Wednesday, March 20, 2013

More on how the Irish find jobs in Toronto

The Irish diaspora is continuing to expand, as tens of thousands of Irish leave the Republic in the wake of the ongoing economic troubles. (I'm unaware of any specific trends regarding Northern Ireland; leave links here if you'd like.)

Canada is taking on greater importance. An Irish Times blog post claims that three-quarters of Irish emigrants in 2011 went to the United Kingdom, Australia, and the remainder of the European Union, each destination accounting for roughly a quarter of the emigrants, with Canada and the United States each accounting for roughly a tenth. A more recent article suggests that Canada is starting to catch up to Australia, with news items like the February Irish Examiner article claiming that 6350 Canadian work visas were snapped up at a job fair over just four days and ention being made of the labour-hungry economy of Alberta.

Ontario, and the Toronto where I live, are also destinations. Back in November, I blogged about a Toronto Life article detailing how Gaelic football and real Irish pubs played critical roles in connecting Irish migrants to jobs. Two recent articles in the Toronto press highlight these interesting contingent mechanisms. The Torontoist post "An Irish Sport Gains Popularity in Toronto", by Sarah-Joyce Battersby, highlights Gaelic football.

[W]ith a new wave of Irish immigrants coming to find work in Canada, the sport has taken on a special role.

“The Toronto GAA has taken it on to make our best efforts to take care of people coming over,” spokesperson John Creery told us. “When you come over, the most important thing is to find work and a home. The Irish community in general is good, and they’re realy helpful, but the GAA community in particular is great for that.”

That’s how Creery got settled when he moved to Canada in 2001 from Lugan, a small town in County Armagh. Creery had been playing Gaelic football all his life. Soon after moving to Toronto, he met a team coach. “When he heard my accent he wanted me to come play for him,” said Creery.

Most of Creery’s friends are people he met through the Gaelic football community. And he said people involved in the sport look out for one another, helping new recruits find out about job prospects, apartments, and the Canadian way of life.

The support is helpful not only to the players, but also to their families in Ireland. “This way,” Creery said, “families back home know their loved one is being welcomed and taken care of, and has someone here to look in on them.”

St. Patrick's Day was Sunday. On that day, Toronto Star writer Antonia Zerbisias described how the parade provided a venue for meet-up groups, if not immediately a job.

Damien Lenihan could use some of that mythical luck of the Irish.

The 33 year old Dublin native, who came to Toronto last September, is looking for work — and a future in Canada.

“Every time I ring home, everyone says ‘Don’t come back, things are really bad, you’re not missing anything,’ ” he says. “Everyone seems really depressed.”

On Sunday, he shivered in a light leather jacket and hoodie as Toronto’s 26th St. Patrick’s Day passed on Queen St. W. Lenihan recognized Mayor Rob Ford, and seemed to approve of the floats and bands. But he spent most of the parade asking questions about jobs and life in Canada.

[. . .]

Still, as cold as it was on Sunday, Lenihan was basking in the warmth of a new group of friends, thanks to a meet-up organized online by the Irish Association of Toronto.

“It’s like they’re strangers in a strange land, and they’re coming in the hundreds and thousands because the economy is so awful there,” explains Leah Morrigan, a proud holder of dual citizenship and the association’s vice-president. “This is good fun because a lot of the Irish don’t have anybody to latch on to. We like to be a bit of a welcoming committee for them.”

I'm fascinated by these contingencies that help determine the direction and eventual success (or failure) of individuals' efforts at making a success of migration. These individual stories determine are hardly unique to Irish migrants to Toronto; they undergird every migration story.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

On multicultural Cyprus

The latest stage of the ongoing Cypriot financial crisis, a haircut imposed on depositors in Cypriot banks, has been covered very extensively throughout the blogosphere and the wider news media. We can only be thankful, I suppose, that there hasn't been a general run on banks across southern Europe. (Pessimists would remind me, correctly, that there is still time.)

One thing that has come up in the coverage is the extensive international involvement in the Cypriot crisis: Cypriot banks loaned to Greece and exposed themselves heavily, British expatriates and Russian investors have complained about their losses, and so forth. It's a minor irony that Cyprus, a small island with a total population of a million people, has become so globalized. Its strategic location can be thanked for that--in 1878, as the Ottoman Empire trembled in the aftermath of the catastrophic war over Bulgaria I blogged about earlier this month, Britain took Cyprus on as a protectorate, counting on using its strategic location to help protect the Suez Canal. Evolving after the start of the First World War into a fully-fledged crown colony, old Ottoman traditions of quiet co-existence between two ethnic groups began to evolve into the seeds of ethnonational conflict.

The Ottomans tended to administer their multicultural empire with the help of their subject millets, or religious communities. The tolerance of the millet system permitted the Greek Cypriot community to survive, administered for Constantinople by the Archbishop of the Church of Cyprus, who became the community's head, or ethnarch.

[. . .]

In the light of intercommunal conflict since the mid-1950s, it is surprising that Cypriot Muslims and Christians generally lived harmoniously. Some Christian villages converted to Islam. In many places, Turks settled next to Greeks. The island evolved into a demographic mosaic of Greek and Turkish villages, as well as many mixed communities. The extent of this symbiosis could be seen in the two groups' participation in commercial and religious fairs, pilgrimages to each other's shrines, and the occurrence, albeit rare, of intermarriage despite Islamic and Greek laws to the contrary. There was also the extreme case of the linobambakoi (linen-cottons), villagers who practiced the rites of both religions and had a Christian as well as a Muslim name. In the minds of some, such religious syncretism indicates that religion was not a source of conflict in traditional Cypriot society.

The rise of Greek nationalism in the 1820s and 1830s affected Greek Cypriots, but for the rest of the century these sentiments were limited to the educated. The concept of enosis--unification with the Greek motherland, by then an independent country after freeing itself from Ottoman rule--became important to literate Greek Cypriots. A movement for the realization of enosis gradually formed, in which the Church of Cyprus had a dominant role.

