Croatia, full of life… in other countries.
There are countless stories in newspapers and on news portals talking endlessly about the crisis of Croatia’s talented youth leaving in their droves for the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, and beyond. While not untrue in themselves, these bleak stories circulate through society much like fishermens tales from along the riverbanks, with people quietly discussing how some streets in Slavonia only have a couple of houses with their lights still left on, huddled over their coffees and Jana ice teas and shrouded in the smoke from their own cigarettes as if telling ghost stories at a sleepover.
The truth of the situation is that while the buses are indeed filling up with Croatia’s residents headed to other more developed European nations where they can search for their dream of a higher wage and more job opportunities, there are many who are doing quite well. For as many depressing stories about emigration gracing our eyes and ears on a daily basis, there are equally as many (alright, almost as many) stories about domestic startup success, not to mention the incredible innovative and sporting abilities of many young Croats who are making proverbial waves in their respective professional fields of choice, right here in Croatia.
With that being said, and more importantly, with it all being true, there are some alarming stories which do make you scratch your head a bit when you first read them, and Poslovni Dnevnik reported on one of those on the 7th of May, 2018. According to research, it would appear that Germany is currently home to more Croats than the Dalmatian capital of Split is.
According to data which has been circulating over the past several months, HRT has stated that more than 250,000 Croats have left Croatia and neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina the last seven years. A concerning statistic? Yes, Absolutely. A surprising one? Not really.
Much like another Northern European gem, the United Kingdom,Germany, while beautiful and full of opportunities for many, can be extremely expensive. Generally speaking, rent and living expenses for immigrants in Germany can hardly be covered by just one single salary, even an average German one, so typically, the entire family of the jobseeker leaves Croatia and goes with them on the hunt for better lives too.
“If we don’t bring German factories to Croatia, our workers will go to Germany!”, warned economist Đuro Njavro, and he wasn’t far wrong with that blunt yet true statement. Measured by gross domestic product per capita, compared with EU members, Croatia ranked 21st in 2000, and last year, the country dropped down to 26th place.
In a country constantly being praised internationally for its incredible tourism numbers and natural beauty, among other things, it stands as quite the contrast from the point of the interior and the economy when there are now more Croats living in Germany than there are in Split, and enough to populate around ten towns the size of Bjelovar.