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Journal number 3 ∘ Avtandil Sulaberidze Joseph Archvadze Vladimer Sulaberidze
The migration and potential of Georgian population from the period of gaining independence until today


The article deals with the migration processes of Georgian population during 1992-2017. Based on the materials of the general population censuses of 2002 and 2014, it analyzes the dynamics and structure of the migrants. The article also presents characteristics of the migrants, according to the directions of migration and its primary causes. On the basis of the sociological research, it studies the motivation of the migration behavior of the Georgian students as the potential migrants in terms of employment and education.

Key words: potential migration, education, employment, emigration, population census.


Georgia is among one of those countries, where external migration played and still plays an important role in the formation of population and workforce. Consequently, the article aims to briefly present positive and negative factors currently affecting the migration of the Georgian population from the quantitative as well as qualitative standpoint. In this regard, the work pays basic attention to the potential migrants, namely, to the migration behavior and motivation of the student-youth, the knowledge of which is vital and necessary in terms of social-demographic and economic viewpoint for any country, especially for the authorities and wider society of a country with a small number of population.

Research methodology 

The research of migration problems was always hindered by current recording of migration, as well as inaccurate statistical information concerning population census, especially, after the transformation of the Recording Institute in the Post-Soviet period and its replacement by the new form of registration. The thing is that the inaccurate recording of the migration is a direct result of the incorrect methodology employed until the year of 2012. Since 2012, Geostat created a new methodology of recording external migration, which significantly lowered incorrect recording of the mentioned migration. Regarding country’s internal migration, the movement of the population inside the country is no longer controlled and thus is not recorded.

Within the article, the qualitative indicators of the potential migration are primarily studied on the basis of the 2018 research conducted by the Ilia State University’s Institute of demography and sociology concerning migration problems among the student-youth, as well as on the results of researches conducted by Georgian scientists, etc.

Migration of Georgian population from the period of gaining independence until today

After the country gained its independence, the negative net migration of external migration started having an impact on the rate of size of Georgian population. As a result, lower natural increase of population cannot cover the higher negative net migration of the external migration, which leads to the decrease of the Georgian population and depopulation. According to the 2014 population census, 223 villages have become depopulated.

Emigration primarily underwent the process involving three factors: on the one hand, there occurred ethnic migration, when after the collapse of the SSSR, tens of thousands of other nationalities living in Georgia returned to their historical motherland; on the other hand, the emigration of the large masses of refugees, that came from the lost territories as a result of ethnic conflicts, stipulated the high rate of migration. The third factor was the high level of unemployment, which still exists today, caused by the social-economic collapse and family poverty.

On the verge of depopulation, under the circumstances of zero natural growth of population, the fact that emigration exceeded immigration determined not only an important reduction of the population, but also the deformation of age-sex structure (increase of demographic aging) and change in the national contingent. Emigration is especially intensive among the members of the population who are capable of working and are in an active reproductive age.

Since April of 2017, the introduction of the visa-free travel regime within the countries of the European Union, gave a new impulse to the dynamic of migration process. It is true that by regulations the total annual duration of the days one can spend on the territory of the European Union is limited by 90 days, although not a small number of those people who left the country (more than 4 thousand Georgian citizens) have already “managed” to violate the above-mentioned time limit and have exceeded the period of their stay on the territory of the European Union.

If during 1990-2000, the negative external net migration amounted, on average, to -19.2 individuals annually on every 1000 souls of the population; the same figure substantially decreased in the years of 2000-2017, although its intensity still remains fairly high (-8.5). Therefore, we have witnessed the reduction of the negative net migration lately, which indicates, on the one hand, to the quantitative changes in the emigrational and Immigration flows, and on the other hand, to the probable decrease of the number of potential emigrants.

