Almost 3 million people left the country since 2000 when the population was 22.1 million to 19.2 million in 2020, this leading to a major economical and sociological phenomenon in Romania. The main reason for emigration among the Romanians is given by the need for employment, followed by the desire for good and proper education. Moreover, even though they leave for work, only one in seven emigrants said they had been offered a job before they left the country.
Among the countries that Romanians mostly choose to leave is Italy (over 1 million), followed by Germany (680,000) and Spain (573,000). These three European countries only host more than 62 percent of all Romanian emigrants. The next countries are the UK, the US, Hungary, France, and Canada. “There have been significant changes to Romanian emigration patterns since the early 2000s. Romanians had increasing access to mobility opportunities as Romania sought closer ties with the European Union. The accession of Romanians to the EU in 2007 represented a turning point,” an OECD research says.
The economic impact of migration in Romania states that “Every year, the Romanian emigrants who work abroad send money that manages to ameliorate the living standards of millions of people all around Romania. Also, this has led to an explosion in the construction sector and the construction tools’ market, it increased the number of cars and it raised consumption.”
The number of young Romanians who want to move abroad is high, a situation created by the low-quality employment offered to this section.
On the other hand, almost 90 percent of the emigrants feel like they cannot reach their full potential in the countries they moved in, as their abilities and skills are not as demanded as they should be. Moreover, half of the Romanians who went to college and now live broad have a big chance of working in low-skilled jobs that would not increase their potential.
There are also some positive aspects regarding the emigration of Romanian citizens, such as the lower unemployment rate, given the fact that unemployed people go abroad, the level being now at 8%. Furthermore, the number of people asking for education and health is rising, and the access to these services is more available, given the fact that the money sent home by the emigrants are used by the families that remained here. Plus, from an economic point of view, there is a higher demand for long term investments, making the remittance (money sent home by emigrants) around € 9 billion a year.
In opposition, the negative aspects affect the economy and the social structure of the population, as the population becomes older, given the emigration of the young citizens. Secondly, this leads to the departure of skilled labor, which directly and mainly affects the country’s medical field, as well as the construction, furniture, and tourism industry.
An example of a Romanian citizen, who has spent most of his life away from his family, is Florin, 46, who has been working in Germany for almost 20 years. He returned home for Christmas, as he does every year, for a few weeks that turned into months because of the COVID-19 crisis. Although the borders opened, Florin did not go back. “I stayed here, initially because of my wife. She no longer agrees for me to leave, but also because I found a workplace in the construction field.” When asked if the pay gap makes it more difficult for him to live here, he said yes. “I noticed that it pays well, especially that employers would pay as much as they have to, now that they can’t find people willing to work. Money does not compare with those I used to get there, but my wife and I are doing well, especially since she also started working.” Florin left, like most Romanians, to offer a better life for his family, and suitable education for their children. The stress of leaving also brought him an untreatable illness, but that did not stop him from continuing to do the same for two decades. He and his wife found work in their native village, Frumosu, which was easy to do, because, during the summer, this was almost empty, as all its inhabitants would go abroad.
Gabi, a 48-year-old woman who returned from Italy for the same reason, said with tears in her eyes that it is very difficult for her at home, not necessarily because of money, but because she misses her husband and her boy, who work in France. Their house remained empty for most of the year, but now only Gabi lives in it, going through what all those who are left behind go through when their loved ones leave in search of a better life. She, like Florin and his wife, has found a job at a restaurant in the area, as of kitchen help, and will start as soon as the doors open. “I know that he (the owner) does not pay well and can be mean to the employees, but it is a stable job. Maybe I’ll convince my husband and son to come home too. We are old, money doesn’t really matter anymore. I just want us to be together.”
Another example is Vasile, who worked as a driver for most of his life, and left for the same reason as the others: a better life for his wife and daughter. Over time, his body was affected, and he had several surgeries, but that did not stop him from continuing. Even during the pandemic, Vasile continued to work, ignoring the danger: “Well, we need the money. My wife, although on paid medical leave, receives very little money, and my daughter cannot work during this period either. I was careful, and I didn’t come home, to protect them.” When asked if it was difficult for him, he replied with sadness that it was “Especially because I’ve been on the road longer than usual, and I’ve been kept at many checkpoints for days, but I understand why.” Vasile is one of the people we should be grateful for because thanks to him we had food supplements and products in supermarkets.
Moreover, due to the fact that most of those who have left so far, could not, or chose not to do so anymore, a small wood processing factory has opened in the village, where almost 20 people work. Most of them are young and ended up working there because they could not go abroad, where they would have also worked in construction. When asked if they wanted to return, some of them said yes, that they got used to the lifestyle there, the conditions and most of their friend being left there, while others said that although the money and life here do not compare with the life there, if they had a stable workplace, they would stay here, at home, with their families without thinking twice.