What's more, after the conclusion of the Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922 led to a near-complete separation of Greeks and Turks into their respective nation-states, Cyprus was the only remaining substantial territory where Greeks and Turks lived mixed. It may have been inevitable that after independence, conflict between the Greeks and the Turks would eventually escalate into full-fledged war, resulting in a 1974 Turkish military intervention that led to the creation of a Turkish North Cyprus separate from the internationally-recognized--and overwhelmingly Greek--Republic of Cyprus.

As noted in the Library of Congress study on the country, published in 1991, Cyprus--like many other island societies--saw substantial emigration in the post-Second World War period, directed towards the colonial metropole of the United Kingdom.

The periods of greatest emigration were 1955-59, the 1960s, and 1974-79, times of political instability and socioeconomic insecurity when future prospects appeared bleak and unpromising. Between 1955 and 1959, the period of anticolonial struggle, 29,000 Cypriots, 5 percent of the population, left the island. In the 1960s, there were periods of economic recession and intercommunal strife, and net emigration has been estimated at about 50,000, or 8.5 percent of the island's 1970 population. Most of these emigrants were young males from rural areas and usually unemployed. Some five percent were factory workers and only 5 percent were university graduates. Britain headed the list of destinations, taking more than 75 percent of the emigrants in 1953-73; another 8 to 10 percent went to Australia, and about 5 percent to North America.

During the early 1970s, economic development, social progress, and relative political stability contributed to a slackening of emigration. At the same time, there was immigration, so that the net immigration was 3,200 in 1970-73. This trend ended with the 1974 invasion. During the 1974-79 period, 51,500 persons left as emigrants, and another 15,000 became temporary workers abroad. The new wave of emigrants had Australia as the most common destination (35 percent), followed by North America, Greece, and Britain. Many professionals and technical workers emigrated, and for the first time more women than men left. By the early 1980s, the government had rebuilt the economy, and the 30 percent unemployment rate of 1974 was replaced by a labor shortage. As a result, only about 2,000 Cypriots emigrated during the years 1980-86, while 2,850 returned to the island.

Although emigration slowed to a trickle during the 1980s, so many Cypriots had left the island in preceding decades that in the late 1980s an estimated 300,000 Cypriots (a number equivalent to 60 percent of the population of the Republic of Cyprus) resided in seven foreign countries.

Now, however, Cyprus has become a major destination for immigration. The politically most critical immigration has been in North Cyprus, where migration from Turkey--permanent and otherwise--has occurred on a politically controversial scale. Some estimates suggest that half of the population of North Cyprus, numbering something on the order of a quarter-million people, is of first- or second-generation Turkish immigrant background. This alleged high proportion was one reason why Greek Cypriots rejected the 2004 Annan plan for reunification of the island: a North that was substantially or maybe even mostly populated by immigrants wasn't a legitimate negotiating partner. Turning to the Norwegian International Peace Research Institute (PIRO), however, Mete Hatay's 2007 report "Is the Turkish Cypriot Population Shrinking?" makes a compelling case that this proportion is a large overestimate, product of authentic measurement errors and judgements of bad faith all around. I don't feel qualified to make any judgement on these figures apart from observing that a neutral third-party could be very useful.

Less politically controversial has been the substantial immigration into the Republic of Cyprus, amounting to a quarter of the total population of the European Union member-state. Attracted by the island-state's pleasant climate and (until recently) dynamic economy, tens of thousands of people have immigrated to Cyprus, from distant Britain (stereotypically retirees and other expatriates), from Balkan countries like Bulgaria, Romania and Greece, and from Russia. I've been following Russian interest in Cyprus for a bit at my blog. Suffice it to say that Cyprus' status as an offshore financial centre for Russians, its pleasant environment, and sentimental bonds of Orthodox Christianity shared with Russia helped make Cyprus a destination on par with Montenegro in the Balkans and Latvia. (Apparently the European Union is now in the process of making sure that the financial system of Latvia, slated to accede to the Euro next year, is free from Cypriot excesses.) Early in February, a Guardian report claimed that the Chinese were starting to come to Cyprus.

It will soon be carnival time in the city of Pafos on the south-west coast of Cyprus – and this year theme is China.

"Everything will be Chinese," says Pafos mayor, Savvas Vergas, in his office in the pretty, whitewashed city hall, fronted by classical Greek pillars. "Meals … folklore … Everything will be on Chinese culture."

The carnival will be a way of celebrating a most unusual boom in a country which, like others in southern Europe, has been stricken by the eurozone crisis. Property prices in Cyprus have fallen by around 15% since 2007. Yet an official survey published last month found that between last August and October more than 600 properties were sold to Chinese buyers, 90% of which were in Pafos.

"The real growth came after August because that was when the government made clear the terms and conditions for third country nationals to get permanent residence," says Giorgios Leptos, a director of the Leptos property group and president of the Pafos chamber of commerce and industry.

The opportunity to secure permanent residence in an EU member state is a huge attraction for Chinese because it offers them visa-free travel throughout the union. Almost 4,500 miles away, Lisha Tang, a young client at a Beijing property firm, is relishing the prospect.

"A house in Cyprus means travelling freely in Europe, which is great for young people," she says.

[. . .]

To obtain permanent residence in Cyprus, investors from outside the EU have to spend at least €300,000 (£260,000) on a property. They must also prove that they have no criminal record and are in good financial standing and agree to deposit €30,000 for a minimum of three years in a local bank account. Their permit normally arrives in about 45 days.

Cyprus is not the only EU state to be exploring this way of reinvigorating a stagnant property market. Last year, Ireland and Portugal also offered residency to foreigners who bought property worth more than a certain amount. In November Spain's trade minister, Jaime Garcia-Legaz, said his country was intending to follow suit in an attempt to clear his country's vast backlog of unsold homes.

Some of Cyprus' super-rich immigrants will fall prey to the bank levy.

A band of super-rich foreign tycoons who took Cypriot citizenship in recent decades – lured by a favourable tax regime – are expected to be among the hardest hit by the island's surprise deposit tax as several are believed to have been required to deposit at least €17m of their fortunes on the island to qualify for citizenship.

