The census results were released this week, with most seeking explanations for the large number of Croats who have left the country in recent years. In a separate study, it is confirmed that more Croats emigrated in the last 8 years than during Yugoslav times.

Based on estimates by Croatian diplomatic missions and consular offices, Croatian Catholic missions, and censuses in countries where Croatian emigrants and their descendants reside, until a few years ago it was estimated that about 3,200,000 Croatian emigrants and their children live outside Croatia, reports

The largest Croatian diaspora is currently in the United States: about 1,200,000 people. There are about half a million of them in Germany, and about a quarter of a million in Australia, Canada, and Argentina. About 200,000 Croats live in Chile, about 100,000 in New Zealand, about 90,000 in Austria, 80,000 in Switzerland, 70,000 in Brazil, 60,000 in Italy, and about 40,000 in France, the same number in Sweden, and about 25,000 in Ireland… These are just the countries with the most Croats, tens of thousands or fewer live scattered around the world.

More Croats emigrated in the past 8 years than in the time of Yugoslavia, where in a period of 46 years, about 350,000 Croats emigrated to Western Europe. In the past eight years, more than 370,000 emigrated from the finally free, sovereign, and European Croatia. This migrant paradox was pointed out by dr. sc. Tado Jurić from the Department of History of the Croatian Catholic University. He recently conducted an important study in Germany, "Emigrants' Perceptions of Croatia", which identified huge differences between former waves of emigrants, with a strong tendency to return, and the modern exodus, with the intention to leave everything behind.

"Emigrants used to use every opportunity to visit their homeland. Today, many, unfortunately, are no longer interested in their own country: before, only three percent of them said they would stay in Germany forever, and now there is more than 45 percent. In the past, 80 percent of Croatian migrants wanted to return, while now it is only 15 percent of the Croats living in Germany'', Jurić warned in his study. The paradox is all the greater that the former emigrants, as a rule, did not have their own real estate in their homeland, and the current ones usually have it. Once upon a time, their primary goal was to save in order to achieve something in their homeland: build a house or buy a car or a tractor. Today's emigrants leave all their homeland fields and estates and often live in German modest rooms.

Throughout history, Croatia has always been a country of emigration: it witnessed large waves of emigrants across the Atlantic on the eve of World War I, then from 1918 to World War II, then immediately after World War II and after 1965, when Western European countries were most preferred. After the 1990s, Croats mostly emigrated to Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Ireland, Canada, the USA, Australia, and New Zealand.

The already mentioned scientist Dr. Tado Jurić in his latest scientific study "Are we losing Croatia" showed that unemployment or inability to find a suitable job in Croatia are not the main motives for current emigration, but primarily injustice, the immorality of political elites, legal uncertainty, nepotism, and corruption. Pushing factors from Croatia are much stronger in modern young people than the objectively more attractive elements of life abroad.

It is unlikely that there will be a greater return of new Croatian emigrants, because the reasons why they do not want to return are the same and have not changed for years in relation to what drove them from their homeland, concluded Dr. Jurić. An unjust society and the so-called captive state, corruption, weak institutions, nepotism, and clientelism are stably immobile in Croatia, so in their decision to live elsewhere, in a more orderly and just society, they are equally firm and immovable.

To learn more about the Croatian diaspora, be sure to check our dedicated section.