Despite the fact that after the middle of the 1990s, the economic development of Georgia acquired the characteristics of stabilization, and according to certain years, there even occurred a double figure economic growth (1996, 1997, 2003, and 2007); this has actually not had any substantial impact on the migration flows of the population. In the aftermath of gaining the independence, the emigration of the population takes place with different intensity, especially among those individuals who are most capable of working and are in a reproductive age. Amongst those people who left the country, 85% are between 20 and 50 years of age, whereas the share of the mentioned age group in the total Georgian population is only 40.2%.The key to the explanation of this phenomenon lies in the structure of employment and the number of jobs. Compared to the beginning of the 1990s, in 2014 the population of the country decreased by 1740 thousand individuals, and the number of the hired workers by 1436 thousand, which is 82.5% of the reduced population. As of today, the share of the hired workers in the population is nearly 2 times lower than it was in the beginning of the 1990s (22.2% and 41.4% respectively). For the purpose of comparing, in the USA, where the number of the hired employees is especially high, and the correlation between the hired employees and the self-employed individuals is approximately 8:1 (in Georgia 1:1.5), the share of the hired workers, in this country, does not exceed 45% of the total number of the population. The analogous indicator of Georgia during the beginning of the 1990s was quite near to the mentioned American figure (41.4%), whereas today it lags behind 2.2 times and more.

On the contemporary stage the migration processes of Georgia are essentially associated with the neoclassical theory of migration. Inasmuch as the Georgian economy is characterized by the high share of labor compared to the capital, and a low market salary. At the same time, the developmentally advanced countries of Europe stand out by the low share of labor in comparison to the capital, and the high salary for the hired individuals. Exactly this distinction compels Georgian population toward emigration to the highly developed foreign countries. The decrease of the work force together with its human capital did not lead to a significant growth of their salary in Georgia. In spite of the fact that the Georgian emigrants (especially illegal workers) working in the highly developed foreign countries, receive a smaller salary, compared to Georgian standards, in those countries the salary of even the dilettante workers still significantly exceeds the existing income of those people who are toiling at a highly qualified jobs in Georgia. This is the main reason why the emigrants refrain from returning to their motherland.

Besides economic factors, emigration from Georgia is also associated with such social-demographic factors of sociological theories as are: receiving education, exile, the desire to live in better conditions, etc. These factors significantly determine the positives of migration in the receiving developed countries and the negatives in Georgia. Consequently the bigger the difference between the positive and negative factors of migration, the higher is the expected emigration toward other countries and the possibility of staying there.

During 1960-2000, on average, the absolute size of the external migration’s negative net, as well as intensity increased steadily throughout decades, and Georgian population lost more than 1404 thousand people as a result of outer migration. The 1990s were especially important for Georgia, when, according to various estimations, Georgian population lost substantially more people from external migration than they did during the previous 30-year period. Based on the data of estimations, during 1990-2000, Georgia lost 19% (1026 thousand people) of the quantity of population in 1989 from external migration, that is, nearly every fifth of the population went away from the county [Tsuladze G. 2007: 61-67].

When we talk about the modern period of migration, we must pay attention to the general population censuses conducted in Georgia in 2002 and 2014, the results of which are assessed differently by specialists. According to the results of the 2002 census, the quantity of Georgian emigrants amounted to 113.7 people, and in 2014 census much less – 88541 individuals. In both instances the figures are illogical and incorrect. The thing is, at the same time, according to the calculations of the statistics department of Georgia the negative net of external migration amounted to 930 thousand people in Georgia between the census periods of 1989-2001 [Population of Georgia. Statistical collection, 2003: 67]. Regarding the years in 2002-2014, because of the incorrect recording methodology, the figure was positive 24 thousand, whereas based on the assessing indicator, the net migration was negative – 320 thousand people [Tsuladze G... 2016: 18]. Therefore, the intensity of migration in Georgia was higher before 2000 than since 2002.

The above-mentioned is confirmed by the figure 1 below, which shows the dynamic of calculated and pre-calculated data of 1994-2014 net migration derived from the results of the population censuses of 2002 and 2014. Distinctions in the migration balance, according to certain years, are crystal clear, especially during 1994-2002.


Figure 1The dynamic of the net migration of Georgian population 1994-2015

Note: evaluative data during 2002-2011projection by Tsuladze G.; since 2012 based on the data of the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ border police.

The negative balance of external migration, according to Geostat’s official data, before recalculation, amounted to 135.2 thousand people in total during 1990-2000 periods. After recalculation, the net migration became 879.5 thousand for the same period, that is, 6.5 times more! The transition to a new methodology of recording migration by Geostat from 2012 determined the improvement of migration indicators; the result is that since 2013, both indicators (official and evaluative) of the net migration, more or less, coincide with each other.

