Internal Mobility and International Migration in Albania
Using evidence from two recent data sources – the 2002 Albania Living Standards Measurement Survey (LSMS) and the 2001 Population Census of Albania – the paper documents the phenomena of internal and external migration in Albania, a country that in the past decade has experienced dramatic changes as it makes its transition to a more open market economy. Albania is a country on the move, both internally and internationally. This mobility plays a key role in household-level strategies to cope with the economic hardship of transition and it is perhaps the single most important political, social, and economic phenomenon in post-communist Albania. The order of magnitude of the observed flows is astonishing. Almost one half of all Albanian households have had direct exposure to migration events, either through direct temporary migration of a household member or through their children living abroad. One out of two children who since 1990 no longer live with their parents is now living abroad, primarily in Greece and Italy. For obvious reasons, Greece also remains the preferred destination of temporary migrants, although – and despite the higher costs associated with it – the shares of Albanians temporarily migrating to Italy and Germany have increased substantially in recent years. The paper also provides a micro level analysis of the household’s migration decision. The role of household and community characteristics, including relative deprivation and the importance of social networks, in the decision to migrate are assessed.
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