Human Capital: Impact of migration on Belarusian economy and society

BISS presents the study by Andrei Yeliseyeu made under the aegis of the Consortium for Applied Research on International Migration CARIM East.

Based on the previous studies by Belarusian and foreign experts and  available statistical data, the following conclusions are made:

■ Official statistics for external net migration rate and labour migrants have been distorted by poor migration accounting, while political considerations have deterred some academic institutions from taking a more critical approach. Officially Belarus' net migration since independence has been positive, but alternative studies beg to differ. The goal of 'improving the net migration rate to 60.000' in the National Programme on the Demographic Security of the Republic of Belarus (2011-2015) is unrealistic.

■ External migration is negative in demographic terms in quantitative but also in qualitative terms as emigrants are, on average, younger and better educated, while immigrants are less-skilled, with a larger proportion of people past working age. Since 2008, the pool of labour resorces has been gradually diminishing. The share of people below working age has been falling while the share of those above working age has risen. Thus unfavourable demograhic trends in terms of population loss and age distortion are aggravated by external migration.

■ Lower wages compared to other countries of the region, inadequate social protection provided for the unemployed and poorly functioning labour market with a limited availability of jobs have encouraged temporary labour migration. This migration is typically directed toward neighbouring Russia. The actual figure of Belarus' labour migrants to Russia assessed to be 100,000-300,000 people, although official statistics c aptures just s small share of them.Labour migrants to Russian have a somewhat lower educational level than the average for the Belarusian labour force, while emigrants to the Western countries are, on average, of a much higher educational level.

■ With all the negative economic impact in terms of human capital loss and demographic impact in terms of population reduction and age distortion that permanent external migration implies, temporary labour migration has an ambigous economic impact. It contributes to the deficit in some sectors (e.g., construction, trasnportation) due to the labour migration to Russia. But it also eases unemployment and provides remittances from the migrants to their communities. Besides, temporary labour migrants acuire additional work experience and skills abroad that they can use in Belarus upon arrival to their home country.

The study can be found here