Billionaires attracted to the island by the controversial citizenship scheme, designed to court super-rich figures, include Norwegian-born oil tanker tycoon John Fredriksen, Israeli internet gambling entrepreneur Teddy Sagi, and Alexander Abramov, the Russian steel magnate who chairs FTSE 100 group Evraz.

Cyprus's then interior minister, Neoclis Sylikiotis, explained the rules to local newspaper Cyprus Weekly in 2010: "Cypriot nationality is given in special cases, following approval from the council of ministers … on the basis of specific criteria, including the applicant being over 30, having no criminal record, owning a permanent home in Cyprus and travelling to the island."

Further criteria include depositing at least €17m with a local bank over five years, direct investments of €30m, or registering a large business on the island.

Between 2007 and 2010 some 30 foreign nationals, mostly Russians, were reportedly granted Cypriot citizenship. Most prominent among them was Abramov. "Mr Abramov is considered to be offering high level services to the Republic of Cyprus, taking into account his business activities," explained Sylikiotis. "Therefore, reasons of public interest justify his naturalisation as a special case."

Whether or not any of this immigration will survive in the aftermath of the bank levy is open to question. In the case of Russia, initial outrage seems ready to lead to disengagement for stabler economic climes. A resurgence of Cypriot emigration, perhaps from both halves of the island, can't necessarily be excluded. I wonder what contingency plans the United Kingdom might have.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A brief note on Bricker and Ibbitson's The Big Shift

Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen cited yesterday The Big Shift: The Seismic Change In Canadian Politics, Business, And Culture And What It Means For Our Future, by Canadians Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson. Their thesis?

The political, media and business elites of Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal ran this country for almost its entire history. But in the last few years, they have lost their power, and most of them still do not realize it’s gone. The Laurentian Consensus, a name John Ibbitson coined for the dusty liberal elite, has been replaced by a new, powerful coalition based in the West and supported by immigrant voters in Ontario. So what happened?

Great global migrations have washed over Canada. Most people are unaware that the keystone economic and political drivers of this country are now Western Canada and the immigrants from China, India, and other Asian countries who increasingly are turning Ontario into a Pacific-oriented province. Those in politics and business have greatly underestimated how conservative these newcomers are, and how conservative they are making our country. Canada, with an ever-evolving and growing economy and a constantly changing demographic base, has become divorced from the traditions of its past and is moving in an entirely new direction.

In The Big Shift, John Ibbitson and Darrell Bricker argue that one of the world’s most consensual countries is polarizing, with the west versus the east, suburban versus urban, immigrants versus old school, coffee drinkers versus consumers of energy drinks. The winners—in politics, in business, in life—will figure out where the people are and go there too.

(The quote that caught Cowen's attention was a projection: "In Toronto, 63 percent of the population will be foreign born by 2031…In Vancouver, the foreign-born population will be 59 percent." That figure doesn't sound off.)

I haven't read the book, so I can't comment authoritatively. What I can say is that the thesis isn't obviously wrong. The Conservatives have had significant success in breaking the traditionally close relationship of the (in my opinion) slowly dying Liberal Party's support among recent immigrants, while the traditionally more centrist and left-wing central Canadian region has been relative decline as Alberta--as we've noted here for the past seven years--leads western Canada in experiencing very strong economic and population growth. My two May 2011 posts reacting to the 2011 election (1, 2) could be read as suggesting some sort of ideological polarization of the country between a Conservative-leaning west and a NDP-leaning centre. At the very least the book seems worth a look.

Friday, March 08, 2013

The Great Portuguese Hollowing Out

With every passing day Portugal has less and less economy left, while fewer and fewer people remain to try to pay down the debt.

As Portuguese President Aníbal Cavaco Silva once put it, "A country without children is a nation without a future." He was, of course, referring to his country’s ultra-low birth rate, which is just over 1.3 (Tfr) and has been below replacement level (2.1Tfr) since the early 1980s. In 2012 only just over 90,000 children were born in the country, the lowest number in more than a century – you need to go back to the nineteenth century to find numbers like the ones we have been seeing since the crisis really took hold.

But added to this longstanding, yet unaddressed, problem there is now another, just as dangerous, one. High unemployment levels and the lack of job opportunities are leading an ever increasing number of young Portuguese to emigrate. The numbers are large, possibly a million over the last decade, victims of the country’s ridiculously low growth rate – under 1% a year. And the departures are accelerating. Jose Cesario, secretary of state for emigrant communities, estimated recently that up to 240,000 people may have left since the start of 2011.

Naturally this is one of the reasons why Portuguese unemployment numbers haven’t hit the Spanish or Greek heights. According to data from the Portuguese Institute of Employment and Professional Training, during the first nine months of last year 24,689 people cancelled their unemployment registration due to a decision to emigrate. This compares with 16,977 in the first nine months of 2011. In September alone, 2,766 people signed off for the same reason, a 49% increase on September of 2011. Yet between January and September Portugal’s EU harmonized unemployment rate rose from 14.7% to 16.3%, suggesting that without so many people packing their bags and leaving the figure would have been significantly higher, and offering some explanation as to why government officials don’t do more to try and stop the flow.

Nobel economist Paul Krugman recently suggested that among the ailments Japan was suffering from was a shortage of Japanese. Or put another way Japan’s slow growth is partly a by-product of the country's ageing and shrinking workforce. Looking at the country’s population dynamics Portugal certainly looks a likely candidate to catch this most modern of modern diseases. Not only does Portugal have the key ingredient behind the Japanese workforce shrinkage – long term ultra-low fertility – it has some added issues to boot. Japan may be immigration averse, but its inhabitants aren’t fleeing in droves.

Of course, a shortage is always relative to something. Many hold that the planet is overpopulated, and that energy constraints mean fewer people would be better. So shouldn’t we be celebrating all these children who aren’t getting born? Well, no, at least not if you want sustainable pension and health system, and that is what the developed world sovereign debt crisis is all about, how to meet implicit liabilities for an ever older population. One thing Portugal won’t have a shortage of is old people, since the over 65 age group is projected to grow and grow, even as the working population shrinks and shrinks. No wonder the young are leaving, even if the youth unemployment rate wasn’t 38.3%, just think of all the taxes and social security contributions the remaining young people are going to have to pay just to keep the welfare ship afloat. Patriotism at the end of the day has its limits.

