How much does youth emigration cost Kosovo?

28 June 2021

How much does youth emigration cost Kosovo?

In cooperation with Democracy Plus, the Westminster Foundation for Democracy published the study on “Cost of youth Emigration” on Kosovo, which is a first ever analysis to provide data on how much does Kosovo loose due to young people leaving the country.

This study shows that Kosovo shares the fate of the region in terms of migration movements and is facing an intensified process of emigration of young and highly educated people. Specifics related to Kosovo—wars, political instability, fragile institutions in the initial stages of establishment—only intensify this process. In addition, the long tradition of emigration from these areas, the still strong ties of the diaspora with the motherland and the effect of the “trodden path” contribute to the intensification of this process.

For youth, which is usually the most mobile part of the population, the impossibility of finding a job is one of the main push factors. Unemployment in this part of the population is enormous in Kosovo, where approximately half of young people have no chance of finding any job after finishing school.

After a peak in 2015, in which over 74,000 people emigrated and only a quarter of that number were registered as immigrants, two years of mitigating this trend followed. After that, the emigration flow was intensified again with negative balances of over 21,000 and almost 29,000 in 2018 and 2019 respectively. In any case, in the period from 2015 to 2019, Kosovo recorded a negative migration balance of over 120,000 people.

Our analysis show that the total cost of education of people leaving Kosovo in one year, depending on the educational structure, varies from just over €180 million to almost €205 million. As it is impossible to prevent the annual outflow of the population through employment, an annual loss in potential GDP in the amount of about €519 million is generated. Simply put, every employable individual emigrating from Kosovo takes an average of almost €17,000 a year in future potential annual GDP that could have been realized if economic flows had enabled their productive employment.

To engage the main stakeholders form state institutions, a presentation and discussion was organized by Democracy Plus, while the panellists for discussion were Ardian Gola – MP of ruling Vetevendosje party, Eliza Hoxha – MP of Democratic Party of Kosovq and Dorotea Deshishku – advisor to the Minister of culture, youth and sports.

Panellists mentioned the need for support from state institutions for projects that reduce the reasons for emigration of young people from Kosovo.  The Vetëvendosje MP Ardian Gola said that in order to reduce the level of emigration in Kosovo, it is necessary to strengthen foreign policy, thus linking the activities of young people inside Kosovo with the activities of the diaspora, so that the diaspora is additional resource for Kosovo. While the MP from the Democratic Party of Kosovo Eliza Hoxha, among other things mentioned the need to strengthen the private sector, so that the latter is a source of employment for young people in Kosovo. The advisor to the Minister of  culture, youth and sports Dorotea Deshishku, mentioned the need to engage young people in additional trainings and activities that would help them in capacity building, and to create easier access to the labour market in Kosovo. 

We hope that this data will be used by a broad alliance of stakeholders in Kosovo, an alliance which will then be able to present policy solutions on how to address and reduce the cost of youth emigration and its negative effects. We also hope that the study will initiate a broader discussion on the topics of youth emigration.

Read the full study in English here and in Albanian here.