M IGRATION IN L ITHUANIA DEBATE ANSWERING THE CHALLENGES OF MIGRATION AND MULTICULTURALISM.
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M IGRATION IN L ITHUANIA DEBATE ANSWERING THE CHALLENGES OF MIGRATION AND MULTICULTURALISM
Lithuania was exposed to the rapid economical and demographical changes since the restoration of independence in 1990.
Due to decrease of fertility, increase of population mortality and rise of emigration country’s population was shrinking during period 1989-2008 from 3.675 to 3.366 thousands. The emigration has accounted for a loss of more than 300 thousand Lithuania’s inhabitants or 13-14% of all working age persons during 1990- 2008.
In early period of 1990-1995 the main target countries for migration were Russia, Ukraine, and Byelorussia. Later the stream of emigrants has changed the route toward Western European countries and USA. It is considered that about 60 percent of emigration cases abroad were not declared, short term and were not accounted by the official statistics presented. Later the temporal stay periods were tending to transform to the different forms of work abroad and become a long stay or permanent emigration. The most disturbing challenge for Lithuania also was a threat of “brain drain”.
In 2001-2002 the United States, Germany was the most common destination for migrants. However, after Lithuania joined to EU in 2004 the main target countries for migration became United Kingdom and Ireland. Lithuania – the East European country with the highest absolute numbers of migrants. People decide to work in construction in Dublin, pick strawberries in southern Spain, or conduct research in Scandinavia.
At the present time the most common type is short-term migration of part of the family (one of parents with no children or both parents), which mainly serves an economic function without affecting basic social relations.
Until recently, illegal international migration of the population, mostly young, was typical for the country. It was mostly triggered by poor opportunities to earn money and ensure at least a minimal standard of living, high unemployment, especially among young people, and regional inequalities of job supply. BUT currently older people tend to emigrate even without proper knowledge of foreign language. Extreme forms of emigration (e.g. trafficking of mostly women), have also been recorded during last years.
Immigration – arriving aliens from other countries - also becoming more and more common in Lithuania. Some 5-8 thousands of immigrants were arriving to Lithuania starting during 2001-2008. Percentage of aliens is still not high in the country 0.98 percent of total population in 2007. The main reason of migration to Lithuania is unification with the family (43%). Immigrants from EU countries constitute only 16.5%. Foreign students constitute 11% of migrants, persons with job contracts- 7.6%, with business making - 5.4% (2002). The structure of immigrants was changing during last decade – number of aliens coming with the purpose of family unification is diminishing, number of persons, who intend to open their business, is increasing. The majority of asylum seekers (up to 80%) are coming from Russia.
EU project on Migrant Integration Policy Index made analytical research and comparison of legal situation of migrants in EU countries in 2006. Results of this project indicate that Lithuania could be rated as country on “the half way to the best practice” (44.7 scores out of 100). Labour market access (55%) and family reunion (68%) were mentioned as the best achievement in integration of migrants in Lithuania. Political participation and security of nationality received mark “unfavorable (<20 scores). Security of employment, possibility of dual nationality was rated by Index as “critically unfavorable”.
The following conclusions about demographical changes in the context of migration and about status, provision of services could be made from this report: A rapid ageing of the population and the shift of ratio between the producing and the consuming portions of the society due to migration and low birth rate was common. Deterioration of health indicators of population. In Lithuania, the life expectancy at birth of men is approximately ten years and women – five years shorter than in the old countries of the EU.
Significant increase of emigration from Lithuania took place since 1990 as the result of repatriation from Lithuania to Russia, Ukraine and other states of the former Soviet Union in 1990-1993 and to EU countries and USA later. Starting of increase of labor immigration from the third countries outside EU was observed during the last few years. Public perceptions concerning foreigners and immigrants coming to Lithuania were below the average when compared with other EU countries.
Based on the information from www.mighealth.net www.mighealth.net