Eastern Europe’s wave of emigration may have crested

Article in The Economist
25 August, 2017

Facilitating mobility goes both ways. Allow people to easily come and go, and indeed they will. Only people in the Global North entertain the fantasy that the whole Global South wants to emigrate to the North.

“From 1992 to 2015, so many people left eastern Europe that its population shrank by 18m, or about 6%, according to UN figures. The trend accelerated as the region’s countries entered the European Union. It was a sour turn for the EU’s new members: rather than making them as rich as western Europe, accession lured their workers to move there…

Yet there are signs that it may already be ending. Thriving economies, rising wages and low costs of living seem to be drawing more émigrés home…

And there is another reason: a sense of patriotic optimism. Tomas Melisko, a Slovak who earned his law degree in Britain, gave up a banking job in Vienna in 2015 to work as a real-estate consultant in Bratislava. Besides being closer to friends and family, he feels that “by coming back I bring the skills I have accumulated, and give back to society”. Westerners worried that eastern Europeans will continue to flood westwards should keep in mind that many of them love their countries, too.”

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