Unfortunately population flight and steadily rising unemployment aren’t the only problems the country is facing. The economy is also tanking, and getting smaller by the day.

Far from the recession getting milder as last year progressed it actually accelerated, and there was a 3.8% output drop in the three months to December in comparison with a year earlier. Naturally, it isn’t all bad news. Exports are doing extremely well. They were up by 5.8% during the course of 2012, and the really good news was an increase of almost 20% in shipments outside Europe - exports to countries outside the EU jumped 19.8% to13.1 billion euros. These now constitute nearly 30% of total exports, up from just over 25% in 2011. In contrast exports to other EU countries – where domestic demand is contracting rather than expanding - were up a mere 1%. In contrast retail sales were down nearly 10% on the year, construction output 15%, and industrial output 5%.

This is a familiar picture across Europe's southern periphery, where positive export performance does not compensate for shrinking domestic demand due to the smallish size of the export sector, generating a negative environment which ongoing reductions in government spending do nothing to assuage.

And next year it looks set to get worse. The Bank of Portugal is now forecasting a GDP drop of 1.9% in 2013, compared with earlier expectations for a much softer fall. As recently as last October the IMF was expecting only a 1% drop. In any event it will be the third consecutive year of decline, making for five out of the last six years where the Portuguese economy has gone backwards following the best part of a decade where it scarcely moved forwards.

But if there is a shortage of both growth and young people, there is no shortage of debt. Gross government debt as a percentage of GDP hit the 120% of GDP level last year. And it isn’t only public sector debt, the Portuguese private sector owed some 250% of GDP at the end of last year, according to Eurostat records, one of the highest levels in the EU.

Worse still the country’s net international investment position had a negative balance of nearly 110% of GDP, the worst in the EU.

This last detail is important, since according to conventional economic theory it is by drawing down on overseas assets (which have been acquired by pensions and other saving) that elderly societies can help meet their pension and health liabilities (the Japan case). But in Portugal far from reaping returns on this account, paying down these debts, or interest on them, will be a drain on public resources for many years to come.

So with less people working and paying into the welfare system, less GDP, and huge debts the numbers simply don’t add up. This year we will see GDP levels last seen in 2000. Yet in their latest Article IV consultation report the IMF Executive Directors actually “welcomed the [Portuguese] authorities’ impressive policy effort to gradually reverse the accumulated imbalances and prevent future crises”. How they can say this and keep a straight face when talking about a country which is actually travelling backwards in time is hard to understand. It looks increasingly like the Fund is suffering from “integrity flight” and relegating itself to the role of a public relations body for a group of fumbling European politicians.

The depth of ignorance which exists on the challenges the country faces was revealed last year when Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho actually said that the best solution to youth unemployment problem was for young people to emigrate. We are increasingly handling the new and complex problems presented by the 21st century with the aid of simplistic formulas derived from 20thcentury textbook economics. It’s time for someone somewhere to wake up to the fact that the old models don’t work, because there are growing number of key factors they simply don’t capture. The poor performance of economists using these models is increasingly getting the profession a bad name among the public at large. Mr Draghi’s outright monetary transactions programme may well be doing a marvelous job of addressing the issue of financial capital flight but it offers few solutions to the human capital one. In the absence of policies which acknowledge these issues exist and then address them none of the sustainability analyses – debt, financial sector, whatever – are worth the paper they have been written on.


I have established a dedicated Facebook page to campaign for the EU to take this issue more seriously, in particular by insisting member states measure the problem more adequately and having Eurostat incorporate population migrations as an indicator in the Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure Scoreboard in just the same way current account balances are. If you agree with me that this is a significant problem that needs to be given more importance then please take the time to click "like" on the page. I realize it is a tiny initiative in the face of what could become a huge problem, but sometime great things from little seeds to grow.

This is a revised version of an article which originally appeared on the Iberosphere website.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Notes on Venezuela

The death yesterday of Hugo Chavez after a long battle with cancer leaves the Venezuela at a turning point. What will come of Venezuela?

Let's start by looking at the current state of the Venezuelan population.

The president of the National Statistics Institute (INE), Elias Eljuri, informed this Friday that the preliminary results of the 14th National Census of Population and Housing, carried out in the country by the end of last year, show that country's median is not anymore 18 years of age, but 26, which means that Venezuela is currently experiencing a "demographic transition era."

[. . .]

Results also showed a contraction of population's growth, which is 1.6%, according to preliminary data.

"We are living an interesting era of demographic transition ... Venezuela is now placed in the so-called third demographic group in which growth and mortality (currently, 5.1 deaths per 1,000 inhabitants)rates fell," he detailed.

Eljuri explained that such demographical ranking consists of four groups: the first group gathers countries with high birth and mortality rates (Haiti, for example); the second group is of countries with high birth rates and medium mortality rates (Nicaragua, Paraguay); third one consists of countries with low birth rates and low mortality rates (to which belongs Venezuela now, it was previously in the second); and the fourth and last group is that with a stagnation of population, very low birth rates, like those of developed countries.

In addition, he said that other characteristics of said trend are the increase of life expectancy (to an average of 74.3 years) and decrease of birth rates.

"As for fertility, the average of children per women has fallen to 2.3. Those elements are determined by each culture, (in Venezuela's case) women have started to work; therefore, the number of children has fallen," he said.

Other preliminary data announced by the INE is that current Venezuelan population is 27,150,095 inhabitants. Nonetheless, there is still about 5% of the data that has not been processed yet; that is to say, that Venezuelan population is about 28.8 million people.

Of the total processed so far 50.3% are women and the remaining 49.7% men; the role of women as chiefs of family rose from 24% to 39%; Venezuela's rates of marriages has fallen to 25% and couples living together without legalizing their union increased to 27.9%; there is a 36.4% of population that remains single.

