Latvians return home for family and jobs

With more than 10 percent of the population having left Latvia during the last decade, a new report attempts to identify the reasons they do eventually return.

Latvian citizens, who have moved to other countries, tend to return to live in Latvia for a number of reasons that include reunion with family and friends, feeling homesick and finding a job, according to a survey presented at the meeting of the Latvian parliamentary committee on citizenship, migration and consolidation of the society on Wednesday.

The survey 'The Emigrant Communities of Latvia: National Identity, Transnational Relations and Diaspora Policies' was carried out by the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology and the Faculty of Economics and Management at the University of Latvia.

"The fact that many Latvians live outside Latvia is not a problem. The problem is that there are too few Latvians in Latvia. A diaspora in itself is a chance for Latvia and Latvians. We have to walk a fine line to balance the two processes,” said the parliamentary committee chairman, Ilmars Latkovskis.

This is the reason why Latvia needs high-quality surveys to build its policies on, he said.

The main reasons why Latvians move abroad include financial difficulties, better chances of making money and building professional career, going with one’s family members, seeking better quality of life and marrying a foreigner, the principal investigator of the project, Inta Mierina, told the lawmakers.

The reasons that prevent Latvians from returning to their homeland include inability to find an acceptable job, lack of social assistance, insufficient opportunities for professional or business growth and the fact that they have already settled down in the given foreign country.

When asked what net monthly wage might make them interested to come work in Latvia, one-third of Latvians living abroad named amounts below 1,000 euros, about a half would be content with 1,000 euros and nearly three-fourths would be attracted by a net monthly wage of 1,500 euros.

The survey found that while Latvians have emigrated mostly for economic reasons and their motives for re-emigration are non-economic, most of the emigrants do not plan to return to Latvia in the nearest future therefore at the moment Latvia should focus on reducing the outflow of population.

About 370,000 Latvian nationals have taken up permanent residence abroad, including more than 200,000, who left Latvia during the last 10 years, Mierina said.

The survey covered over 14,000 ethnic Latvians and Latvian nationals living in 118 countries.

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