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Emigration Potential of Youth in Serbia

Milica Todorović ; Beograd, Srbija
Vanja Javor orcid id ; Beograd, Srbija
Nevena Radić orcid id ; Beograd, Srbija

Puni tekst: srpski pdf 732 Kb

str. 155-171

preuzimanja: 262



Amidst negative demographic trends, emigration of the young, reproductive and employable population is one of the vital issues for the further development of the Republic of Serbia. Hence, there is a need for in-depth academic research and expert discussions that would allow for a better understanding of the issue, while pointing out its limitations and potentials. Since the country’s emigration potential is not sufficiently represented in previous research, this paper aims to shed light on the phenomenon of migration by discussing the attitudes, intentions and motives of senior-year high school students. It also aims to identify the factors for the potential emigration of young people. In line with the research subject and aims, the paper relies on the focus group method. The analysis was carried out using data from a focus-group survey conducted in three local governments – the City of Leskovac, the City of Užice and the City of Zaječar. Regional centres in the southern, western and eastern parts of Serbia were selected because they best represent the heterogeneity of its socio-economic development and migration patterns. Given that the group is the main unit of analysis within the chosen qualitative research method, the respondents had to share at least one important characteristic. In this case, they were senior-year high school students, born or residing in the mentioned cities. Focus groups were organised in Medical Schools and Grammar schools, while in the City of Zaječar and the City of Leskovac, the research was conducted in the Technical School, too. During the research, a total of 15 focus-group interviews were conducted, in which 149 students participated. All respondents were 18 or 19 years old at the time of the survey, while in terms of gender structure, there were slightly more females (77 compared to 72 males). The participants recognised the importance and relevance of youth migration, showed enthusiasm and, at the same time, took the discussion seriously. The results showed that most of the participants intend to stay in Serbia, while also indicating a relatively high level of readiness to emigrate after finishing school. The intention to stay is more pronounced among the students from the City of Leskovac, which is understandable considering that this is an area where traditional family values are important. On the other hand, the intentions to emigrate are most frequent among students from the City of Zaječar, a traditional emigration area. Although the desire to aid the development of the community stands out as a significant determinant of staying, attachment to the family emerges as the main factor influencing the decision not to emigrate. When observing the respondents’ opinions according to the type of school, significant differences were noticed. Students of medical schools in all cities have to a greater extent expressed their readiness to stay in the country, which is contrary to the generally present trend of emigration of medical workers to EU countries. The research showed that students from these schools are more optimistic than students from other schools because they believe that the prospects of finding a job for their educational profile in Serbia are currently somewhat more favourable. It is important to point out that students who intend to stay in Serbia in most cases plan to continue living in one of the large regional centers – Belgrade, Novi Sad or Niš. Their decision to participate in internal migration flows can be related to the fact that they plan to continue their education in the mentioned regional centres and to stay there after graduation. It was found that students from the City of Leskovac primarily intend to continue their education in Niš, students from the City of Užice opt for faculties in Belgrade, while students from the City of Zaječar gravitate almost equally towards Belgrade and Niš. By considering the motives that influence young people’s migration intentions, it was established that economic factors have a distinct role in deciding on potential emigration. The most frequent push factor is the unfavourable financial situation in the family. When it comes to the pull-factors, the majority of respondents stated that the standard of living, higher salaries and more adequate conditions for professional development and advancement abroad are decisive for potential emigration. As to the importance of education in the process of deciding on migration, it does not appear to be a significant factor for external migration, given that a small number of students plan to continue their education abroad immediately after high school. While discussing the most significant push-factors, the participants expressed dissatisfaction with the general living conditions in Serbia. The students’ discussion about the potential destination led to the conclusion that the majority see traditional destinations of the inhabitants of Serbia as potential countries of emigration: Austria, Germany, France, the USA or Canada. When it comes to the choice of a destination, the participants emphasised the crucial importance of migration networks, i.e., connections with relatives and friends abroad. Some respondents emphasise that having relatives and acquaintances in the chosen destination country can be of great importance during integration into a new environment. Although some students emphasise that migration can improve the lives of individuals and families, the majority view emigration as a process that negatively affects the overall development of Serbia. Interestingly, the respondents in all three local government units expressed a unanimous attitude that too many resources are being invested in the development of Belgrade, while insufficient investments are directed to the planning of the development of other local governments, primarily in rural areas. Based on the discussions and exchange of opinions of focus group participants, it was possible to create certain recommendations to decision-makers to mitigate the problem of the emigration of young people. The respondents suggested several concrete measures that the state should take to improve certain aspects of life in Serbia. Their recommendations are focused, above all, on improving the economic situation, including increased monthly incomes, creating new jobs (especially for highly educated people) and encouraging youth entrepreneurship. They recognised the need for part of the investments to be directed towards rural areas in order to mitigate the effects of depopulation and economic decline. In the context of improving the education system, the recommendations call for reforms that would align education profiles with the needs of the labour market. Students in all three local governments believe that strategies and plans for future development should be tailored to the specific needs of different regions. Although the importance of youth migration is recognised at the academic level in Serbia, this phenomenon requires a more complex analysis in development and strategic documents. In this regard, qualitative research needs to intensify at the local, regional and national levels, which would enable the adoption of adequate plans, strategies and measures of population policy towards the migration of young people. The results of this paper can contribute significantly to and serve as the basis for further research on the migration processes among young people in Serbia.

Ključne riječi

migration, youth, attitudes, intentions, motives, Serbia

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Podaci na drugim jezicima: srpski

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