Venezuela is a country that has seen rapid growth and transformation in the period since the Second World War. Going to the Penn World Table reveals that the country's populatiion grew from almost exactly five million people in 1950 to 27.2 million in 2010, significantly increasing its relative heft in terms of absolute numbers. (For comparison, Uruguay's population grew from 2.2 million to 3.3 million, a "mere" 50%, over the same time span.) This growth was the product of a high rate of natural increase supplemented by substantial immigration (more later). The Venezuelan economy has a history of substantially more mixed growth. The country's economic apogee came in 1957, when the country's oil boom allowed GDP per capita to reach 48% of the American level, making the country not only the richest country in Latin America but placing it on par with Italy and considerably in advance of Spain. Thereafter slow decline ensued, the oil boom in the 1970s briefly reversing the trend, with GDP per capita reaching a low point of 16% of the US level in 1999 before reversing and growing to a bit more than 25% by 2010. This particular economic history explains a few things about Venezuela's demographic history, especially its delayed demographic transition compared to other similarly prosperous Latin American countries in the immediate post-war era (Argentina, Uruguay, Cuba) and its recent history of substantial immigration.

As described in the INED-hosted review "The Demography of Latin America and the Caribbean since 1950" by Guzman et al, and also in Héctor Pérez-Brignoli's shorter overview, Latin American countries can be divided in three categories according to their relationship to the framework of the demographic transition. At one extreme are Argentina, Uruguay, and Cuba, three countries that had already experienced substantial declines in fertility before the Second World War after ongoing mortality declines, and which were beginning to trend towards low population growt and rapid aging. At the other are the least developed countries in the region (i.e. Bolivia in the Andes, Haiti in the Caribbean, Guatemala in Central America), countries where mortality has fallen sharply but fertility remains high. The remainder of Latin America--countries like Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, and yes, Venezuela--saw fertility only begin to fall in the 1960s.

Why was Venezuela an anomaly among the other high-income countries of Latin America in its late demographic transition? Venezuela's high-income status only came after the Second World War, transforming the country as completely as (for instance) Saudi Arabia later. Human development lagged behind economic growth. In a thesis available online ("Essays on Fertility and the Economy in Venezuela"), Octavio Maza Duerto details the demographic history of post-Second World War Venezuela, noting in Chapter 1 that the death rate fell by more than two-thirds in the 1948-1966 period, from 12.8 deaths per thousand to 4.2, while infant mortality also began falling. TFRs increased from 5.5 children per woman in 1950 to a peak of 6.5 in 1967 before falling to the current fertility level slightly above replacement levels.

Venezuela's economic growth in the decades immediately after the oil boom also explains why this country became a significant destination for immigration, not only from neighbouring Colombia and points elsewhere in Latin America but from southern Europe as well. As noted above, at its peak Venezuela was as rich as Italy and richer than Spain. For skilled migrants, moving to Venezuela could make sense. In a 2009 post, Noel Maurer outlined this migration, and the assimilation of these migrants and their descendants into their community.

In the 1950s, Europeans migrated because of the oil boom. Roughly 450,000 people acquired legal permanent residence during this wave. The new democratic government in 1958 restricted migration (not unsurprisingly) and net migration turned negative during the period. Then in 1973, with the second oil boom, immigration again spiked upwards. By 1976, Venezuela had 270,000 resident Spaniards, 223,000 Italians, and 107,000 Portuguese. Now, these numbers have to be interpreted carefully: they also include, for example, 79,672 Americans, most of whom did not settle down permanently. Nor are the figures comparable with the permanent residency figures also presented above. But they are what we have.

In 1976, at its peak, the various European nationalities (counting only those born overseas, not their Venezuelan-born children) made up about 3 percent of Venezuela’s then-population of 13.1 million. It was a large migration, but it wasn’t transformative. On the other hand, it did transform the nature of the country’s elites. The European migrants were remarkably successful, going on to found myriads of small businesses. In fact, it has been the descendents of those migrants, mostly Italian, who suffered the most from the government’s recent nationalization of the oil service companies. (More on that in another post, when I’m feeling better.)

One interesting question about immigration is: how quickly (if at all) do the children of immigrants lose the cultural predilections of their parents? Jewish-Americans, for example, continue to vote Democratic at far higher numbers than their income or occupational status would predict. Does this apply to Venezuelans?

Francisco Rodríguez of Wesleyan and Rodrigo Wagner, a grad student here at Harvard, have used the Maisanta list to ask just that question. Maisanta, you’ll recall, was a list published by the Venezuelan government containing the names of everyone who had signed a 2004 recall petition against Hugo Chávez. The list contained ID numbers, which can be cross-referenced against income data in the Venezuelan Social Security Institute database. They then used people’s surnames to trace them back to various Italian regions. They had to eliminate non-regionally-specific surnbames like Rossi, Russo, Ferrari, Esposito, Bianchi, Romano, and Colombo. So, given all the potential objections to the methodology, what did they find?

Nothing. There is no relationship between the political predilections of their parents’ region-of-origin in Italy and the predilections of Italian-Venezuelan voters today. Inasmuch as Italian-Venezuelans have overwhelmingly achieved middle and upper-class status in Venezuela, they have also assimilated to the political predilections of those groups.

Immigration fell sharply from the 1980s on, as the Venezuelan economy continued to deteriorate. Especially since the 1998 election of Hugo Chavez, the popular press has been filled with references to new emigration: see this 2002 New York Times article referring to southern European immigrants and their descendants returning; this 2007 Mercopress article citing a figure of 1.5 million Venezuelan emigrantsl this 2008 New York Times article talking about the formation of Venezuelan immigrant communities in Florida on the Cuban model; this 2012 article citing the figure of one million emigrants; and, two current articles, one from ABC-Univision and the other from the Miami Herald, reporting on the reactions of many of these emigrants to Chavez's death.

