The Western Balkans and Croatia are losing long-term potential for economic growth due to youth emigration, and the fact that employable people are leaving the region is not good for the European Union (EU) either, the Vienna Institute of Demography of the Austrian Academy of Sciences says in study published on its website on Jan. 5.
Official statistics say that 181,034 citizens who were issued EU residence permits left Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia from 2014 to 2019. The corresponding statistics are hard to define for Croatia, because it’s a member of the Union and Croats do not need residence permits elsewhere in the EU.
The cost of emigration is very high, and it’s mostly young people aged between 25 and 34 who are leaving the region. Being the largest consumers, too, their departure affects GDP rates directly.
In addition, societies lose when they invest in the education of people who then leave, restricting economic potential for growth in the long run. According to a 2020 estimate by the United Nations, Croatia and the Western Balkans lost so many inhabitants that the region was among the most vulnerable in the world in terms of demographics.