TIRANA, Nov. 30, 2023 – About 13 percent of Albania’s resident working-age population is likely going to leave the country in the next few years unless immediate measures are taken to increase local incomes and lower the cost of living, a report by the Albanian Institute for International Studies warns.
The report, based on an April 2023 national survey as well as an expert analysis, notes that a considerable part of Albania’s young and working-age resident population continues to have a desire to leave the country in pursuit of better opportunities abroad, with a steady stream of people making firm plans and preparations to leave the country either temporarily or permanently.
The data on pervasive narratives on desire to emigrate continue to be worryingly high, the report notes.
The survey found that the desire to leave the country remains very high, with more than two in three working age residents of Albania saying they would consider leaving the country if given the chance to do so. Another half say they could see themselves out of the country five years from now, with 13 percent having concrete plans to leave.
“The desire to emigrate by such a high number of people is worrisome and indicates that emigration will continue from a resident population that has already shrunk and aged considerably in the past three decades,” said Andi Balla, the report’s author.
The report, which includes the input from top migration and economic experts, recommends that Albanian authorities should act quickly to provide tangible benefits to people most likely to emigrate, addressing push factors. Such actions could include the lowering of the cost of living by removing taxes on basic goods and acting to increase competition and productiveness of the economy while lowering corruption and improving governance in order to rapidly increase wages and improve the quality of local employment opportunities.
The report’s key findings were presented at a regional conference in late November on “Migration, depopulation and instability — the silent approaching crisis”.
Attending the conference in Tirana, Dr. Klaus Fiesinger, the Regional Director for Southeast Europe of Hanns Seidel Foundation, which funded the survey and report, noted the growing attention the issue of migration has not just in Albania but also in the entire region.
Dr. Albert Rakipi, AIIS chairman, noted that in addition to obvious economic and social issues that stem from such a high number of people leaving the country, the issue of emigration in Albania has now become an issue of general security in the country.
“The report makes recommendations on addressing these issues, and these will be forwarded to government bodies, which should heed the advice,” Rakipi said.
Experts warn that Albania’s continued high emigration is not ebbing more than 30 years after the fall of communism. It is instead accelerating, helped, in part, by a trifecta of economic and social hits: a massive earthquake in 2019, the disruption of the 2020-2022 pandemic and the 2022-2023 inflation and economic crisis. Unsurprisingly, predictions are grim for the country’s demographics. International institutions forecast Albania could be down to 2.1 million people by the end of the century, down 50 percent from its high point of 3.3 million in 1990.