Labour migration – economics vs psychology

Ukrainian border in Porubne, source Wikimedia Commons

Ukraine – mise en perspective
An old saying states that a governor »s being at power should solely be judged according to how the territory and population of his state increases during his ruling. Nowadays, when preserving national borders has become one of the fundamental principles of international law, it is rather the quality of living of population that serves as the ultimate criteria for such judgment. 
Labour migration has always been a natural process, described in different economic studies. But it can only be sustainable to the point when migration flows become massive and start affecting the organization of society, becoming an « empoisoned gift » for migrant »s families – just as it is now happening in Ukraine.
When a family has to concentrate on survival, it cannot afford itself long-term planning. In well-organized states this function is to a certain extent attributed to government, which takes responsibility for long-term plans. Meanwhile, when the whole state system focuses on short- and medium-term, the consequences come up self-driven and can endanger the next generation of a country »s population. Unfortunately, such tendency is not clearly perceived in Ukraine, because significant volumes of work remittances – reaching up to 5% of Ukrainian GDP – help migrants » families to reach a higher living standard in a short-term.


The cost-benefit analysis of sustainable migration involves also sociological and psychological issues. The first question concerns the prospective size of the next generation. It is well-known that Ukrainian migration to Western Europe has a female face – statistics show that in the Western regions of Ukraine, between 60 % and 70 % of labor migrants are women. A woman »s decision of migration significantly postpones the moment of having a child, sometimes turning it into a never-coming dream. Studies dedicated to calculating the rate of « unborn » children – based on statistical projections – show that in 2000 alone Ukraine could have 4402 more newborns than it actually had. Fertility rates are decreasing as women lack an appropriate social environment for active family developing.
The role of a woman in a traditional Ukrainian family has always been extremely important, perceived as a core « foundation » of the family. In those families, where mothers leave as work-migrants, the emotional distance grows and results in a complete change of a family model, even though sometimes kids in such families may enjoy the benefits of a better financial support. The « transnational » family model and its consequences in transmission of values to future generation started being studied only recently.  So far, the evidence implies that such families change the traditional social patterns and promote the development of psychological adjustment mechanisms in children.
And finally comes the least traceable tendency in the deep changes occurring in the society: the habit of non-long-term thinking causes « migrants » mentality » as it may be called. This phenomenon is characterized by the fact that migrants gradually loose the feeling of being part of civil society, and the incentive to fight for rights and freedoms. The philosophy of migration of illegal workers starts determining their way of thinking, behaving in the public sphere, as well as the social values that parents transfer to their children. At the point when such tendency reaches its « critical mass » and starts affecting national mentality the process may become irreversible…
Anna Gorbatova

Catégories : Citoyenneté, migrations, frontières