The key debates around migration have centered on the impacts related to remittances, population, and diaspora.
Remittances have been the country's lifeline throughout the two post-communist decades. They increased year-on-year from a baseline of $150 million in 1992 reaching their peak at $1.3 billion in 2007, but started declining from then on. In the early 1990s remittances covered almost the entire trade deficit and constituted as much as 22 percent of the country's GDP. By 2009, these figures had fallen but were still significant at 33 percent and 9 percent respectively. At a micro-level, remittances have been key to ensure the survival of many families, as well as help pay for them to access better education and healthcare, invest in agriculture and small family-run businesses.
The interaction between migration and population in Albania has had three main outcomes: population loss, redistribution, and ageing. Figures from the two post-communist population censuses confirm this. The 2001 census enumerated a population loss due to migration of around 700,000 compared to 1989; by 2011 the loss of another 8 percent of the 2001 population was also attributed mainly to emigration.
Albania's diaspora is rather large relative to the country's resident population, especially when taking into account the historical communities abroad. Often, all Albanians abroad are considered as part of this diaspora, including those originating from Kosovo, Macedonia and Montenegro. In turn, these migrants too consider Albania as the true heart of an encompassing Albanian motherland. Such a symbiotic relationship – even if usually only symbolic – has opened up investment opportunities in Albania for affluent Albanians from the US or Swiss diaspora. In recent years attention has turned to the highly educated and professional segments who are considered by the Albanian government and international development partners as particularly important intermediaries in Albania's development through the transmission of their know-how, technological knowledge and networks.