Temporary emigration intentions from Georgia: Do migration networks count?
The UN estimates the number of international migrants worldwide to be on the rise. Academics and policy makers continue to pay considerable attention to drivers of international migration, i.e. the factors that cause people to move from their home country, either temporarily or permanently. While a significant body of scholarship exists on the structural ‘push’ factors of international migration, such as limited economic opportunities, poverty, poor governance, or war in migrants’ home countries, interpersonal factors are no less important in shaping migration. This blog post investigates the latter, seeking to examine how individuals in Georgia with and without close friends and family living abroad differ in their willingness to emigrate from the country temporarily.
Studies have been conducted that demonstrate the impact of personal networks on migration behavior. One central theory guiding these studies is the ‘migration network theory,’ which posits that the reduced social, economic, and emotional costs of migration stemming from existing contacts who are able and willing to help new migrants ultimately ease migration, and, to a certain degree, promote it. Understanding migration networks permits a more comprehensive view of migration as a dynamic process, rather than a mechanical outcome of economic or political deprivation. Migration networks include family, friends, neighbors, and former colleagues — essentially anyone an individual can rely on and share information about opportunities abroad, including settlement assistance.
Emigration has been an important coping strategy for the population of Georgia since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer survey data from 2010 through 2017 indicates that the share of people in Georgia willing to temporarily emigrate has increased slightly. In CB 2017, 55% of the adult population of Georgia responded ‘yes’ to the question: “If you had a chance, would you leave Georgia for a certain period of time to live somewhere else?” In 2010, this share was 47%.
CB also asked two questions that can help see individuals’ temporary migration intentions in light of the migration networks they might have. Of those who had a close relative living abroad at the time of the survey, 59% responded that they would leave Georgia temporarily to live somewhere else. In contrast, only 40% of those without close relatives living abroad responded that they would emigrate temporarily. Similarly, individuals who reportedly had a close friend abroad were more likely to report a willingness to temporarily emigrate than those who did not. It is still important to mention, though, that about 40% of those not having a close friend or relative abroad still report willingness to temporarily emigrate from the country.
The findings presented in this blog post suggest, in accordance with the migration network theory, that social networks may play a role in people’s willingness to temporary emigrate from Georgia. Individuals with a close contact who was living abroad at the time of the survey were more likely to respond that they would leave Georgia for a certain period of time to live somewhere else. It should be emphasized, however, that CB does not present data on actual emigration, but rather reported intentions that may or may not result in individual actions.
To explore the data used in this blog post further, visit our Online Data Analysis platform.
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By: Dustin Gilbreath
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[Note: Social Science in the Caucasus is publishing the work of six young researchers who entered CRRC-Georgia’s Junior Fellowship Program (JFP) in February 2015. This is the second blog post in the series. Click here to see the first blog post.]
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