Despite incomplete recording of migrants during 2002 and 2014 population censuses, it gives us certain idea on the qualitative characteristics of external migration, and can be used in order to explain the migration behavior of emigrants and immigrants.

The dynamic of migrants’ circulation in light of their gender during 2002-2014, where we can discern that, among males, emigrants exceeded immigrants until 2013 and their quantity became equal during 2013 and 2015, whereas in 2017 the number of immigrants overtook and exceeded that of emigrants. As the structure of the immigrants shows us, the majority are Georgian citizens, which indicates to their growing desire to return home. With regard to the tendency of reduction of male emigrants during the last 3 years since 2015, it is possible to suppose, on the one hand, that there occurred decrease in their quantitative potential and on the other hand, it refers to the change of their migration behavior.

As opposed to men, emigrants still exceed immigrants among women and unlike men, the analogous reverse process does not occur among women for the time being. However, based on the age structure of emigrants in 2017; there is a tangible prevalence (5.3%) of women above the age of 65 in comparison to men (2.2%). This gives us ground to suppose that there will be more people willing to return to their homeland. Even more so, by 2017, among the immigrants above the age of 65, the share of women (7.3%) was substantially higher than that of men (3.1%).

Consequently, the quantity of pensioners is expected to grow in the next 5 years, which will add on to the harsh social conditions in the country and make them even more stressful. Therefore, the government of the country must necessarily take into account the above-mentioned during the transition to the new pension system.

It is noteworthy that according to the 2014 population census, the number of teachers increased among women emigrants, and they constituted a majority. Their profession makes it easier for them to get jobs as babysitters, caretakers, servants and other occupations abroad which require low qualification and are typical of the secondary labor market. Those kinds of jobs are rejected by the local population who possess higher education. Despite the fact that by working in emigration on low-qualification jobs, they experience disqualification, in comparison to the income they receive at home, they are compensated for by 4.5 times higher salary in the receiving country, which forces them to agree to endure cabal, exploitative conditions of their new jobs. On top of that, they have families at home who are dependent on the salaries of emigrants. Not taking into consideration various taxes, the money earned by the emigrants abroad is used for financing their children’s education, treatment of their parents and relatives. Among the difficulties encountered abroad, those women primarily emphasize the predicaments of getting used to harsh climate and hardships of taking care of their health because of the stressful working environment. 84% of the returned women and 91% of the men declared that before going in emigration their health was in good shape, but after leaving their country 50% of the women and 39% of the men experienced deterioration of their health. The reasons for the deterioration of the women’s health are stressful working conditions (50%), as well as unhealthy social environment (12%) and humidity of the foreign climate. The share of the women who became ill with neurosis is quite large among those females [Shelia M. 2017: 122-124].

Based on the population censuses of 2002 and 2014, compared to 2002, in 2014, in the age structure of women as well as men emigrants, there occurred a distinctive growth of people aged 15-64 and the share of the age group above 65. This phenomenon, to some extent, confirms the above-mentioned about the increase of the number of those emigrants who want to return to their homeland. Under these circumstances, the reduction of the share of immigrants under the age of 15, in our opinion, must basically be caused by the increase of their age, and transition into the age group of 15-64 and less by the return to homeland together with their parents. Moreover, the high indicator of immigration of male and female individuals below the age group of 15 must be caused, on the one hand by the birth of emigrants in the receiving country during 1990s, and on the other hand by taking an underage family member (child) in emigration by the family.

With regard to the age-sex structure of the emigrants during 2002-2014, we can say that the number of the emigrants below 65 among both men and women is more or less stable, whereas the share of the emigrants above 65 is decreasing. The mention fact can be explained by those emigrants’ overcoming various difficulties (finding a job, studying, solving the issues of everyday living conditions, acquiring the status of a refugee or citizenship, etc.) in the receiving country and their desire to not return to their homeland for the time being or at all. The decrease in the number of emigrants above the age of 65, as was mentioned before, is associated, on the one hand, with the reduction of the potential of those population who want to emigrate abroad and who are above 65 in Georgia, and on the other hand, with the issue of immigration age. However, other causes (illness, nostalgia for the family members, etc.) must not be excluded.

