Studie - Labour migration in the Western Balkans: Mapping Patterns, Addressing Challenges and Reaping Benefits

Contract partner: OECD - Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development - Headquarters Country: Europa, regional/länderübergreifend Funding amount: € 200.000,00 Project start: 01.12.2020 End: 30.09.2022

Short Description:

Overall goal

The project aims to contribute to achieving SDGs related to improve migration policies (Indicator 10.7.2. Number of countries with migration policies that facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people), in particular: 600 beneficiaries shall be reached with this study.

• Well-coordinated and integrated policy approach to address main challenges of labour migration (emigration, remigration, circular migration) and to embed migration and diaspora strategies in the wider development strategies and structural reform agendas of the Western Balkans.

• More favourable conditions to lower propensity of labour to leave their home country to seek jobs abroad and to encourage members of the diaspora to make contributions to develop their home countries

• Increased propensity to engage in circular migration and better re-integration of temporary migrants (esp. educational migrants) in the job market of the home countries.

• Increased civic engagement of returnees.

Expected results

The project will benefit governments, as it will guide policy reform to achieve sustained, inclusive and sustainable growth with decent work conditions for all. For the labour migrants, it can support attaining better living and working conditions and support investment decisions in their home countries. For the academia, it can enrich research and debate. For the development cooperation community, it can help prioritise funding decisions. For the civil society, it can enhance civic engagement. More precisely it provides:

• Evidence based information for governments on the population’s patterns, root causes and considerations of interlinkages between policies and behaviour of the population with regards to migration (SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, SDG 4: Quality Education, SDG 10: Reduced Inequality).

• Better understanding of the benefits and pitfalls of temporary and permanent labour migration and country-specific policy recommendations how to capitalise on human talent (SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, SDG 4: Quality Education, SDG 10: Reduced Inequality).

• Gender-sensitive migration-related analysis and recommendations (SDG 5: Gender Equality)

• Policy recommendations how to navigate the Covid-19 effects on labour emigration in the near and long-term.

Target group / Beneficiaries

The target audience and main beneficiaries of this study are primarily the six Western Balkan Governments (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Kosovo, Serbia and Albania), which will benefit from insights not only on the emigration patterns of their citizens, but also from the recommendations and good practices that will be shared to help them stem the outflow of their work force and talent, maximizing the chances as well as potential gains from the return of migrants from abroad as well as fostering circular migration. 600 beneficiaries shall be reached with this study.


The OECD will conduct a comprehensive study to explore ways to address labour emigration from the Western Balkans by addressing the following questions:

• What are the effects of emigration for the countries of origin and how can negative economic consequences of labour loss and remittance dependence be mitigated?

• What are the patterns of labour emigration and how can the acquired skills of returning labour migrants be used in the different Western Balkan economic sectors?

• What role can the diaspora play for a sustainable development of their home country and how can diaspora linkages be capitalised?

• How does Covid-19 effect labour emigration and what are short-term measures and long-term strategies to address emerging challenges?

The OECD report will issue country-specific recommendations to the Western Balkan economies and engage in a policy dialogue with governments across the region to prepare the ground for customised policy approaches.


The lack of quality jobs and career prospects in their home economies fuelled emigration from the Western Balkans, predominantly to OECD countries. Continued high levels of labour emigration, especially of young talents, pose a severe development challenge for the region: Potential investors do not find adequate skills on the labour market, which affects their investment decision. Domestic firms lack know-how to compete on global markets. High emigration, in particular among the youth, and little immigration has left an unfavourable age structure in the region. All the economies have an aging population, which has serious implications on their fragile health and social systems.

project number 8376-00/2020
source of funding OEZA
sector Staatsführung & Zivilgesellschaft, allgemein
tied 0
modality Other technical assistance
  • Policy marker: are used to identify, assess and facilitate the monitoring of activities in support of policy objectives concerning gender equality, aid to environment, participatory development/good governance, trade development and reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health. Activities targeting the objectives of the Rio Conventions include the identification of biodiversity, climate change mitigation, climate change adaptation, and desertification.
    • 1= policy is a significant objective of the activity
    • 2= policy is the principal objective of the activity
  • Donor/ source of funding: The ADA is not only implementing projects and programmes of the Austrian Development Cooperation , but also projects funded from other sources and donors such as
    • AKF - Foreign Disaster Fund of the Austrian federal government
    • BMLFUW - Federal Ministry for Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water
    • EU - Funds of the European Commission
    • Others - various other donors are listed in ADA’s annual business report.
  • Type of Aid – Aid modalities: classifies transfers from the donor to the first recipient of funds such as budget support, core contributions and pooled programmes and funds to CSOs and multilateral organisations, project-type interventions, experts and other technical assistance, scholarships and student costs in donor countries, debt relief, administrative costs and other in-donor expenditures.
  • Purpose/ sector code: classifies the specific area of the recipient’s economic or social structure, funded by a bilateral contribution.
  • Tied/Untied: Untied aid is defined as loans and grants whose proceeds are fully and freely available to finance procurement from all OECD countries and substantially all developing countries. Transactions are considered tied unless the donor has, at the time of the aid offer, clearly specified a range of countries eligible for procurement which meets the tests for “untied” aid.