Many UK Latvians considering return home

One in ten members of the Latvian expat community currently living in the United Kingdom has considered emigrating during the COVID-19 pandemic according to an online survey conducted by Mārtiņš Kaprāns, a researcher at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the University of Latvia.

The research was carried out in December, based on more than 1,500 online respondents.

The data obtained in the survey show that most often British Latvians (53%) who have considered leaving the UK have considered moving to Latvia, much less often - to another country (18%), while almost a third of those who have thought about emigrating did not have a specific country in mind. 

The survey also reveals that a slim majority (54%) of Latvian citizens did not experience a decline in income during the pandemic, however, one in four (24%) has experienced a small or significant decline in income. At the same time, 27% of respondents admit that their workload has decreased during the Covid-19 crisis, but one in five (21%) British Latvians indicated that they have worked remotely. In addition, a third of those surveyed have received money under the furlough scheme guaranteed by the UK government this year.

"Although we do not know how many Latvian citizens are infected with the coronavirus, the data obtained helps to understand the extent of the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic. The comparative analysis shows that the satisfaction of Latvians living in Great Britain since 2000 with working conditions and wages has significantly decreased during the pandemic,” said researcher Mārtiņš Kaprāns. At the same time, however, he emphasizes that the confusion caused by Brexit worries British Latvians more even than the consequences of a pandemic.

The United Kingdom, a former European Union member state, is among the European countries with the highest rates of Covid-19 infection. However, the results of the survey show that only a small portion of Latvian citizens (19%) are worried about the risk of becoming infected with Covid-19 or about the possibility of losing their job as a result of a pandemic (23%). 

Half of those surveyed (51%) whose children attend British schools are concerned about the impact Covid-19 will have on the quality of their children's education. The answers also show that a relatively large number of Latvians (36%) do not trust the ability of the British healthcare system to provide quality care to Covid-19 infected patients.

The largest overseas community of Latvian citizens currently lives in the United Kingdom, which, according to various estimates, consists of about 120,000 people. 

The online survey was conducted on the SurveyMonkey platform from December 6 to 19, using a targeting method offered by the social networking site Facebook . The surveys were conducted in both Latvian and Russian, and people living in the United Kingdom who are Latvian citizens or feel a sense of belonging to Latvia were invited to participate. In total, 1,518 respondents participated in the survey. 

The survey was conducted within the framework of the postdoctoral research project “Baltic Migrants in Great Britain: Adaptation Strategies and Future Scenarios”.

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