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Background Information | Romania |

Romania Background Information Historical Trends Immigration/ Emigration Citizenship Refuge and Asylum Irregular Migration Current Issues Future Challenges References

Background Information

István Horváth

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Romania (bpb) Lizenz: cc by-nc-nd/2.0/de

During the past one hundred years Romania was predominantly a country of emigration, with a rather impressive record regarding the number of persons involved, the outcomes and the varieties of migratory arrangements.

It is noticeable that in the 20th century a considerable part of the migratory flows was directly or indirectly connected with ethnic minorities, a type of migration largely characteristic for other countries of Central and Southeastern Europe. These minorities were not simply refugees: they moved to states to which they had historical ties (e.g. Germany, Hungary), both in reaction to general and ethnic-based discrimination in Romania, and because they hoped for a safer and better life in those states. Political violence and deprivation generated by a largely ineffective and authoritarian administration represented another cause for flight and emigration for a large number of Romanians during and immediately after the demise of the Communist era.

Background InformationRomania

Capital: Bucharest
Official language: Romanian
Area: 237 500 km2
Population (2002): 21 680 974
Population density: 90.9 inhabitants per km2
Population growth (natural increase in 2005): -1.9 %
Foreign citizens as percentage of total population: 0.2 % (MIRA)
Labour force participation rate (2005): 62.4 % (INS)
Unemployment rate: 4.5 % (April 2007) 5.4 % (2006) 5.9 % (2005) (INS)
Religions (2002 census): 86.8 % Romanian Orthodox; 4.7 % Roman Catholic; 3.2 % Reformed; 1.5 % Pentecostal; 0.9 % Greek Catholic; 2.7 % other; 0.2 % no religion, atheist or not stated

The slow and socially burdensome transition from a centrally planned economy to an effectively functioning market economy (over the past one and a half decades) has provided another impetus for Romanians to search for employment abroad. The economic transition precipitated a rather drastic and lasting decline in the number of jobs available in the domestic labour market, and at least two million Romanians moved abroad as a result.

The population loss caused by these waves of emigration has started to negatively impact the further development of the Romanian economy. Emigration, combined with an ageing population, will likely make Romania turn to labour immigration in the future. Here the country will face considerable challenges, from finding a way of managing – and perhaps reversing – the outflow of workers to developing policies for managing the reception and integration of large numbers of immigrants, an area in which it has little experience.



  1. Perhaps the most important was the vanishing of two large minorities, the Jews and Germans (each of which accounted for around half a million people at the beginning of twentieth century), from Romania's ethnic landscape.

  2. For a review, see Münz (2002).

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István Horváth is a Reader in the Faculty of Sociology and Social Work at Babeş-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania.