How many Ukrainians have departed and what can be done about this

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How to count the real number of Ukrainians that are have decided to emigrate? Is there any evidence that Ukrainian economy faces critical level of emigration? What policy measures can the state use in order to sustain economic development in defiance of future migration?

Policy analysts of Center for Economic Strategy explore those questions and present some policy solutions in the analytical paper “HOW MANY UKRAINIANS HAVE DEPARTED AND WHAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT THIS”.

Ukraine is now one of the top ten countries of origin of the international migrants in the world. The estimated number of emigrant workers is 4 millions of people. While simultaneously around 2.6-2.7 millions of people are abroad.

Why are 16% of working age population choosing to work in another country? The most influential factor is economic – Ukrainians are looking for higher wages. Migration flow is mainly circular or short-term: most of migrant workers earn money abroad and want to come back to Ukraine.

Crimea annexation and military action in Donbass region also had an impact on migration of Ukrainians.

The factors mentioned above together with simplification of employment rules in Eastern Europe reshaped the structure of migration flows. Although Russia is still one of the most popular countries for migration, after the 2014 migration flow has started to change its direction from Russia to Poland. Overall, Ukrainians started travelling 42% more often to the West between 2014-2016, while number of people commuting as a result of labor migration rose threefold.

In order to understand how migration processes are influencing Ukraine authors are examining their positive and negative effects. Most evident positive factor of external labor migration of Ukrainians is the fact that most of earnings are coming back to Ukraine. Those earnings stabilize the national currency and finance household consumption. At the same time, working paper underlines negative effects of labor migration: misbalances in labor market, heightened expectations of workers regarding salaries, possible rise if income inequality between households, ineffective usage of state’s social protection funds.

The study concludes: Ukraine needs effective policy measures in sphere of migration in order to make its effects more predictable. Policy-making should be guided by reliable statistics. Thus first and foremost state’s challenge is improvement of knowledge-base on immigration flows, which in its turn requires interdepartmental and interregional coordination of efforts.

Detailed information on proposed policy measures can be found in the working paper. Brief conclusions on the findings of the study can be found in the presentation.