WHY ARE ARMENIANS LEAVING ARMENIA?

Demographic Crisis

According to official government statistics, the population 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. In past decades, people would leave Armenia to work in other countries and then return home with money. Even though in many cases they established themselves in their host countries and took their families with them later, this trend was not large-scale. In more recent years, however, 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.

In 2009, Russia introduced its ‘Compatriots’ immigration program aimed at bringing immigrants to the Russian North. The program offered a grant, job and privileged conditions to buy property, along with the prospect of Russian citizenship. According to the data from the Armenian Migration Service, a total of 26,000 Armenians applied to the program during the past four years, of whom 1,500 gave up their Armenian citizenship and moved. The overwhelming majority of these applications was filed for emigration with families, and included skilled young people of working age (which was one of the program’s requirements). The demand for emigration through this program was so high that the Armenian government urged the Russian government to close the program office in Armenia. Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan said “the program that effectively encourages outward migration is unacceptable for Armenia.” The program was suspended in Armenia in 2013. Radio Liberty Armenia reports that “the term of the immigration program agreement with Armenia finished on April 1, and the agreement was not renewed.”

The dramatic increase in emigration trends has caused concern not just within the Armenian government but among international organizations as well. In 2013, for instance, the European Union Delegation and UNICEF, in cooperation with the Ministries of Labor and Social Issues and Territorial Administration of Armenia, launched a three-year project aimed at mitigating the social consequences of labor migration for families and communities in Armenia.


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