At the same time, though, Venezuela continues to host large immigrant populations. The World Bank's Migration and Remittances Factbook 2011 states that, in 2010, the stock of Venezuelan emigrants amounts to just over a half-million people while the stock of immigrants amounts to just over one million. In addition to the traditional immigrant populations from Colombia and southern Europe are smaller populations from elsewhere in the Caribbean basin and South America, with Syria ranking as a noteworthy source of immigrants. (Much of the current Cuban immigrant population is present in the country as a result of the close Cuban-Venezuelan alliance, which might be briefly summarized as an exchange of subsidized Venezuelan oil to Cuba in exchange for the supply of forty thousand Cuban professionals, mostly doctors, to Venezuela. This program, packaged as part of the Venezuelan government's "Bolivarian Missions" directed towards poor Venezuelans, has been fairly criticized on multiple grounds.) Venezuela, as Simon Romero described in a 2010 New York Times article, is a country that people leave and enter freely.

On this booming continent, oil-rich Venezuela is the exception: South America’s only shrinking economy this year. Officials are rationing hard currency. Government takeovers of private businesses are increasing. One prominent financial analyst recently had just two words of advice for investors here: “Run away.”

Many middle-class and wealthy Venezuelans have done exactly that, creating a slow-burning exodus of scientists, doctors, entrepreneurs and engineers. But wander into the bazaar in the shadow of Santa Teresa Basilica in this city’s old center, and the opposite seems to be happening as well.

Merchants murmur in Arabic, Urdu and Hindi. Haitians pushing ice cream carts chatter in Creole. Street vendors selling DVDs call out in Colombian-accented Spanish. Sip coffee in Naji Hammoud’s clothing shop, where photos of Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley grace the walls, and the outlook is downright bullish.

“There’s money in the street, whether the price of oil is $8 a barrel or $80,” said Mr. Hammoud, 36, who came here from Lebanon a decade ago and has no plans to leave. “I could have moved to Europe, Germany, someplace, and done fine, but I would have been someone’s employee. Here, I’m my own boss.”

Venezuela is in the throes of an immigration puzzle. While large numbers of the middle class head for the exits, hundreds of thousands of foreign merchants and laborers have put down stakes here in recent years, complicating the portrait of how a brain drain unfolds.

[. . .]

At the other end of the economic spectrum, many new immigrants continue to arrive on tourist visas and overstay their visits, drawn by incomes that are still higher than those in some of Venezuela’s neighbors and by a broad array of social welfare programs for the poor championed by Mr. Chávez’s government.

“One can live with a little bit of dignity here, at least enough to send money home now and again,” said Etienne Dieu-Seul, 35, a Haitian street vendor, who moved here a month before the earthquake that devastated Haiti in January. After the disaster, officials here said they would grant residence visas to the 15,000 Haitians believed to have been here illegally.

As many as four million immigrants have come here from Colombia, according to Juan Carlos Tanus, director of the Association of Colombians in Venezuela. And some continue to arrive, despite the protracted recession here and the recent strides Colombia has made in growing its economy and fighting the rebel groups that have plagued it for so long.

“There’s work in Venezuela for those who want it,” said Arturo Vargas, 39, a Colombian laborer who moved to Caracas last year, finding jobs as a watchman and at a chicken-processing plant. “This place isn’t perfect, but it’s better than what I left behind.”

Indeed, one Reuters article claimed that between 2007 and 2011, the number of Spaniards emigrating to Venezuela rose by 114 percent, scarcely less that the increase of Spaniards migrating to Chile or Mexico!

In a links roundup post I made at my blog yesterday, I linked to four different articles making claims about Venezuela. One of the more interesting was Bhaskar Sunkara's article in the left-leaning In These Times, "Postmodern Perón", which placed Chavez squarely in the revived tradition of Latin American populism exemplified by Peronism in Argentina.

[T]he processes unfolding in Venezuela are complicated: The Bolivarian Revolution is both authoritarian and democratic, demagogic and participatory.

[. . .]

Following what Chávez says means taking a meander across the political spectrum. He summons Keynes with reverence, but he’s not a Keynesian. His style evokes Perón, but he’s not another Caudillo. He makes outbursts against materialism and globalization, but the ex-military officer would stick out on the G20 protest circuit. Chávez’s background is marked by a disconnect from the organized working class and the historic institutions of the Venezuelan Left. It’s fitting then that bits and pieces of everyone from Bolivar to Keynes to Che flow from his largely improvised communiqués.

Chavez's Venezuela has more than its faults, as Human Rights Watch noted yesterday. It, however, has never been as closed off from the world as Cuba under the Castros, even now. Cuba, as we've noted here at Demography Matters, has become a country that people are from, a country that's overwhelmingly a source of migrants and set to experience rapid aging in the context of general impoverishment. Venezuela hasn't reached that point, and may not be especially likely to; it's still a place that people go to as well as depart.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Three notes on historical patterns of migration from Bulgaria

Edward Hugh's essay earlier this week at A Fistful of Euros, "The Shortage of Bulgarians Inside Bulgaria", got a non-trivial amount of attention, including linkage by Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen. (See also Economonitor which mirrors the post though not the comments, and, of course, here at Demography Matters.) Within the European Union, Bulgaria really does constitute an exceptional case: among the poorest European Union member-states, with one of the lowest fertility rates of any European Union member-state, and with some of the highest rates of emigration, Bulgaria is quite likely because of its rapidly shrinking population to experience the serious economic and other problems other countries are likely to experience in the near future. The country's population has fallen by a sixth from its peak in 1985, in fact.

Bulgaria has lost 582,000 people over the last ten years, a nationwide census has revealed. The EU newcomer, who has now 7,351,633 inhabitants, has lost 1.5 million of its population since 1985, a record in depopulation not just for the EU, but by global standards too.

Bulgaria, which had a population of almost nine million in 1985, now has almost the same number of inhabitants as in 1945 after World war II, the Bulgarian media writes.

The census also found that the Bulgarian population is ageing fast, that the number of young people is declining and that villages are becoming depopulated as big cities grow.

People of more than 65 years of age in 2001 constituted 16.8% of the population, while this year their rate has grown to 18.9%. At the same time, the number of children has declined, which is a clear sign that ever fewer employed people will have to provide for a growing number of elderly people[.]