As a result of the age-sex changes of the 2002-2014 migrants, the age-sex pyramid of 2014 Georgian migrants has the following form (Fig. 2).


Figure 2Age-sex pyramid of the migrants in 2014.

Created in accordance with the data of the 2002-2014 Georgian population censuses As opposed to 2002, by 2014 the share of Georgians in the national structure of emigrants rose from 60.9 to 83.8%, especially among women (from 56.3 to 87.2%) and the share of other nationalities decreased: Azerbaijanians to 5.9%, Armenians to 5.0%, Russians to 0.9%, Ossetians to 0.7%, Greeks to 0.4%. At the same time, until 2000, the majority of these nationalities returned to their homeland (except for Ossetians, whose considerable portion remained on the territories of Akhalgori and Tskhinvali after the 2008 war between Russia and Georgia), and today their emigration abroad, together with Georgians, is primarily determined by employment and improvement of their financial conditions. Simultaneously, there was an increase in the number of those emigrants who went abroad in order to study (from 6.6 to 11.0%), reunite with their families or create a new family.

The increase in the number of those people who wanted to create a new family or return to their families is not surprising in the light of living abroad for a longer period of time. If by 2000, up to 40% of emigrants lived abroad for more than 5 years, by 2014, this figure rose to 68.8%. In comparison to those people, the share of the emigrants who lived abroad up to 5 years decreased from 58.0% in 2002 to 18.5% in 2014. This indicates to the significant decrease in the emigrants’ potential in Georgia.

By 2014, 70,8% of the emigrants worked, 10.3% studied, 5.6% searched for a job, and a small portion underwent treatment (1.7%), as well as used social assistance (1.1%). 7,1% of them has different reasons for being abroad and 3.4% did not specify as to their motivation for emigrating.

It is noteworthy that if by 2002, 64.1% of the total number of emigrants lived in Russian Federation, by 2014, after the war between Russia and Georgia, their number dwindled 2.5 times. The decrease in the number of women (from 56.7% to 11.5%) as well as men (from 69.4% to 34%) was also stipulated by the strict visa regime imposed by Russia against Georgian citizens. Under these circumstances, the number of the migrants living abroad remained the same in Turkey (11.3%), and increased in Italy (10.9%), in Germany (7.1%), in the USA (5.7%), in Spain (4.1%), in France (3.7%) and in other countries. Furthermore, the migrants, in the light of gender, are represented in the following way: the largest number of men (39.9%) lives in Russian Federation; their share in other countries varies from 3 to 8%. As regards women, the largest number live in Greece (24.1%), then come Italy (17.0%), Turkey (13.8%), Russia (11.5%), Germany (7.1%), and the USA (5.3%). Their number in other countries is below 4%.

It is apparent from the data of the 2014 population census that from the total number of the emigrants with higher, professional and secondary education almost half (49.3%) with the share of more than 10% are represented in the following countries: in Russia (21.6%), in Greece (16.2%), in Turkey (11.5%), and in Italy (11.1%). Among those people 64.4% of the ones possessing higher education live in Russia, Italy, Greece, Germany and the USA. Unfortunately, the majority of these people are principally illegal migrants working in the spheres of teaching, engineering, medicine and technical fields. However, they do not employ their own occupation, and therefore, occupy the place in the secondary labor market, which causes their actual disqualification. Additionally, because of the high demand of the specialists with higher education in Russia, the number of migrants would have been even higher if it was not for the strict visa regime with Russia and the deportation of emigrants in 2010.

Furthermore, based on the analysis of the material of the 2014 population census, we can assert that on every level of educational structure, the biggest share of those emigrants who have higher education live in Germany, USA, Italy, Greece, Spain and France. As opposed to them, the largest share of the emigrants with professional education falls on Greece, Russia and Italy. With regard to the emigrants who possess only secondary education, their number in Russia exceeds that of other countries, and they are highly represented in the general structure of educational levels.

