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Current Issues

István Horváth

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The economic impact of labour migration on Romania has not yet been assessed in comprehensive terms. It is only certain that the volume of remittances increased continuously until 2006.

The impact of emigration

In 2002, the volume of remittances was estimated to be approximately USD 1.5-2 billion , and Romania placed 23rd in the list of the top 30 developing countries with the highest volume of remittances received in that period. Recent reports show that, since then, the volume of remittances has almost tripled: the National Bank of Romania reported the record amount of EUR 4.8-5.3 billion for 2006. It seems that a large part of this money goes toward increasing the overall living standards of migrant households, and only a small part is invested in entrepreneurial activities.

Beyond the positive economic aspects for households, widespread engagement of Romanians in labour migration has several negative consequences, particularly on the lives of affected families. Perhaps the most problematic issue is the temporary abandonment of minors by their labour migrant parents. At the beginning of the 1990s, only one member of the household tended to migrate, meaning that only one family member (usually the father) was absent. Since then the number of women engaged in labour migration has increased. Now it is common for couples to migrate, leaving minor children behind without direct parental supervision. These children are not necessarily abandoned; rather, parental roles are assumed by relatives, neighbours or friends. However, the lack of direct parental supervision has led to a rise in social problems among children and adolescents, and the authorities in charge of child protection have been forced to formulate policies to monitor the situation. At the end of 2006, approximately 60 000 children were identified by the National Authority for the Protection of Children's Rights as being at risk because one or both parents were working abroad; in one third (21 400) of these cases, children had been deprived of both their parents.

Managing the Romanian diaspora

Lately the Romanian diaspora has become an increasingly important issue on the political agenda. Since the votes and remittances of several million people count, politicians and authorities have started to address the issue of how to influence and strengthen the Romanian diaspora. The major emphasis of these policy actions is on identity and cultural reproduction (including support for Romanian language education abroad and subsidies for cultural activities and publications). A specialised branch of the central administration (presently called the Department for Relations with Romanians Abroad) has been operating since 1998, and in 2006 a law stipulating the conditions under which the organisation and activities of the diaspora are to be financed was passed. In 2006 the department offered financial support for 145 projects, totalling the equivalent of EUR 3.2 million.

Among the latest developments in the field of diaspora policies, it should be noted that Romanians working abroad are now being viewed not only as potential voters or promoters of Romanian culture, but as a labour supply that can help fill growing shortages in sectors of the Romanian labour market. In early 2007 a special interdepartmental committee of the central administration, headed by the Prime Minister, was set up with the purpose of drafting a set of measures to encourage the return of Romanian labour migrants abroad.



  1. See Lăzăroiu (2004).

  2. See SOPEMI (2006).

  3. Depending on the sources and methods. For details see: Bobocea, M. (2007): "Expatii romani au trimis acasa 1,3 mld. euro in decembrie." Ziarul Financiar, 20 February; Tudorica, I. and Davidescu, L. (2007): "Trei milioane de romani muncesc in strainatate." Cotidianul, 18 June.

  4. See Grigoraş (2006). For more information on remittances in general, see Hertlein, S. and Vadean, F. (2006): "Remittances – A Bridge between Migration and Development?" focus Migration Policy Brief Nr. 5.

  5. Source: internal statistics of the Governmental Department for the Protection of Children's Rights.

  6. See Activity Report of the Department for Relations with the Romanians Abroad during January – December 2006. Externer Link:

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