ZAGREB, March 13, 2018 – People in Croatia aged 19-29 mainly don’t think about emigrating until they see if they can succeed in their own country, citing as motives for going abroad education, acquiring experience, emancipation and learning about other cultures, shows a survey presented on Tuesday.
The presentation was organised by the German Friedrich Ebert Stiftung foundation. The survey on Croatian youth emigration covered 56 respondents in Čakovec, Osijek, Rijeka, Split and Zagreb. It was conducted by sociologists Mirjana Adamović and Dunja Potočnik, associates of the Zagreb Institute for Social Research.
“Those who think about moving abroad mainly don’t yet have a clear time perspective as to when they would emigrate. Their priority is to complete education, possibly accomplish certain goals in Croatia and move abroad only if they don’t succeed in that,” said Potočnik.
The survey confirmed that the reasons for emigrating nowadays are different than in the past, when people opted for leaving the country primarily for economic reasons. Aside from employment, today’s youth cite as motives for migrating character building, the influence of friends who have already moved abroad, education, general dissatisfaction with life in Croatia and politics. They wish to live in a “functioning country” where their education and work will be appropriately valued.
The preferred destination countries are Germany, Great Britain, Austria, Ireland, the Netherlands and the Scandinavian countries. Acquaintances who live abroad are very important when choosing a destination.
Potočnik said young people in the Međimurje and Primorje regions mainly don’t wish to move abroad as they are pleased with their life in Croatia. In her opinion, “efficient and reliable institutions at local level” play a big role in that. Young people also cite Croatia’s climate and a lifestyle they would not change.
During a debate following the presentation of the findings, speakers underlined the importance of strengthening the rule of law, an education reform, and changing the social climate so that young people can get a chance to participate in creating their own future.
Nikola Baketa of the Zagreb Institute for Social Research said young people were leaving as they felt that in Croatia they could get a job “only with connections or through party affiliation.” “Young people have very little confidence in institutions. They feel that corruption is rising in Croatia and that political affiliation, and not ability and knowledge, is the key to success.”
Iva Tomić of the Zagreb Institute of Economics said the findings of the survey were optimistic because it covered a population that had still not come face to face with “real life.”
Davorko Vidović of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce said there was no population register in Croatia and that one did not know how many people were actually leaving the country. If their only motive is acquiring experience and education, that’s very optimistic, but there is a lack of quality jobs in Croatia and young people will not settle for being “seasonal cleaners and waiters in tourism” for life, he added.