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Who? How? Where? Why? The migration profile of the Republic of Moldova



In the early 90’s, the national statistics of the newly formed Moldova reported a population of 4.5 million inhabitants. Today, this number has dropped significantly and, as it seems, it still continues to drop. Who are the people that are leaving Moldova today, what are the means they use, what are the destination countries, why do they leave and what are the consequences of the migration phenomenon in Moldova will be discussed in this article.

The total population of the Republic of Moldova was recorded as being 2 681 734 inhabitants in 2019, according to the National Statistical Database of Moldova. The UN projections said that the Moldova’s population will decrease to 2 million inhabitants by 2100.

The migration situation is predominantly characterized by emigration of Moldovan citizens, while immigration of non-citizens or foreign-born persons can be described as insignificant from a statistical point of view, according to a statement of International Organisation for Migration.


The Extended Migration Profile of the Republic of Moldova Report for 2010-2015 displayed a number of Moldovan citizens who were residing abroad of approximately 753 800, out of whom 282 100 were staying for a period of 12 months and beyond, whereas the Statistical Compendium of Migration and Asylum Bureau displayed an estimated number of 805 509 Moldovan citizens registered as living abroad at the end of 2015.

The above-mentioned reports show that the majority of the emigrating population is from rural areas (69%), aged between 15 and 44 years (78.9%), with secondary education or high school degree (50%), predominantly being people who worked in agriculture before.


Since April 2014, when the Moldova–European Union Association Agreement was signed, Moldovan citizens with biometric passports can travel to the Schengen Area without needing a visa. They may also stay in all EU countries for maximum 3 months in every 6 months. For longer periods of stay, Moldovan citizens need to obtain designated visas or work permits.

When looking at the Schengen visa applications though, it can be observed that not so many people actually apply for long-term visas – only 2627 people applied in 2018. That is happening because, at present, the big majority of citizens of Moldova don’t need any visa, as they are citizens of Romania as well.


The National Authority for Citizenship of Romania announced that, from 2002 until 2018, a total of 521 025 citizens of the Republic of Moldova regained the Romanian citizenship. Why regained? The territory of the today’s Republic of Moldova was part of Romania between 1918-1940, therefore the children and grandchildren of former Romanian citizens have the right to regain their grandparents’ or parents’ citizenship.


Since its independence, the migration from Moldova has been directed towards two main regions: The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries, predominantly Russia (more than 59% of Moldovan migrants in 2015), as well as Western Europe, particularly Italy (more than 17% of Moldovan migrants in 2015).

source: made by the author, based on the Extended Migration Profile of the Republic of Moldova Report for 2010-2015


Today, people are not leaving for the same reasons as in the early 90’s. The emigration period between 1990-2000 was constrained by extreme poverty,  high rate of illegal crossing of the border and problems with trafficking in human beings.

Nowadays, the main push factor for Moldovan migrants is poverty as well, but also lack of adequate employment opportunities and low salaries, while higher living standards abroad act as a pull factor. People are not forced to leave by extreme poverty circumstances anymore, as they were in 90’s. They leave because they want to establish abroad and they take their entire families with them.

As Sergiu Tofilat, the expert of the Institute of European Policies and Reforms, stated for DW, people are moving abroad because the level of remuneration in Moldova is much lower compared to developed countries. “Similarly, the pension system is inefficient and unable to guarantee the employee a decent pension. Another cause is excessive corruption and bureaucracy in local and central public institutions, selective justice and the law firm’s biased activity. The interests of the citizens are not protected by the law, and they no longer trust the police and the prosecutor’s office. We can continue endlessly with the list of causes, such as the poorly developed medical and educational system, destroyed infrastructure,etc.” the expert said.

Young people are mainly leaving to look for a job or to study abroad, but there are also people who work only temporarily, having breaks to return home for 1-3 months.


Positive consequences

People that leave and work abroad and still have families in the Republic of Moldova use to transfer money in form of remittances. These amounts of money represent not only an important source of income for people living in Moldova, but also contribute to the increase of GDP nominal value. In 2018, the Republic of Moldova ranks 9th in a world ranking of remittances related to GDP, with a value of 16.1%, according to the World Bank data.