In connection to the emigration from regions abroad, albeit the fact that the data of the 2014 population census is not complete in terms of emigration, it still presents some insight. According to the data of 2002-2014, in majority of cases, (88.5 thousand individuals) women emigrants exceed that of the number of men, and a city population emigrated more often than that of a village. The intensity of emigration is the highest from the regions of Imereti, Tbilisi and Kvemo Kartli. Guria, Adjara, Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti are characterized by a relatively low intensity of emigration. The high intensity of emigration from the regions is stipulated by a relatively big population (high potential of emigration), and a low level of life – poverty. In contrast to Adjara, a small size of population, together with poverty, a high level of aging and consequently, the decrease in potential migrants in Guria, Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti determined the low intensity of emigration from those regions. With respect to Adjara, the low level of emigration here is primarily determined by a relatively high income generated from its resort potential, “pendulum migration”, established as a result of neighboring Turkey, actually excludes a long-term migration, etc.

Generally, more than a million individuals took part in the inner migration in Georgia (assuming all those people who changed their permanent place of residence within the borders of Georgia). The majority of the inner migrants fall on Tbilisi (33.1%) and then Imereti (15.1%), Samegrelo-Svaneti (9.6%) and Kakheti (8.6%), which is stipulated by a high level of unemployment in those regions. The least number of the inner migrants come from the regions of Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti (1.1%), Mtskheta-Mtianeti (3.3%) and Guria, where, despite a high level of unemployment and poverty, the low number of migrants stems from a high level of demographic aging.

Potential migrationof students in the near 5 years (2018-2023)

(General results of the research)

The general population censuses of the 2002 and 2014 manifested that among the factors for emigrating abroad the two factors are essentially highlighted: employment and the motivation to receive education. Taking into consideration the fact that in upper ages the migration potential of population gradually diminishes, whereas in youngsters, especially among students, the motivation for going abroad is prominent, it is interesting to get their opinions as potential migrants about the possible motives, reasons and factors of going abroad.

It became clear that 42.7% of the interviewed students plan on going abroad. Provided there are more than 100 thousand students in Georgia, it follows that approximately 43-45 thousand students are determined to leave the country. The average duration for studying at university level (baccalaureate, master’s) is nearly 4-5 years, taking into account the number of the relevant contingent. Consequently, the contingent of those students who want to go abroad reaches over 10 thousand on every course. At the time when, recently, the average number of the youngsters enrolled at higher educational institutions is within 30-35 thousand.

It must be noted that the two main motives for exiting the country are receiving-increasing education and getting a job. The share of the people who have those two motives is more than 9/10 of the ones willing to go abroad. Approximately 3/5 of the people willing to go abroad plan on leaving within the next 3 years, and 2/3 of them are determined to leave later. The motivation to exit the country is higher among women than among men; as a result, 59.6% of the interviewed student men and 52.0% of the women (on average – 55.6%) are prepared to stay in the country.

Long-standing statistics of the world migration bears witness as to the fact that the half of the migrants do not return home. The results of the mentioned research wholly fit into this context, according to which nearly half of the people (49.8%) willing to go abroad plan to return to their homeland. 47.0% of the ones willing to go abroad plan to make a decision about staying abroad after graduating. 3.4% of the students reach a final decision to not return to their homeland.

If we consider the number of the whole contingent of students, 5 thousand of the ones who are willing to go abroad annually will make a decision whether to return or not after finishing their studies abroad. Among those youngsters, 350-400 have already made up their mind about not returning to Georgia. Based on the fact that the negative migration balance of Georgian citizens annually amounts to nearly 15 thousand, we can assert that approximately 1/3 of those students consists of the contingent who have just finished their university studies, as a rule first stage (baccalaureate) in Georgia and are leaving the country to seek education and “try their luck”.

In contrast to the usual labor migrants, whose motivation to go abroad is based on the wish to improve their trivial financial conditions, students’ decision, as the above-mentioned data confirmed, carries a “binary” character – study and work (or both at the same time).

It merits mention that there is not a single clearly defined factor in the motivation to go abroad. Several circumstances play defining role here. For example, 34.2% assumes that there are more chances to find a job in Georgia once you get your diploma abroad; 12.1% thinks that going abroad to study will give them an opportunity to find a job and stay there to live. On top of that, among men to find a job is a prevalent motive, whereas women prefer to employ themselves in studying.

The geography of exiting the country possesses multiple vectors and people primarily are ready to depart for Germany (37.2%), the USA (16.8%), the United Kingdom (11.4%), Italy (5.4%), France and Russia (3.4%).

