6th IZA/ASE Workshop on EU Enlargement
and the Labor Markets

BULGARIAN LABOUR ISSUES
AND LABOUR MOBILITY TO
THE EU
Prof. D. Sc. Rossitsa Rangelova
Economic Research Institute
Bulgarian Academy of Sciences
Bucharest, 25-26 November 2013
Basic points:
- Bulgaria was among the most concerned countries
in the Balkan region regarding the socio-economic
crisis in the 1990s in terms of the so-called push
factor.
- People in Bulgaria are strongly inclined to emigrate.
The experience of the country is indicative of
migration trends and specificity from and in the
Southeastern Europe, which could provide reliable
implications for useful conclusions and an adequate
migration policy both in the national and the
international perspective.
Regarding participation of migrants in foreign
labour markets, three basic groups can be divided:



those who are connected with the 'brain drain'
phenomenon
legal labour migrants
and illegal migrants
Two main types of migration channels can be
distinguished: permanent migration, and temporary,
including circulation.
The paper is focused on the legal labour
migrants, for which the differences evolve
mainly from professional specificity.
BULGARIA: Scale of migration
Period - year
Number
1989
218 000 (8 981 000)
1990-1992
252 000
1993-2000
221 000
Total 1989-2000
691 000
Total 1989-2005
716 000 (7 761 000)
Government’s estimates on the number of
Bulgarian immigrants by country, 2008




Destination country
USA
Spain
Greece







United Kingdom
Germany
Italy
Canada
Austria
Total number
Number of immigrants from Bulgaria
Around 200,000
Over 120,000
Around 110,000
(non-official 200,000)
Over 60,000
Over 50,000
Around 50,000
Around 45,000
Around 25,000
Around 700,000
Today Bulgaria remains among the
main

migrant sending countries in the EU. The
global financial and economic crisis has
severely affected Bulgaria this has led to a
sharp increase in numbers of emigrants since
2009 while there is no clear evidence of return
migration (as the theoretical rules and past
practices show).
Bulgaria: External migration - total,
2007-2012 (number), NSI
Immigrants
in the
country
Emigrants
from the
country
Migration
increase
2007
1,561
2,958
-1,397
2008
1,236
2,112
-876
2009
3,310
19,039
-15,729
2010
3,518
27,708
-24,190
2011
4,722
9.517
-4,795
2012
14,103
16,615
-2,512
It is indicative that parents in
Bulgaria

strongly encourage their children to migrate.
Nearly 90% of the persons surveyed by the
NSI in 2001 declared that they encourage their
children to study or work abroad. The
percentage of people urging their children to
resettle abroad is lower than the proportion of
those who push them to study or work abroad,
but nevertheless it remains very high - nearly
55%.
Possible positive effects of migration
in sending countries:




• Inflow of remittances benefiting
receiving individuals and countries
•Emigration may reduce
unemployment in some sectors
• Investments from diasporas and
returnees
• Improvement of human capital of
migrants / returnees
Possible negative effects of migration
in sending countries:
 • Loss of highly skilled workers
followed by reduced growth and
productivity
 • Reduced quality and availability of
essential services (e.g. medical and
social services, education)
 • Labour force withdrawal by migrant
family members receiving
remittances
Possible negative effects of migration
in sending countries:




Progressive ageing and increased
dependency ratio
• Neglected care for children and elderly
left behind
• Lower school performance and
enrolment of children left behind
• Family disintegration
Basic demographic indicators, 2012
Population - to 31.12
(thousand)
Share of urban population (%)
7 284.6
72.9
Crude birth rate
9.5
Crude death rate
15.0
Rate of natural increase
- 5.5
Total fertility rate
1.50
Age structure of the population in
Bulgaria, 2011, Total=100,%
Total
Under working
age*
At working
age**
Over working
age***
Male
Female
14.1
14.9
13.4
62.9
67.0
57.5
17.2
14.7
19.6
* Under 15 years of age
** For male - from 16 to 62; for female - from 16 to 59
*** For male - 63 and over; for female - 60 and over.
Projection of the population number by age in
Bulgaria, young (0-14) and old people (65 and over),
2003-2050
2 000 000
1 800 000
1 600 000
1 400 000
1 200 000
1 000 000
800 000
600 000
400 000
Population (age<15)
Population (age>65)
200 000
48
20
45
20
42
20
39
20
36
20
33
20
30
20
27
20
24
20
21
20
18
20
15
20
12
20
09
20
06
20
20
03
0
Population structure in Bulgaria by
ethnical groups, 2011, Total=100%
Total In the towns In the villages
Bulgarians
84.8
90.3
70.0
Turkish
8.8
4.6
20.6
Roma
4.9
3.7
8.1
Other
0.7
0.7
0.8
Not
identified
0.8
0.7
1.0
Labour market issues


Large-scale emigration of mainly young and active
people led to declining number of the labour force in
Bulgaria.
Migration is likely to affect individual sectors of the
economy differently, which contributes to distortion
of the production structure and economic activity in
the country, and generates imbalances in some
sectors such as health care sector, as out-migration
of doctors and nurses is a key challenge for the
country.
In Greece

Bulgarians constitute the second largest
nationality after Albanian migrants. Female
emigrants predominate and migration is most
likely individual. Bulgarians occupy niches in
the labour market, mainly in agriculture and
tourist services. Seasonal workers coming
from the region of the Rhodopes Mountain in
Bulgaria cross the border to work in Western
Thrace in Greece.
In Spain



the emigrants are mostly men and migration is most likely
family-based. The first is the husband who arrives and
afterwards the relatives join him.
In Spain Bulgarians work in various service activities like:
hotels and restaurants (15.9%), household/family activities
(14.5%), and other public or personal service activities
(13.9%); agriculture (12.2%), construction (11.1%),
transport, storage and communication (9.4%).
The shares of men and women, working as low skilled
workers are similar (25.2% and 22.2% respectively). About
23% of the Bulgarian migrants were unemployed in 2011,
of which 64% are men and 36% are women. This level of
unemployment is considerably higher compared to that
before their departure from Bulgaria.
19
90
19
91
19
92
19
94
19
95
19
96
19
97
19
98
19
99
20
00
20
01
20
02
20
03
20
04
20
05
20
06
20
07
20
08
20
09
20
10
20
11
20
12
Level of unemployment in Bulgaria,
15 years and over, 1990-2012, %
20
18
16
14
12
10
8
6
4
2
0
Policy responses in Bulgaria

Until recently and even now the
policy of the Bulgaria’s officials and
the public opinion looks like rather
encouraging emigration, i.e. forcing
the push factor than attracting people
to live and work in their own country.
Policy responses in Bulgaria


The successful future of this policy is not in
the retention of human capital in Bulgaria, but
in promoting its development via or during
migration abroad and taking advantage of it in
the country.
In spite of the efforts undertaken by the
national authorities, there are still no specific
and sufficient services in place for people
who return.
Policy responses in Bulgaria

A common feature of the current Bulgarian
migration policy remains the substantial
number of strategies, action plans, programs,
etc. but they have pure declarative character
and the lack of goals set out in them with
indicators for the achievement of actual
results.
Thank you for your attention.
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