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Massive emigration leading
to manpower shortages

 

Sometimes we find signs of demographic change
where we least expect them. In the airport statistics
of the town of Bacau in northeastern Romania, for
instance. While the airport processed barely 10,000
passengers in 2001, the number has since risen year
after year. In 2005 the figure was close to 40,000,
and the trend continues to rise. The boom is, however,
not a sign of Bacau’s attractiveness. On the contrary,
the low-cost airlines that serve the town mainly take
people out of the country — to Italy and Spain, where
they find work and livelihoods as construction workers
or fruit pickers. These countries are particularly
attractive for Romanians, their languages sound familiar
to Romanians, and even the climate is similar to that
at home. In fact, Spain now has some places with a
Romanian majority, even with a Romanian political
party.

 

By cross-Romanian comparison, the Northeast region
is still fairly well off in demographic terms. Since 1990
its population has contracted only by 1.2 per cent. The
regions West and Centre have lost twelve per cent.
However, the area around Bacau, a centre of the chemical
and other heavy industries in the communist era, is
the poor house of today’s united Europe. Here, in the
lowlands between the Carpathians and the Republic of
Moldova, people earn an average of 5,070 euros a year,
only one thirteenth of the per capita GNP reported for
the Inner London region.

 

(...)

 

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