In September 2019, there were transferred $100.45 million (up by 2.9% compared to September 2018) from abroad to individuals and private households through licensed banks of Moldova and official money transfer services, almost the entire amount representing remittances, as National Bank of Moldova reported.

source: made by the author, based on the data from the National Bank of Moldova

Negative consequences

At such an emigration rate, the Republic of Moldova is facing major demographic problems. The difference between mortality and birthrate increases year by year. In 2018 for example, the difference between the number of persons who died and those who were born was 2 565. The life expectancy in Moldova is one of the lowest in Europe. It was 66.2 years for men and 75 for women in 2018, according to the the National Statistical Database of Moldova.

There are no exact statistics that would indicate how many houses were left forever, how many children suffered from the temporary emigration of their parents and how many companies were closed because of workforce shortage. Still, these consequences persist and will continue to influence the economy and society of the Republic of Moldova for many years yet.


EU official: “It’s been a long time we’ve been patient. We will judge the Government’s actions objectively.”



Director for Russia, Eastern partnership, Central Asia and OSCE, and Deputy Managing Director for Europe and Central Asia at the European External Action Service (EEAS), Luc Pierre Devigne, paid a visit to Chișinău today to participate in the 5th meeting of the EU-Moldova Association Committee.

He addressed a message to the Moldovan government during a press conference, criticising the way the reforms were implemented in the country, especially the way the famous bank fraud from Moldova, called also “the theft of the century” was investigated. Devigne considers inadmissible the fact that, after five years, the persons and companies that were involved in the fraud were not held accountable.

“It is unacceptable that after the theft of the billion was uncovered and deeply investigated by a leading financial investigation team – the Kroll company, whose findings were made publicly available, the investigation was still not finalised on various pretexts. We cannot believe that it is legally not possible to prosecute such a fraud.[…] It is the responsibility of the Government to ensure that justice works in the country. We want to see an open and transparent process that includes not only the Government, but also the consultation of opposition, civil society and the EU institutions recommendations.” said Devigne.

The EU official told the Moldovan politicians: “It’s time for actions. It’s been a long time we’ve been supportive, we’ve been patient. Now, we will judge the Government’s actions objectively.”

“The EU has always supported the Republic of Moldova, but the EU cannot substitute for good governance and the actions that should be taken by the Government. Our support is not unconditional.”

He said that European assistance will depend on how laws and democratic standards will be respected in Moldova. Particularly, Luc Pierre Devigne mentioned that the Republic of Moldova should join the Anticorruption Network for an effective fight against corruption, strengthen independent media and improve the quality of life in the case of the Moldovan citizens.

Luc Pierre Devigne also referred to the subject of the Citizenship by Investment Law, on which the Government applied a moratorium, but only until February 24, 2020. The official was disappointed that people who obtained such kind of citizenship remained anonymous. “We do not see this as compatible with a serious and secure visa liberalisation regime. It’s a security issue.” highlighted Devigne.

One of the central messages of the EU delegation to Moldova concerned the importance of boosting the cooperation between Moldova and the community bloc.

At the same time, the Moldovan authorities reiterated their commitment to comply with the recommendations of international organisations such as the OSCE and the Venice Commission, and to ensure public consultations on major projects.


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Global Talent Competitiveness Index: Moldova when it comes to Artificial Intelligence



The 7th edition of the Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI) addressed the topic Global Talent in the Age of Artificial Intelligence. The index is used to rank 132 national economies, across all groups of income and levels of development, that representing 97% of the world’s GDP and 94% of its population. The report referred, first of all, to the level of innovation and technology development, exploring how the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not only changing the nature of work but also forcing a re-evaluation of workplace practices, corporate structures and innovation ecosystems.

This year, Moldova ranked 86th out of 132 analysed economies, being ranked behind the neighbouring countries such as Ukraine and Romania, which ranked 66th and 64th, respectively.

The countries that are best positioned to benefit from the AI revolution are also the most developed countries in the world, especially when it comes to the competitiveness and potential of attracting and training best professionals. Top ten countries in the ranking are Switzerland, the United States of America, Singapore, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland, Luxembourg, Norway and Australia.

New York, London, Singapore, San Francisco, Boston, Hong Kong, Paris, Tokyo, Los Angeles and Munich are among the most developed cities in this regard.





GTCI highlights

One of the most important observations made in the GTCI report for 2020 is that the gap between talent champions (almost all of them high-income countries) and the rest of the world is widening. Still, AI may provide significant opportunities for emerging countries to leapfrog.

The top of the GTCI rankings is still dominated by Europe, including the Nordic countries – a significant number of small high-income economies, many of them being either landlocked, island or quasi-island economies, including Switzerland (1st), Singapore (3rd), Luxembourg (8th), Iceland (14th) or Austria (17th).