Bulgaria of some interest to me in that it's a new country, in many respects newer than my Canada. Yes, Bulgarians have lived in Bulgaria for centuries without any experience of historical discontinuity as severe as that experienced by Canada, which has been almost completely repopulated by Old World migrants. Still, the Bulgarian state is a young entity: the Principality of Bulgaria was established by the Great Powers in 1878; Bulgaria was unified with adjacent and autonomous Eastern Rumelia in 1885; Bulgaria declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1908; Bulgaria's current borders were only definitively settled in 1946 as the Cold War began. As much as Bulgaria is a modern European nation-state now, its history--including its migration history--bears the marks of its recent past.

1. Let's start with the migration patterns of Bulgaria's Turks and Muslims.

Bulgaria Census Chart (1880-1910)

Taken from here, this chart shows basic census results by ethnicity between 1880 and 1910 in Bulgaria. Noteworthy is the near-doubling of the Bulgarian population over this timeframe while the Turkish population falls by a third. The Turkish population of Bulgaria may have fallen further, in fact: one estimate in the Wikipedia article on Turks in Bulgaria claims that in the Danube Vilayet, which occupied most of northern Bulgaria along with parts of what are now coastal Romania, Christians of all ethnicities formed barely half of a population of almost 2.4 million people. The high proportion of Muslims in mid-19th century Bulgaria makes sense if you think of Bulgaria not as a peripheral European nation, but as a collection of provinces which formed part of the core of the Ottoman Empire, in the hinterland of the capital, even.

Muslims in Bulgaria, like Muslims elsewhere in the independent states emerging from the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans, and in the lands conquered by the Russian Empire in the Caucasus, were generally unwelcome presences in these newly Christian lands. As detailed by--for instance--Berna Pekesen in the essay "Expulsion and Emigration of the Muslims from the Balkans", Muslims of all backgrounds--people of indigenous Balkan background like Slavs and Albanians, members of Turkic groups, and peoples of the Caucasus like the Circassians--were subjected to what would be called ethnic cleansing. Millions of muhajir ended up settling in the Turkish core of the Ottoman Empire, starting off that country's modern tradition of immigration. (Various estimates claim that a high proportion of Turks, some up to one-third, are descended from these refugees.) In Bulgaria's case, Pomaks--people of Bulgarian language but Muslim religion--were separated from the Turkish population by various governments, which hoped to assimilate the Pomaks into a Bulgarian ethnic identity.

Bulgaria kept a larger Turkish and Muslim population that many other Balkan countries, but towards the end of the Communist period a variety of violent policies mandating the assimilation of all Muslims, including forced renamings and closing down specifically Muslim facilities, culminating in the May 1989 expulsion of most Bulgarian Turks from their country of birth into adjacent Turkey. The terrible international reaction and the economic consequences of the mass expulsion helped bring down the Communist government and fairly quick restitution made to the Turks (and Pomaks) as part of the democratization process. Today, Turks and Muslims in Bulgaria seem--some concerns aside--to be well-integrated in their homeland as respected players, with their political party, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, being a major political player. Even so, perhaps a third of the million people claiming an identity as Bulgarian Turks currently live in Turkey, a country where they have put down roots. The Bulgarian emigrant community in Turkey, in fact, is the largest community of Bulgarian emigrants, the half-million Bulgarians in Turkey outnumbering registered Bulgarian emigrants in the rest of the European Union combined.

2. Bulgaria's borders are not what many had hoped.

Bulgaria according to the Treaty of San Stefano (1878)

Initially in 1878 Bulgaria under Russian sponsorship would have been a large country indeed, including within its borders not only modern Bulgaria but almost all of the historical region of Macedonia. The negative reaction of other powers to such a large Bulgaria, seen as a Russian pawn threatening Constantinople and the Straits, led to the creation of a smaller Bulgaria. Despite fighting numerous wars at great cost with the aim of gaining these territories, Bulgaria never did manage to gain more than a small piece of Macedonia. After multiple ethnic cleansings all around which saw the deportal of most of the region's Muslims to Turkey and the eventual expulsion and forced assimilation of most Slavs in an Aegean Macedonia that received many of the Greeks expelled from Turkey in 1922, and the creation in Tito's Yugoslavia of a Macedonian national identity separate from the Bulgarian, Bulgaria was left with only a portion of eastern Macedonia. As for Bulgarian communities scattered further afield, whether in neighbouring Balkan countries or in old immigrant communities on the northern shore of the Black Sea (Moldova, Ukraine, Russia), they were left out of the Bulgarian national project.

After 1989 and the collapse of Yugoslavia, Bulgarian citizenship laws were slowly transformed so as to give people claiming an identity as ethnic Bulgarians, including those living in countries immediately adjoining Bulgaria as well as those living in the Black Sea diaspora. This was merely the most prominent part of a policy of outreach to these diasporids that includes gifts of school books in Serbia or vice-presidential visits in Ukraine. As noted by Marko Žilović in an essay at the website Citizenship in Southeastern Europe, citizenship in Bulgaria--a country on track to join the European Union, no less--could be a potent economic advantage.

On a usual working day in the village of Ivanovo in Serbia there are three cars with Bulgarian license plates parked in front of the small elementary school. This is not because a delegation from Bulgaria is visiting this village of little more than 1000 inhabitants. Importing used cars licensed in Bulgaria was a well-known scheme to circumvent restrictive Serbian regulations that protect the Zastava company, the only domestic car producer. The scheme worked best if the buyer had a Bulgarian passport. It is thus no coincidence that several cars with Bulgarian license plates found their way into the Ivanovo, for it is one of the few places where fleeing Roman Catholic Slavs from northern Bulgaria settled in the 18th century. Today, about a fifth of Ivanovo’s population declare themselves ethnic Bulgarians, though probably only a handful of them have obtained Bulgarian passports. However, among the owners of the Bulgarian-licensed cars, and passports, is also a local math teacher who declares himself an ethnic Serb. He tells of having some ethnic Romanians in his family tree a few generations ago, but no Bulgarian connections whatsoever.