The survey showed that nearly every fifth student (21.3%) does not speak any other (foreign) languages save their own native tongue. Approximately half of the students (48.8%) know English language, 22.4% speak Russian and 6.6% know German. In addition to that, 14.9% of the students are proficient in two languages and 3.4% in three. Among those students who know Russian 56% also speaks another foreign language (51.9% speaks English and 4.1% German).

Almost 3/5 of those who know English plans on moving to the countries (the USA, the United Kingdom), where English is an official language. For the rest of them, knowledge of English is the means to enhance their education or find work in other countries. In this respect, Germany deserves to be highlighted because of the fact that the contingent wanting to go there exceeds 5.6 times the number of those students who are among the goers and also speak the language (37.2% and 6.6% respectively)

In contrast to the mentioned, the number of people who want to go to Russia is 6.6 times lower than the number of those who speak Russian language. Among large countries, Russia is the only one, where significantly less people want to go as opposed to the number of those who know Russian. In the same way, the number of those individuals who want to depart for Turkey exceeds nearly 1.6 times the number of those youngsters who know Turkish language (2.4% and 1.4% respectively).

Amongst those people who know a foreign language, the quotient of knowing a language is 1.18, which lags behind the average European indicator by almost 1.4 times (European Union – 1.6 and more). It is interesting that 60% of the students of European Union knew 2 and more languages in 2017. Furthermore, according to the situation in 2007 only 6% of the students did not know any languages.

According to the 2017 data, the unemployment level among the youth below 25 years-of-age is 28.9%, whereas among the rest of the population it is 2.3 times less and only 12.4%. Moreover, the number of those who receive salaries within the students’ age range of 16-24 is only 16.3%, whereas the same indicator for people aged 25 and above is 1.8 times higher and amounts to 29.2%.

Therefore, low salary and generally unsatisfactory level of well-being, as well as a low perspective of finding a job and a high rate of unemployment among the youth are the primary factors, which substantially increase the youngster’s motivation to go abroad. Despite the fact that today the contingent of those students who want to stay home exceeds almost 1.3 times the number of those students who plan on going abroad, from among the goers, who have a distinctly determined time limit for staying abroad, the average time period of being abroad is limited by nearly 2.5 years. However, it forces one to ponder that 43.4% of the goers do not have an established determination about when they are going to return home. 3.9% confess openly that they are permanently leaving Georgia, just when about 10 years ago the share of such a contingent constituted 2.8% [Chelidze N. 2008: 103].

For a country like Georgia, which does not include a large number of population, the readiness of the contingent of several tens of thousands of youngsters to go abroad and stay there, poses a serious threat to the social-economic and demographic development of the country.

Motivation for education

As the research showed us, within the structure of the Georgian students’ educational needs the economic and business-administrative occupations are prominent (45.6%). In addition, girls (46.7%) choose these specialties more often than boys (44.5%). According to the chosen specialties, girls exceed boys in terms of natural sciences and social-political fields. Humanities are equally chosen between the two genders, whereas in other fields, especially in the field of engineering, the number of the boys exceeds that of the girls. It must be stressed that the boys essentially study in the field of agriculture, which supposedly and sadly indicates that the girls are less interested in the fields of agriculture and in small business.

Among the students who wish to go abroad, 26.9% of them intend to leave only in order to continue their studies. However, the majority of those youngsters (59.0%) plan to mix studying with a job. The share of the girls (63.6%) who want to go abroad only for their studies is almost twice (1.7 times) the number of the boys.

Among those students who went abroad to study, 13.2% gave primacy to those countries, where they expected a close relative or a friend to be living, who would assist them if necessary. Those students who went abroad to continue studying, basically, took into consideration the following factors while deciding on a country: the existence of the university or college where he/she wanted to carry on studying in the chosen country – 40.6%, more possibilities of acquiring professional experience – 19.8%, more chances of employment – 17.6%; it is notable that the majority of the students (40.6%), essentially, choose the country according to the desired university or college existing in the mentioned country. Under these circumstances, the fact that 53.5% of the students have not chosen a university yet carries a negative character.

