Mass emigration of Albanians, 38 percent of the population lives abroad

 The demographic decline in Albania has been going on for three decades, after the fall of the communist regime, a time when Albanians lived in isolation and could not emigrate. The main component is immigration and fertility that has fallen by 65% ​​since 1990. While the population of Albania, due to emigration, lacks today about 1 million 112 thousand inhabitants or about 38.8% of the current population.

Officials are not concerned about immigration as they say they are trying to create an economic zone in the region for the movement of capital, goods, and people. Experts, on the other hand, criticize the lack of job markets for young people and the removal of skilled people from the country, as VOA reports.

There is an ongoing debate in Albania about the demographic developments of the last three decades. According to the Albanian Institue of Statistics 9 (AIS), Albania's (resident) population is over 2 million and 850 thousand.

A United Nations (UN) report published recently said that by the most pessimistic forecast, by 2100 Albania would have 18% of the current population and 66% by the optimistic forecast. Officials explain that the UN forecast is limited in terms of accuracy.

"It should be clear that even the authors of this report, at the beginning of the publication, explain the limitations of this publication, which has been in place since 1960. In general, the figures globally turn out to be fair, in terms of projection. , when it comes to populations that have a small number, as is the case for our country, they have accuracy problems.” says Milva Ekonomi to VOA, the Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Economy.

Instead, forecasts for the population go up to 2061 and the mid-term scenario predicts that Albania will have 73% of the current population. Demographic experts say there is no room for concern in the long run.

Mass emigration of Albanians, 38 percent of the population lives abroad

“Projections are made taking into account past birth rates, past mortality rates and immigration. These projections are based on the fact that they have maintained the same levels of these three phenomena. And so these forecasts come up with some scary, unrealistic figures for the long run," says Arjan Gjonçaj, professor of demography at London School of Economics in England.

In the '70s/80's  Albania had the highest population growth in Europe, with 2% per annum, while currently, the growth is negative with -0.35%. Albania's population has shrunk by 15% since 1989 when it had about 3,300,000 inhabitants. The components that affect population growth or decline are births, deaths, and immigration. In the case of Albania emigration is the main factor of contraction.

Demographers say Albania ranks first in Europe for mass immigration. Director of the Center for Economic and Social Studies Ilir Gedeshi says that one study noted the tendency of young people and qualified people to leave.

“Our study showed that there are more people that want to emigrate from Albania, people with higher education and highly qualified. Whereas in 2007 there were the unemployed, the poor, the unskilled and the uneducated who wanted to emigrate. "

Officials have analyzed these concerns regarding the emigration of qualified and have this approach to the situation.

"Of course that Albanians with bright minds will not have in Albania, but on the other hand will come with people of this kind. Because what are we looking to accomplish? We are seeking to do what is called a regional economic zone, where besides EU integration, the Western Balkan countries also have an opportunity to move the capital of the services and goods.” said Milva Ekonomi, Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Economy.

According to the monitoring of the Center for Economic and Social Studies, it is noticed that the potential emigration of young people is high.

“The potential emigration of students studying in public and private universities in Albania is quite high, about 79%. If we look at the Albanian students currently studying abroad, 94% of them do not want to return to the country,” says Mr. Ilir Gedeshi.

Some students told VOA that their impetus to the West is the lack of a job market mainly for new branches and corruption.

"While we are living in a country where there is a lot of corruption, I don't think the future for us students is very big here," says Zeraldina Aliu, student.

"The branch I study in economic engineering is new, and I don't think there can be many job opportunities once I finish my studies," said Mario Spano, a student at the Polytechnic University of Tirana.

Experts believe emigration will continue as long as the country's economic and social development is unstable, and this is also evidenced by the figures of Albanian asylum seekers in the European Union, about 178,000 in the 2010 - 2018 period.

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama does not see with concern the demographic decline and emigration of Albanians.

"Obviously people's escape has its problems, but whoever says that the movement is related to the government, understands nothing or is sneaky. Albanians have left and will leave, have come and will come, what do we want Enver Hoxha's bunker? According to Eurostat, 155,000 Albanians have returned in the last four years.

One of the main concerns of experts relates to births that have fallen by 65% ​​since 1990 when there were 82,000 births a year. The number of children for a woman of childbearing age is 1.37 and has been below the 2.1 level required for 19 years to maintain the population.

Government measures to stimulate births through the bonus of babies are considered by experts to be insufficient.

"Population growth policies should focus primarily on improving women's emancipation in Albania, on improving working conditions, on policies related to workplace and family equality," says Arjan Gjonçaj, a professor at demographic at the London School of Economics in England.

The decline in fertility is a concern for all countries in the EU and the Balkan region, as it is below the 2.1 renewal level. Albania is below the EU average of 1.55%.

Another worrying phenomenon relates to the natural population growth or otherwise the birth rate and death rate dropped by 89% compared to 1990 when the population grew by 64,000 people a year. But although Albania has a positive natural population surplus, this surplus does not predominate over immigration, so population growth is negative.

The problem of demographic decline is a phenomenon that has also affected the countries of Central Europe and the Balkans. Many leaders in these countries have embraced and stepped up efforts to increase birth rates and promote employment policies. The third census will be held in Albania this year, after the fall of communism. Experts see it as an opportunity to study demographic issues and develop the necessary policies in this regard.
Mass emigration of Albanians, 38 percent of the population lives abroad Mass emigration of Albanians, 38 percent of the population lives abroad Friday, February 28, 2020 Rating: 5
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