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Left Behind but Doing Good? Civic Engagement in Two Post-Socialist Countries

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  • Klaus F. Zimmermann
  • Monica Roman
  • Milena Nikolova

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, unhappiest, and among the most corrupt members. 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

  • Klaus F. Zimmermann & Monica Roman & Milena Nikolova, 2016. "Left Behind but Doing Good? Civic Engagement in Two Post-Socialist Countries," Discussion Papers 36, Central European Labour Studies Institute (CELSI).
  • Handle: RePEc:cel:dpaper:36
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    5. Ruxanda Berlinschi & Jan Fidrmuc, 2018. "Comfort and Conformity: A Culture-based Theory of Migration," LICOS Discussion Papers 40518, LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven.
    6. Shu Cai & Albert Park & Winnie Yip, 2022. "Migration and experienced utility of left-behind parents: evidence from rural China," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 35(3), pages 1225-1259, July.
    7. Michal Hrivnák & Peter Moritz & Katarína Melichová & Soňa Bellérová, 2023. "Does Civic Engagement Support Relational and Mental Health of Urban Population?," Societies, MDPI, vol. 13(2), pages 1-16, February.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. Amelie F. Constant & Klaus F. Zimmermann, 2016. "Diaspora economics: new perspectives," International Journal of Manpower, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, vol. 37(7), pages 1110-1135, October.
    11. Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2017. "Migration for Development: From Challenges to Opportunities," GLO Discussion Paper Series 70, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    12. Tuccio, Michele & Wahba, Jackline & Hamdouch, Bachir, 2016. "International Migration: Driver of Political and Social Change?," IZA Discussion Papers 9794, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    13. Leonid V. Azarnert & Slava Yakubenko, 2021. "Effects of Emigration on Gender Norms in Countries of Origin," CESifo Working Paper Series 9450, CESifo.
    14. Konte, Maty & Ndubuisi, Gideon, 2022. "Remittance dependence, support for taxation and quality of public services in Africa," MERIT Working Papers 2022-019, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    15. Khandker Wahedur Rahman, 2023. "International migration and the religious schooling of children in the home country: evidence from Bangladesh," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 36(3), pages 1963-2005, July.
    16. 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).
    17. Bonin, Holger & Krause-Pilatus, Annabelle & Rinne, Ulf & Brücker, Herbert, 2020. "Wirtschaftliche Effekte der EU-Arbeitskräftemobilität in den Ziel- und Herkunftsländern," IZA Research Reports 102, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    18. Jan Brzozowski & Nicola Daniele Coniglio, 2022. "The Effect of International Migration on Tax Morale in the Home Country: Evidence from Poland," EGEIWP 03-2022, Dipartimento di Economia e Finanza - Università degli Studi di Bari "Aldo Moro", revised Jan 2023.
    19. 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.

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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 - Political Economy and Comparative Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions - - - General
    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General

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