From amongst the criteria of choosing a university or a college, students, primarily, took into account the following factors: more chances of studying and working – 32.2%, the opportunities to take part in various grant programs – 11.2%, more chances of internship – 10.6%. It is notable that 28.8% of the respondents did not answer to the survey questions, which, in our opinion, indicates to the fact that they neglected the criteria of choosing an educational institution.

It is interesting that the majority of the students (62.9%) want to continue studying on a master’s program, 10.1% on doctoral programs, 2.2% on a medical residency, and 13.7% on various short-term programs, which point to the students’ desire to get a high level professional education. In this regard, it must be mentioned that only 9.4% of the students plan to carry on studying abroad on bachelor programs.

It is also interesting that 65.5% of the students intend to continue studying in the field of already acquired profession, 23.2% plan on choosing a related occupation, 17.3% go for professions with a larger profile, and 5.6% plan to change their profession.

Based on the results of the research, 56.4% of the interviewed students plan to return to their homeland, 50.2% will reach a decision whether to return or not after finishing their studies, and 3% do not intend to return at all. If we consider the issue in light of gender, the following picture will emerge: 52.6% of the girls and 45.7% of the boys will return in any case; 45.3% of the girls and 49.6% of the boys will make a decision about returning after they graduate; 2.1% of the girls and 4.7% of the boys do not want to return to their country.

If we consider that a certain portion (even small) of the students will reach a decision to not return to their country after graduating, it is possible that a fairly large number of youngsters will stay abroad. This, on the one hand, will reduce the indicator of population reproduction, which is low as it is, in terms of demography, and on the other hand, in terms of economy, the country will lose a human capital possessing a high education [International Migration Report 2015 Highlights UN New York, 2016].

Labor emigration

Today, the level of unemployment within the age group of below 25 is 28.9%, whereas in the population aged above 25 the same indicator is 2.3 times lower and constitutes only 12.4%. In comparison to the other part of the population, the level of economic activity is 1.6 times lower among youngsters (44.3% and 69.3% respectively) and almost twice as low the level of employment (31.6% and 60.7% respectively). Amongst the youngsters aged below 25 only every third is employed and every sixth is a hired worker. This fact essentially increases the motivation within the mentioned age group to emigrate for labor.

6.7% of the interviewed students intend to go abroad exclusively in order to start working; the number of those people who plan to go abroad in order to mix studies and work is nearly 4 times higher than the above-mentioned contingent.

The survey showed that a substantial number (44.5%) of the advanced bachelor and master’s students are studying and working simultaneously. According to the most cautious estimations, the number of the employed students in Georgia exceeds 30-35 thousand, which is a third of the whole contingent of students.

The average monthly income of the students is fairly low, approximately 480 GEL (479.8 GEL), because of their improper qualification, a random or a part-time job. This figure is substantially – nearly 2.2 times - lower compared to the income of those people who are employed in the national industry.

To the following question: after graduation, when being offered a job, what would be a minimum salary that you would agree to? According to the interviewed students’ answers, the indicator of the estimated average salary amounted to 837 GEL. This figure exceeds almost by ¾ to the actual average salary of the employed students (480 GEL). However, the mentioned figure lags behind the existing average monthly salary at the time of the survey by almost ¼.

In this regard, according to the data of 2017, the level of unemployment among the youth aged below 25, compared to the other part of the population, is 2.3 times higher as was mentioned before. Besides, the number of students receiving a salary among the age range of 16-24 is only 16.3%, whereas among the population aged 25 and above the said figure is 1.8 times higher and reaches 29.2%.

Within the next 3 years, because of the low salary in the country, nearly every fourth of the employed students (24.4%) intends to go abroad. This figure substantially exceeds the data derived from the analogous research 10 years ago, (in 2008 – 17.4%) [Chelidze N. 2008: 103].

In case of going abroad, more than half of those students (50.3%) already employed think that the most acceptably type of work for them is based on the employment according to their own occupation; 17.2% of the students think that the main factor is a high-paying job. According to the survey of 2008, 58.8% of the students were willing to work on an illegal job in case of emigration if they could not arrange for a legal one [Chelidze N. 2008: 103]. Our research came to the conclusion that in case they cannot find a legal job abroad, a significant number of them (62%) does not plan to start working illegally.

