When 5 million citizens leave

One in five Romanians left to work abroad after the 1989 Revolution and they never came back. As the country celebrates its centennial anniversary in 2018, Romania faces its biggest demographic problem.

Delia Budurca
Delia Budurca NewsMavens, Romania
When 5 million citizens leave - NewsMavens
Romanian dolls, PixaBay

Why this story matters:

Almost five million Romanians left the country after 1989, looking for jobs and a better life. This is why Romania’s population has sunk to under 20 million.

Young people have left at the beginning or at the peak of their creative power, leaving behind parents and children. Later on, they took their children, whom they rushed to integrate into their destination countries. Sometimes they barely know Romanian. They come to visit their grandparents, but Romania is no longer their country.

The consequences? A lower birth rate, one now under the threshold for population decline.

An acute workforce shortage has resulted, so entrepreneurs have to import workers, mainly from Vietnam. Fields are left unworked. Depopulated villages count less than half of the population they had in 1989, with no newborns and with an average population age of over 65. There are major concerns about the pension and health budgets. In years to come, who will pay the pensions of those who work today?

Details from the story:

  • The total fertility rate in Romania has fallen below the critical threshold of 2.1 (below this level the population is decreasing) reaching a historical minimum of 1,428, which means a demographic decline in which the population is reduced by five Romanians each hour. The data appears in a draft report submitted to Parliament encouraging births and protective measures for mothers.
  • If the same pace is maintained, in 15-20 years the labor market, as well as the health and pension budgets, will need increasing support from the budget and will be in serious trouble, according to a draft report submitted to the Senate and signed by dozens of MPs.  
  • A study published by the National Institute of Statistics shows that, in the most pessimistic scenario in 2060, the population of Romania will be 12.5 million inhabitants, and the average variant -- the country could have 13.8 million inhabitants .
  • "We appreciate that there are around 5 million Romanians in Europe and there are about 1 million in the United States and Canada", says Daniel Ţecu, President of the Federation of European Associations of Europe (FADERE).
  • "The Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs manages the problem of Romanians abroad, there are about 10 million Romanians, and the ministry has 64 employees, plus the offices of the dignitaries", the minister explained, arguing that a Special Agency should be set up to use strategies and solutions to preserve  the cultural identity of the Romanian diaspora.
  • Data from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) showed Romania had the largest number of citizens established in other EU Member States in 2016, .  
  • In 1989, Romania had 24 million inhabitants.
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