30 Oct 2012

EC Study ‘Social Impact of Emigration and Rural-Urban Migration in Central and Eastern Europe’

In June 2012 the DG Employment, social affairs, and inclusion published a study “Social Impact of Emigration and Rural-Urban Migration in Central and Eastern Europe” that analyze the social impact of international and internal migration in Central and Eastern Europe in the past two decades.

The study focuses on the effects of migration on labour markets, human resource development, poverty and social exclusion and social cohesion. The study researches were carried out between November 2010 and April 2012 and it produced: a synthesis report, an executive summary and 25 extensive country reports.

The 25 eastern European countries have been grouped in clusters: EU Member states, Candidate Countries and Potential Candidates, and Eastern Partnership Countries. The report also discusses the impact of migration on different vulnerable groups such as children, elderly, Roma and post-conflict IDPs and returning refugees.

In this comprehensive study where the issue of the children left behind by migrant parents is also dealt with, the Network childrenleftbehind.eu is not only mentioned but is among the main information sources.

Although the phenomenon of the children left behind is widespread in the eastern countries affected by migration, especially female migration, it is still understated. The data recollected, thanks to childrenleftbehind.eu Network and the European Commission study, although uncertain, says that there are 500,000 children in Europe that live without one or both migrant parents. From the study emerges that the most affected country is Romania with 350,000 children (UNICEF 2007), followed by Poland where the number of children that experienced separation has been estimated to be around 1.1-1.6 million even if the 40% of them experienced separations for less than two months. In Lithuania estimated data point out that children left behind are 9,500, moreover a survey o the Office of the Ombudsman on Children’s Rights (2007) showed that 5% of children aged under 18 has one parent living abroad. Finally in Latvia, although no research has been carried out at national level, social assistants and NGO representatives speak out that that there are thousands children affected by parents labour migration.

Thanks to existing local studies, the publication evidences that children left behind suffer emotional impact due lack of parental care, especially the one with both parents abroad, reflected in lower school achievement, school dropout, youth criminality, alcoholism and psychological problems.

The study provides a in-depth description of the existing policy responses to the social impacts of migration on vulnerable groups and finally points out the challenges and suggests the directions that countries involved should implement to face the current situation properly.

In the Country Reports the study considers the main emigration trends and patterns, analyzes the labor market and the impact of migration on vulnerable groups and the policies implemented by governments as well as suggestions for the future. The European commission finally recommends that the European structural fund for the period 2014-2020 should be oriented towards social inclusion of the vulnerable groups.