The students are only going to agree to work abroad if their salary will, approximately, be at least 1000 dollars. This figure exceeds the average salary in Georgia nearly 2.5 times, and 5 and more times - to the actual salary of the employed students in their own country. The survey showed that the higher the students’ salary in their homeland, the more their demands toward the salary abroad.

The correlation of the foreign salary with the actual figure earned at home is multiple times more. In particular, on average, after finishing studies, a student is willing to start working in his/her own country for the salary of minimum 837 GEL, whereas when starting a job abroad the corresponding minimal bar, calculated in Georgian Lari, exceeds 2500 GEL (3 times more). In addition, this difference is the higher the lower the figure of the salary earned at home. For instance, among the employees who earn 300 GEL this difference amounts to 8.35:1, whereas among those who earn more than 1000 GEL the mentioned figure reaches nearly 2.7:1. The expectation of a high salary abroad is fairly great among the students, which indicates that if the difference between the indicators of the high and low-paying jobs of the students in their homeland is approximately 3.3:1, as a result of starting a job abroad, the difference between the figures of the probable salaries there is within the boundaries of 30%. This fact should be considered as the reflection of the respondents’ high optimism and the expectations which are great, although not guaranteed.

The motivation of the student-youth to go abroad is unambiguously associated with their financial position. This reason, as a motive to exit the country, was given by nearly 4/5 (78.6%) of the responding students. The contingent of the people who want to leave their homeland is especially large among those students who see a lack of prospect in terms of finding a suitable job (47.5% of the interviewed and 48.6% of the responding youth). In terms of making a comparison, only every tenth of the interviewed students mentioned the simplification of the visa regime as the motive to leave the country. Furthermore, while mentioning various motives (hard financial position of a family, wish to save up some money); the salaries of the employed students did not vary significantly from each other (approximately within the range of 1000 GEL). In our opinion, this is caused by the existential threat of the impossibility of finding a job in own country.

In case of going abroad to work, most students – nearly half (49.8%) – associate the prospect of a future job with their own occupation, which exceeds by almost 3-3 times other acceptable circumstances.

The salary of those students who intend to go abroad to continue working is considerably higher (by nearly 20%) than the salary of those students who are employed in their country (580 and 480 GEL respectively). This indicates to the rather big motivations and ambitions of the contingent of the students who want to leave the country.

The fact that the motivation for labor migration is great in Georgia, exerts a serious influence not only on the demographic structure of the country’s population, but also on the size of the money transactions conducted by the labor migrants in order to send money to Georgia. Currently, among the population older than 15, the share of the youth younger than 25 is 15%, in the economically active population the figure is 9.4%, and in the economically inactive population - 22.8%. With this in mind, by the most cautious estimations, 12-15% of the money transfers conducted from abroad to Georgia fall on the mentioned age group. In other words, only during 2011-2017, the youngsters aged below 25 conducted money transactions from abroad amounting to at least 1.1-1.4 billion US dollars. This figure is 2.4-3.0 times higher than the size of the budget allocations expended from the budget of Georgia on higher education during the same period, and is equal to the size of the income received by the whole Georgian population during one calendar quarter. As we can observe, the size of the transactions is quite solid, although, on the whole, against the background of the losses, which are caused by the mass drain of the energetic, ambitious and competent youth, because of the lack of employment in their own country, the effectiveness, economic and social profitability of the mentioned transactions are significantly less noticeable.


The contribution of Georgia to the world’s international migration far exceeds (nearly 20 times!) the share of its population within the world population. Nowadays, approximately 1% of the world’s migrants come on Georgia. This fact indicates to the high mobility of the Georgian population.

Until 2030, against the background of the positive net migration of the developed countries, negative net migration remains to be Georgia’s essential tendency in terms of external migration. Nevertheless, because of the decline in the migration potential, it is expected that the negative balance will decrease quantitatively in time. Therefore, the developed countries will still retain the status of the receiving country, and Georgia will remain the distributor of migrants. By 2040, the net migration of the external migration of Georgia is expected to be within the boundaries of a zero, that is, the quantity of goers and comers will become equal.

In this regard, it is necessary to formulate a long-term and effective national migration policy for the optimization of the internal and external migration processes (which the country never before possessed), where the primary importance must be attached to creating appropriate conditions in order for emigrants to return, as well as to solving the problems of youth. 


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