Western Balkans Loses Potential for Economic Growth Due to Youth Emigration

The Western Balkans and Croatia are losing long-term potential for economic growth due to youth emigration, and the fact that employable people are leaving the region is not good for the EU either, the Vienna Institute of Demography of the Austrian Academy of Sciences said in a study published on Wednesday.

Official statistics say that 181,034 citizens who were issued EU residence permits left Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia from 2014 to 2019. The corresponding statistics are hard to define for Croatia because Croats do not need residence permits elsewhere in the EU as an EU member.

The cost of emigration is very high, and it is mostly young people aged between 25 and 34 who are leaving the region. Being the largest consumers, too, their departure affects GDP rates.

In addition, societies lose when they invest in the education of people who then leave. According to a 2020 estimate by the United Nations, Croatia and the Western Balkans lost so many inhabitants that the region was among the most vulnerable in the world in terms of demographics.

Balkan brain drain could be costing the region its future

Albania has one of the most concerning rates in the region, comprised of emigration and asylum requests. This combined with an aging population and low birth rates spells serious economic issues for the country’s future.