'Use it or lose it!' How do migration, human capital and the labour market interact in the Western Balkans?
How do the characteristics of the labour markets and education systems affect migration flows, and vice versa? This study focuses on the impact of migration on the skills pool and utilisation in the Western Balkan countries – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia – and the implications it may have for their future economic development.
‘Use it or lose it!’
How do migration, human capital and the labour market
interact in the Western Balkans?
The six Western Balkan countries (hereafter ‘the WB6’) are quite well researched in terms of migration, human capital and labour market issues. However, most of that research has focused on one topic and remained unconnected with others, thus missing the skills-related interactions among the three fields. Aiming to understand the impact of migration on the skills pool and utilisation in the WB6 and the implications it may have for their future economic development, the ETF research project ‘Migration and human capital in the Western Balkans’ brought together three areas under an integrated analytical framework.
How the characteristics of the labour markets and education systems affect migration flows, and vice versa, was the focus of the study. The project incorporated contributions from distinguished national and international researchers coordinated by the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (wiiw). During the project’s lifetime of 2020–21, a series of studies were published: six country studies (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia); one regional comparative report; and three statistical papers, namely a macro-regional econometric study of the interrelationships, an estimate of net migration flows from the WB6 by educational group in 2010–19, and labour supply and demand estimates in the WB6 for 2020–30 under different scenarios.
This paper synthesises the findings from the above studies in a compact manner and discusses the main policy options and recommendations for policy makers at national, regional and international levels. The region’s EU accession perspective is kept in mind throughout: accession negotiations with Montenegro and Serbia are already advanced, while North Macedonia and Albania continue to fulfil the conditions to open negotiations. Within this context, all six countries are part of several EU mechanisms and instruments to support their accession process both financially and technically, including the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) III and the EU’s Economic and Investment Plan for the region. The citizens of the WB6 (except Kosovo*) have also had visa-free entry into the Schengen Area since the end of 2009.
However, there is a difference between full membership and the uncertain prospects regarding the likelihood of accession, as the latter has implications for domestic political and social developments, as well as the economic decisions of international companies. Given the region’s relatively small population – a total of 18 million people in 2020 – and the low fertility rates and ageing populations in all six countries, the most prominent feature of the region from an economic point of view is its relative segmentation. This takes the form of small, fragmented political and economic units and entry barriers with regard to cross-border business linkages.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Republic of North Macedonia
- Western Balkans
- Social Sciences
Entry created by Admin WBC-RTI.info on May 2, 2022
Modified on May 2, 2022