According to the report, the key factor is developing relatively open socio-economic policies in which talent growth and management are central priorities in the age of AI.


Moldova managed to get a score of 36.64, being ranked 86th out of 132 countries. It was classified as lower-middle income country and ranked 7th out of 32 countries included in this category. The country’s talent competitiveness index weakened as compared to the period between 2015-2017, when it was listed around the 61st position.

Moldova was evaluated with the highest scores for such aspects as gender development gap, ease of doing business, number of female graduates, competition intensity and political stability, while the lowest scores were given for its share of R&D expenditure, robot density, university ranking, number of registered researchers, scientific journal articles, labour productivity per employee, new business density and collaboration across organisations.

This year’s model of the GTCI index includes a total of 70 variables, up from 68 indicators used in the GTCI 2019.



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How corrupt Moldovan citizens are? Comparative figures



When talking about corruption, most of Moldovan citizens blame the ‘system’ built by politicians and their political regimes throughout history. And that may be true, but only to some degree. When looking deeper, it can be actually observed that little corruption acts are perceived as a normality by a lot of individuals and legal entities in the country. That is what is shown in a recent study conducted by by the Center for Social Studies and Marketing “CBS – Research”. The study assessed the impact of the National Integrity and Anticorruption Strategy for the years 2017-2020.

 516 million lei – this is the total amount of bribes offered by Moldovans in 2019. On average, a Moldovan citizen has offered at least five bribes, while an enterprise has been involved in about three corruption acts. Businesses paid bribes worth 197,3 million lei, while individuals offered a total of 319,4 million lei as bribes during the last year, estimated the study. The value of the one illegal payment ranged from 50 to 20 thousand lei.

The research was carried out on the basis of a national survey where 1 120 persons, 506 companies and 606 civil servants from central, district and local public administration participated. The data were presented in comparison to the situation in 2017, when the first such survey was conducted. It was carried out within the project “Fight against corruption by strengthening integrity in the Republic of Moldova”, implemented by UNDP in collaboration with the National Anticorruption Center, and the support of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The total value of the bribes offered by Moldovans is lower, however, compared to those from two years ago, when the amounts varied between 100 and 500 thousand lei in the case of companies and between 50 lei and 8 thousand lei in the case of individuals, as the study stated.

Even though the study affirmed that corruption remains a serious problem for the Moldovan society, the level of intolerance of the population towards corruption has increased. Thus, about 62% of individuals (compared to 45% in 2017) and 83% of businesses (compared to 61% in 2017) consider any corruption situations unacceptable and declare that they do not accept to offer or receive bribes, regardless of the situation and implied personal benefit.

Moreover, both individuals (73% of respondents) and companies (80% of them) are aware that bribery entails punishment of both parties involved, and 87% of them, on average, would report the corruption acts to the anti-corruption agencies in the event of such a situation.

In the opinion of the civil servants participating in the survey, among the main causes of corruption are the low salaries in the public sector and the mentality of demanding and giving bribes in money and /or goods.

The same causes for corruption acts were emphasised by a survey conducted by Transparency International (TI) Moldova throughout the employees of 13 central public authorities. The survey results revealed that a quarter (24.6%) of civil servants who work in public institutions, and answered the survey, consider that their workplace is affected by corruption. More details about the survey can be found here.

Although the legislation obliges civil servants to report corruption cases and other abuses to the head of the public entity or to the responsible authority, a considerable part of the respondents (about 27%) are openly not willing to do it for reasons of personal security and lack of trust in empowered bodies, according to the TI-Moldova report.

Thus, the main factors that could determine the involvement of citizens in corruption abatement activities are the confidence that they will be protected if they denounce a public official for corruption acts, as well as the trust in the independence of the justice, showed the Center for Social Studies and Marketing study, as being reported by TV8.

“Committing acts of corruption must become non-profitable. But to drive forward those reforms, independent, effective, and incorruptible leaders of the judiciary and law enforcement bodies are urgently needed,” said Stanislav Pavlovschi, a Moldovan judge formerly at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), for the Global Voices portal.

In 2019, Moldova registered a score of 32 points for the Corruption Perception Index for 2019 released by Transparency International, being ranked 120th out of 180 countries. The score for Moldova worsened as compared to the 2018 year, when the country recorded 33 points, whereas improved when confronted to the data from 2017 – 31 points. More details here.


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