YEREVAN — The rates of emigration from Armenia is terrifying. The brain drain deprives the country of intellect that could be used to foster economic growth. This information is included in the recent report on the survey on the decline of the Armenian population, which was presented during the International Conference on Demographic Challenges in Armenia organized jointly by the UN FPA and the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. Invited guests were Armenian researchers from Australia and the United States.

Victor Aghadjanian of Arizona State University introduced the impact of international migration on Armenian community households. Namely, the survey in Tavush, Ararat and Gegharkunik found that migrant families are less likely to engage in farming. There is no evidence that rural migrant workers will earn money abroad and return to their home to buy farming land and develop agriculture. In other words, migrants do not invest money in Armenia.

Polls in the mentioned regions revealed that the wives of married migrants are ready to leave Armenia with their children. Hence, according to Victor Aghadjanian, migration tends to uproot the economy. He says it takes a separate survey on the possible impact of membership to the Customs Union on migration flow. It will definitely have an impact if Armenia becomes a member of the CU, the expert says.

The report does not express any optimism. The survey revealed that emigration of young people is determined by the lack of opportunities for professional growth and development, as well as the wish to live in a society with better protection of human rights, democracy and governance. According to another survey covering the whole territory of Armenia, one third of all respondents is going to leave the country during the next two years. In addition, employed respondents are looking to leaving for other countries seeking for higher pay and better opportunities for use of their professional qualifications. The survey reveals that part of the Armenian population is going to move to other countries.

According to the survey, emigration is boosted by systemic issues such as centralization of business and monopolies, issues in education and judicial sectors. The report states that the business sector is handled by a group of people who are also directly involved in public administration, supervising specific areas or sector of economy. This makes smaller competitors vulnerable, causes unemployment, unequal distribution of funds over the society, the report holds.

The report also touches upon relations with the Diaspora. The authors of the report think it is necessary to draft a clear strategy and action plan for repatriation and admission of Diaspora Armenians returning to the homeland.

The officials of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs are not hiding the demographic plight in Armenia. Deputy Minister Petrosyan announced during the conference that the rate of poverty is at 35%, unemployment is high, the country is facing grave problems with territorial development and health. According to the deputy minister, the index of birth is very low, so it does not enable simple growth.

According to the deputy minister, the causes are the devastating earthquake in 1988 that was followed by the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Karabakh war and the transport blockade imposed by Azerbaijan and Turkey.

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