Migration and development is a program initiated, financed and implemented by the Soros Foundation Romania. The program aims to identify the integration patterns of external migration, as well as its effects on central and local authorities' policy and to promote patterns, which allow minimizing the negative effects and maximizing the positive ones.
The program was launched in 2006 in a specific context, right in the nick of Romania’s integration to the European Union. Romanian migration, strictly controlled by the communists, expanded during the '90s as a consequence of the migration flows as well as of the diversification of these flows from the destinations, reasons and socio-economic population structure point of view. The phenomenon seems to have an ascending trend and involves all the levels of the society, becoming one of the most important migration flows at European level. During the last years, the external migration seems to have become one of the defining phenomena for the Romanian society. Estimation issued by the Public Opinion Barometer showed that, in 2003, approximately one out of ten households was affected by migration, and in 2005 the percent grew at 16% of the households.
The available data indicate that migration has both positive and negative effects when it comes to mentalities and social aspects. Local economic development, entrepreneurial attitude and increasing tolerance within areas with high migration rates are among positive effects, whereas the negative ones consist in a rather high rate of dependence to incomes obtained from migration, abandoned children, and human trafficking.
The previous studies show that, in transition societies, the process of changing mentalities is the slowest and, frequently, the beliefs and opinion immobility annuls the effects of institutional change. At the same time, the frequent contact of the community members with foreign societies, even for a short period, may accelerate the mentality changing process.
By studying the phenomenon we can identify the situations in which the effects of international migration are positive, thus allowing intervening with public policy measures in order to create the necessary conditions for progress or to integrate the existing effects in local development strategies.
At this moment, there is no coherent and noticeable policy to integrate the effects of external migration within the community development, at none of public authorities’ levels. At the central level, bi-lateral agreements with destination countries that are proficient both at managing the migration networks and at preventing are generally initiated by the foreign partners. At this moment, Romania doesn’t have a labor force well-defined policy which to include the migration aspects. In some communities with high migration rate the local authorities have implemented some actions to prevent the adverse social effects, but the impact cannot be estimated without a preliminary research.
The program is coordinated by Iris Alexe.
Laura Husti-Răduleț and Louis Ulrich are also part of the Migration and Development team.