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Left behind but doing good? Civic engagement in two post-socialist countries

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  • Nikolova, Milena
  • Roman, Monica
  • Zimmermann, Klaus F.

Abstract

The fall of socialism in Central and Eastern Europe restored ordinary citizens’ rights and freedoms and ended their political and social isolation. While the freedom of movement was quickly embraced, civil society revival lagged due to the eroded civic norms, declining social capital, and worsening economic conditions. In this paper, we examine the link between the out-migration of relatives and friends and the pro-social behavior of the left behinds in two post-socialist countries—Bulgaria and Romania—the EU's poorest, and among the least happy and most corrupt member states. We show that having close contacts abroad is consistently positively associated with civic engagement and that the cultural transmission of norms from abroad could be driving the results. Specifically, the strength of the civic engagement culture of the family or friend's destination matters for the pro-social behavior of respondents in the home countries. Our results imply that the emigration of family and friends may have positive but previously undocumented consequences for the individuals and communities left behind in Bulgaria and Romania. Given civil society's role for development in post-socialist Europe and the socio-economic and institutional challenges that Bulgaria and Romania face compared with the rest of the EU, understanding the channels fostering civil society and well-being are important for national and EU policymakers.

Suggested Citation

  • Nikolova, Milena & Roman, Monica & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2017. "Left behind but doing good? Civic engagement in two post-socialist countries," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 658-684.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jcecon:v:45:y:2017:i:3:p:658-684
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jce.2016.04.006
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    Cited by:

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    2. Tuccio, Michele & Wahba, Jackline & Hamdouch, Bachir, 2016. "International Migration: Driver of Political and Social Change?," IZA Discussion Papers 9794, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Idrissa Diabate & Sandrine Mesplé-Somps, 2019. "Female genital mutilation and migration in Mali: do return migrants transfer social norms?," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 32(4), pages 1125-1170, October.
    4. Anghel, Remus Gabriel & Botezat, Alina & Cosciug, Anatolie & Manafi, Ioana & Roman, Monica, 2016. "International migration, return migration, and their effects. A comprehensive review on the Romanian case," MPRA Paper 75528, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Dec 2016.
    5. Michele Tuccio & Jackline Wahba & Bachir Hamdouch, 2019. "International migration as a driver of political and social change: evidence from Morocco," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 32(4), pages 1171-1203, October.
    6. Iddisah Sulemana & Louis Doabil & Ebenezer Bugri Anarfo, 2019. "International Remittances and Subjective Wellbeing in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Micro-level Study," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 40(3), pages 524-539, September.
    7. Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2017. "Migration for Development: From Challenges to Opportunities," GLO Discussion Paper Series 70, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    8. Riccardo Turati, 2020. "Network-based Connectedness and the Diffusion of Cultural Traits," LIDAM Discussion Papers IRES 2020012, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    9. Ruxanda Berlinschi & Jan Fidrmuc, 2018. "Comfort and Conformity: A Culture-based Theory of Migration," CESifo Working Paper Series 7294, CESifo.
    10. Artjoms Ivlevs & Milena Nikolova & Carol Graham, 2019. "Emigration, remittances, and the subjective well-being of those staying behind," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 32(1), pages 113-151, January.
    11. Amelie F. Constant & Klaus F. Zimmermann, 2016. "Diaspora economics: new perspectives," International Journal of Manpower, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 37(7), pages 1110-1135, October.
    12. Riccardo Turati, 2021. "Do you want to migrate to the United States? Migration intentions and Cultural Traits in Latin America," Working Papers wpdea2101, Department of Applied Economics at Universitat Autonoma of Barcelona.
    13. Ruxanda Berlinschi & Jan Fidrmuc, 2018. "Comfort and Conformity: A Culture-based Theory of Migration," CESifo Working Paper Series 7294, CESifo.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    International migration; Left behind; Civic engagement; Social remittances; Post-socialism;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I30 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • P30 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions - - - General
    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General

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