WHY ARE ARMENIANS LEAVING ARMENIA?

DEPOP Speaking Tour 2014 in Beirut, Paris, Toronto, New York and Los Angeles:

Beirut
January 30, 2014, 8:00p.m. AGBU Demirdjian Center Naccoch Highway, 402 Antelias

Paris
February 3, 2014,
8:00p.m. AGBU Alex Manoogian Center 118
Rue de Courcelles

Toronto
February 5, 2014, 7:30p.m. AGBU Alex Manoogian Cultural Center 930 Progress Avenue

New York
February 6, 2014,
7:00p.m. AGBU Central
Office 55 East 59th Street

Los Angeles
February 11, 2014,
7:30p.m. Glendale Central
Library 222 E. Harvard Street

See More The Kololian Foundation funded the independent research which took place over 12 months, which was first presented at a UN Conference on Population, in Yerevan, in October 2013. The DEPOP Speaking Tour 2014 is organized by the Kololian Foundation and Armenian General Benevolent Union.

Background: The DEPOP Armenia Project was established by Vahan Kololian, a Canadian-Armenian, who worked with the Yerevan-based NGO, the International Centre for Human Development (www.ichd.org), in selecting two Armenian universities and two think-tanks, to conduct research on the reasons behind the high levels of emigration from Armenia.

Research Paper: The results of the one-year research project were published in October, 2013. It was first presented at a UNFPA conference in Yerevan on October 8. Below is a summary of the report. To download the full report click here.

Overview

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Emigration from Armenia has reached unprecedented levels. This trend poses major threats to Armenia’s well-being and endangers Armenia’s demographic prospects. Understanding these concerns, a group of researchers and academics from Armenia have implemented a one-year research project aimed at identifying the root causes of emigration from Armenia. The research report presents survey results and analyzes areas such as employment and educational systems, corruption, lack of rule of law, economic and judicial reforms, the need for Government accountability, business environment, lack of a cohesive parliamentary opposition, tax and customs policies, the need for civic activism and legal consciousness. more


Rule of law

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The rule of law is one of the main elements providing wellbeing and protection in any society. While there may be loopholes in the laws of developing countries such as Armenia, the real challenges concern the application of law. Armenia suffers from corruption due to the selective application of laws, and citizens receive unequal protection under the law. Institutional weaknesses in the judicial and law enforcement systems produce abuses and violations of human rights during the investigation process and in courts. Problems with the rule of law mostly concern the application of existing laws in the judicial and law enforcement systems. more


Demographic Crisis

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According to official government statistics, the population of Armenia did not grow during the last 10 years because of a low birth rate and high emigration rates. ‘Brain drain’ and family emigration, a more recent phenomenon, acutely threaten the country’s demographic prospects as people have started to emigrate with their families. According to our survey results, respondents’ willingness to emigrate increases in parallel with their salary levels, and 34 percent said they wanted to emigrate. Among reasons of current emigration trends are a lack of rule of law, economic opportunities and poor governance, coupled with the inability of citizens to speak out and effect change through social institutions. more


Corruption

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Corruption in Armenia exists at different levels of governance and is a major factor in relations with government bodies and business regulation. Even though there have been some efforts to fight corruption, these anti-corruption efforts are not proving sufficient or effective. The strong links between the government and business within the Armenian governance system do not allow the government to be independent. By law, government officials are banned from engaging in business activities, but in practice they often have extensive business interests and many parliamentary deputies and state officials run companies on the side. more


Reasons and Solutions

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The presence of monopolies or oligopolies as powerful players in imported goods limits growth and production opportunities, leading to higher prices and reduced opportunity for small business. Roughly a third of Armenia’s population lives below the poverty line. A nation-wide survey found that a third of respondents are considering emigration within the next two years, and many of the currently-employed respondents look to emigrate as well. Individual choices and perceptions driving emigration are rooted in larger systematic features of Armenia’s economic, political and social situation. Examination of those conditions can shed light on the background informing individual choices, and highlight reforms that might lead Armenia’s citizens to invest in a future for themselves and their families inside the country. more


Examples for Armenia

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Looking at the experience of Israel’s development through migration can shed light on potentials for Armenia. Of course, many factors in the two countries differ, such as their history, quality of governance, rule of law, and economic opportunities. However, there are similarities too: insecure geographical environments prone to warfare and external hostility, historical tragedy uniting a far-flung diaspora, and the existence of diaspora organizations around the world sharing common ideologies and goals. For these reasons, comparison with the Israeli experience may reveal lessons for Armenia’s efforts at encouraging development by repatriating its diaspora. more


Repopulation

Repopulation

In addition to resisting emigration and implementing a repatriation policy, Armenia should also try to populate its remote areas most affected by the poor economy and emigration. Discussing case studies of successful repopulation efforts in Armenia and the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh can shed light on the Armenian people’s potential to implement repopulation projects for war-torn and remote areas. A case study in Kashatagh and Shahumyan regions looked into the main motivating factors and preconditions for individuals to settle in the remote areas, the variety of resources in those areas that can support that process and what means of communication have been useful during the repopulation process. The case study suggests a number of techniques for more successful repopulation in the future. more


Repatriates from the Middle East

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This research offers a critical appraisal of policies implemented for repatriation, backed up by results of focus group discussions among repatriates. Along with the local population, potential repatriates or returning migrants are faced with challenges such as a lack of job opportunities, shortcomings in education and health care, corruption, high cost of living in relation to income, monopolies impeding market competition, unfamiliar business environment and practices, complicated taxation and customs laws susceptible to corrupt practices, and a deep lack of faith in the country’s future. A healthy inflow of people from both the traditional diaspora and from those who emigrated from Armenia following independence could create the conditions for a reverse in population decline. Understanding the reasons behind diaspora reluctance to return to Armenia, and offering policy solutions to the factors identified, is vital for the nation’s future. more