By far the biggest number of people claiming Bulgarian ethnic identity to get Bulgarian citizenship are from Macedonia. While Bulgaria recognizes Macedonian independence, it does not recognize the separate existence of a Macedonian nationality, leaving open the possibility for Macedonian Slavs--of which there are 1.2 million in the former Yugoslav republic--to declare themselves Bulgarians. Given Macedonia's likely continued exclusion from the European Union owing to the name dispute with Greece and an emergent history dispute with Bulgaria, claiming a Bulgarian ethnic identity makes sense. Joanne van Selm's June 2007 profile of Macedona notes this.

It goes without saying that this is exceptionally controversial in Macedonia.

The Bulgarian case is fairly represented in Milena Hristova's February 2010 article for the Sofia News Agency, "Bulgarian Passports for Macedonians: Debunking Myths".
Macedonians strive to obtain Bulgarian citizenship for a number of reasons – to migrate to Bulgaria, to travel and work freely across the European Union and also due to the faith in the protection that the Bulgarian state can give them. “I would risk saying that this emotional factor is the most important and most often cited reason,” says Mandzhukova. She vehemently denies that the real motives are more pragmatic. “To say that Macedonians obtain Bulgarian citizenship as a passport to Europe is a stereotype that gives a very distorted reflection of the truth,” she says. According to her the influx of Macedonians to Bulgaria did not increase significantly after the country's accession to the European Union on January 1, 2007. “The first signs f the hype came much earlier when Bulgarian institutions agreed that the document our agency issues is enough to claim Bulgarian origin. This is when the real increase in applications came due to the streamlining of the process.” While in Macedonia many Macedonians try to cover the fact that they have signed such a declaration. “Well, certainly nobody will shout it at the top of his lungs. But first of all if someone considers what the Macedonian authorities think important, he would not sign the declaration in the first place, “ Mandzhukova says.

(A April 2012 essay by the Sofia News Agency argues the Bulgaria gives Bulgarian nationality to many fewer Macedonians than Romania gives Romanian nationality to many fewer Moldovans, and is more moderate.)

The Macedonian International News Agency, meanwhile, doesn't address directly the denial of Macedonian nationhood, instead challenging via articles like "Bulgarian citizen: Should my wife become Macedonian to get Bulgarian Passport?" (published earlier this month) the justice of a citizenship policy that makes it difficult for long-time residents to naturalize.

"Practically none of the Macedonans who have obtained a Bulgarian passport lives in Bulgaria. A large majority of them obtain the passport so they can work in EU countries. My wife on the other hand lives in Bulgaria for 11 years, speaks perfect Bulgarian, pays taxes, however is unable to obtain a citizenship" explains Bulgarian citizen Stefan Rusenov in an interview with Dnevnik.

In Bulgaria, you need to be a Macedonian so you can obtain a Bulgarian citizenship or passport overnight.

Macedonians in Bulgaria don't speak Bulgarian, they don't pay taxes here, but when it comes to obtaining our citizenship, they do it in record time, within a year - says Stefan Rusenov whose wife is from the Ukraine and is unable to obtain Bulgarian citizenship for years. According to Bulgarian laws, she would need to give up her Ukrainian passport to become citizen of Bulgaria.

- Instead of receiving a response in a year, we got our response in three years - that my wife can obtain a citizenship in three years, but, the condition was she must give up her Ukrainian citizenship. Then more problems. From the Ukrainian Embassy we were told she must register to fulfill her request of giving up her Ukrainian citizenship (which lasts 8 months), and only after that she can submit her request to give up her Ukrainian passport - explains Rusenov in frustrating fashion.

3. Bulgaria has long been a European periphery.

GDP per capita and Human Development Index in European countries, 1870 and 1913
Taken here, from the online version of the second volume of the Cambridge Economic History of Europe by Broadberry and O'Rourke, this draws upon the historical statistics of Arthur Maddison to come up with a ranking of European countries by economic and human development in the belle époque. Of note is the fact that Bulgaria's relative underdevelopment is a fact of long-standing, one that isn't a relatively recent artifact of Communism as in central Europe. Although income and development gaps have narrowed in the subsequent century, they are still quite large. Attempts at enforcing an agricultural specialization via Comecon's doctrine of an "International Socialist Division of Labour" never were very successful, but neither was (for instance) the attempt to develop a computer industry in the 1980s (that led, mainly, to computer viruses). The catastrophic breakup of the former Yugoslavia further hit Bulgaria. Bulgaria, now in 2013 as in 1913, is one of the poorest countries in Europe.

There is an abundant literature about migration from post-Communist Bulgaria, for instance the Open Society Bulgaria 2005 report "Bulgarian Migration: Incentives and Constellations", a 2013 fact sheet from the same organization "Is There A Threat of Bulgarian Migration to the UK?" (quick answer: no), Fatma Usheva's 2011 thesis "Emigration from Bulgaria: 1989 - Today", or Eugenia Markova's 2010 report for the Hellenic Observatory, "Effects of Migration on Sending Countries: Lessons from Bulgaria". Suffice it to say that after the end of the Soviet Union, Bulgarian migrants went first to adjacent and relatively prosperous Greece, then starting to move in large numbers to Spain in the late 1990s, with Germany recently emerging as a destination of choice. Bulgarian migrants went to places where they could find jobs easily, often in the informal sector, usually in countries that were relatively close to their homeland. Bulgarian foreign minister Nikolay Mladenov was quite right to tell The Telegraph that Bulgarians are not especially likely to move to the United Kingdom in large numbers.

These three patterns of migration, driven by ethnic identity and relative underdevelopment, seem likely to endure. The odds of Bulgaria transforming sufficiently to not be a relatively poor country with low fertility and very high rates of emigration are not, as Edward noted, high at all. Individual Bulgarians have every incentive to continue to leave their country, and with Bulgaria's full integration into the European Union's single market in labour, very few institutional barriers. It's also fair to wonder whether Turkey, just next door with relatively strong economic growth and a recent history of receiving large numbers of Bulgarian migrants, might also emerge as a destination for Bulgarians regardless of whether Turkey joins the European Union or not. Inasmuch as Macedonia, and the adjacent countries with large Bulgarian communities (Serbia, Moldova, Ukraine)