Flows of new migrants over time
The flow of emigrants leaving both Moldova and Georgia was relatively small in the immediate post-Soviet years, and in both countries a greater proportion of emigrants were men until the early-to-mid 2000s. As Figures 1 and 2 show, the number of “new migrants” (those individuals emigrating abroad for the first time) steadily increased since 1991, with the greatest proportion of new migrants leaving from Moldova in 2008 and Georgia in 2010. Moldovan women emigrated at consistently lower rates than men and have yet to constitute half of all new migrants; in 2010, the year in which the greatest proportion of women left, men still accounted for over 52 percent of all new migrants. Georgian women, in contrast, accounted for more than half of all new migrants since 2004, with the greatest proportion (nearly 64 percent) emigrating in 2007.
Despite the slower rates at which women from both countries entered migration in the early years following independence, the average rate of growth was much higher among women than men—indicating a much sharper increase in the rate at which women entered migration in later years. The later entry of women into international migration is reflected in average year of first migration: among men from both countries the average year of first migration was 2005, and for women from both countries, 2006. Such differences were significant at the .01 percent level.
Migrant destination over time
Gendered differences in migration trajectories are also clear when the destinations of new migrants over time are plotted. Figures 3, 4, 5 and 6 illustrate how the destinations of first-time migrants changed over time, with countries of destination classified into one of three regions: the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the European Union (EU), and the other region (comprising all non-CIS/non-EU destinations).
Among Moldovan migrants of both genders, the main destination in the CIS region was the Russian Federation and in the EU, Italy. Main destinations in the “other” region included Canada and Israel.
With the exception of 2004, when nearly all new male Moldovan migrants left for a CIS country, around 70 percent of men in any given year since 2000 emigrated to the Russian Federation, an additional ten percent to Italy, and smaller proportions to other countries such as Canada and the Ukraine. Women, in contrast, appeared to diversify in terms of destination much earlier and to a greater extent. The earliest female migrants from Moldova, like their male counterparts, were destined primarily for the CIS, but by the mid-1990s they began emigrating in greater numbers to countries in the EU such as Italy and Spain as well as countries such as Canada. The Russian Federation and Italy consistently received the greatest proportions of new female migrants over time, but the total share of new migrants destined for any given single destination appear to be shrinking—suggesting a greater dispersion of female migrants that likely reflects increasing economic opportunities in more geographically-dispersed countries. Countries in the EU—chiefly Italy—have remained important destinations for female migrants, but emerging appealing markets such as Israel and Turkey have also begun attracting larger numbers of female migrants.
The destination patterns of Georgian migrants were similar. Among Georgian men, the CIS (namely the Russian Federation) consistently attracted over half of all emigrants leaving in every year until 2000. The EU (chiefly Greece) received the second-largest shares of male emigrants over several years, and many other countries consistently received small shares of male migrants over time. Beginning in 2003, however, Turkey emerged as a key destination, and by 2010 nearly 40 percent of all new male emigrants were destined for Turkey. This pattern likely reflects two trends: the increasingly hostile relationship between Georgia and Russia—including the elimination of the visa-free travel regime in 2000 and periodic suspensions of visa issuance to Georgians—as well as the creation of a visa-free regime for Georgians in Turkey in 2006.
The destination patterns of Georgian women stand in stark contrast both to those of men and to those of their Moldovan female counterparts. In contrast to the other groups, which expressed strong clustering around several single destinations until the most recent years, Georgian women always emigrated to larger numbers of receiving countries. In the CIS, the Russian Federation received the greatest single proportion of Georgian women fairly consistently until 2000, but even from 1991 to 2000, other countries such as Turkey and Greece received significant shares of new emigrants (Figures 7 and 8). Since around 2003, both the EU and “other” region have attracted the greatest shares of female migrants, the largest numbers of whom were destined for Greece, Turkey, and Italy. As with Moldovan women, the destination countries to which Georgian women have increasingly emigrated are those with growing care markets.
The stocks of migrants living abroad (all migrants living abroad in 2011 regardless of year of first migration) are concentrated in specific destinations. Nearly three-quarters of all male Moldovan migrants resided in the Russian Federation at the time of the survey, with the next-largest proportion residing in Italy. Almost equal proportions of Moldovan women resided in the Russian Federation (35 percent) as Italy (32 percent), with the remaining third living in larger communities in countries such as Israel and Canada.
A much greater level of dispersion can be seen among Georgian emigrants. The largest single proportion of men (40 percent) resided in the Russian Federation at the time of the survey, with much smaller shares living in countries such as Turkey (13.8 percent) and Greece (7.9 percent). Female emigrants were slightly more dispersed, with the largest share (27 percent) residing in Greece and the next-largest share, 23 percent, residing in Turkey. Significant populations also resided in Italy and Russia, with smaller numbers split among other EU member states.
Country of destination and year of entry into international migration are naturally tied to the political and economic conditions in both home and host country. The limited mobility of both men and women in the early post-Soviet years reflects very particular forms of mobility—likely the “return” of ethnic Russians, Ukrainians, Greeks, etc. to ancestral homelands as well as the migration of an elite group who had both the means and motivation to emigrate further abroad. Increased rates of emigration in the mid-to-late-1990s likely reflects individuals going abroad to find employment in the midst of severe and protracted economic stagnation, which peaked in the late 1990s—particularly in Moldova—in response to the Russian financial crisis. Given the relatively high cost of emigrating to destinations further abroad, it is unsurprising that most migration during this time was to neighbouring countries.
The increasing rate of female entry into international migration in the 2000s is a likely function of shrinking economic opportunities in the home country as well as the growth of gender-segmented labour markets in receiving countries (Table 2). The relatively early diversification of women and the greater geographical dispersion of women compared to men corresponded to changes in the economic opportunities for both genders that were either promoted or stymied by political relationships.
Demographic characteristics of current migrants
Migrants are unlikely to be randomly selected from among the general population and would be expected to differ from non-migrants based on both observable and unobservable personal characteristics such as age and education level. Given differences in the secondary selection of migrants into specific destination countries, male and female current migrants would also be expected to differ from one another. Comparison of the “average” characteristics of both male and female current- and non-migrants suggests that the populations differ significantly from one another in important ways.
In Moldova, female migrants were significantly younger than their non-migrant counterparts, whereas for men, age did not differ significantly between migrant and non-migrant populations. Both male and female current migrants from Georgia were significantly older than their non-migrant counterparts, with the difference particularly marked among Georgian men. Migrant populations of both sexes and from both countries had completed significantly more years of education than had non-migrants, and in both countries female current migrants had completed more years of education than male migrants. This may suggest that the relatively better-educated members of the population are incentivized to migrant, either because of better productivity of education abroad or because of the differences in personal attitudes and capacities associated with better education. At the same time, the differences between men and women likely reflects differences in the sectors in which male and female migrants work abroad, with men working in industries such as construction and manufacturing where education may not increase their competitiveness.
Other personal characteristics, such as family or household composition, are likely to also influence whether an individual will select into migration and, if so, to where. In both countries, current migrants resided with a smaller number of children than did non-migrants, and this difference was highly significant for all groups in both countries. Migrants from Georgia appeared to be particularly dissuaded from migrating with the presence of children in the household, which may reflect the relatively greater distance migrants would have to travel to find a suitable destination labour market (with the exception of neighbouring countries such as Turkey, which has become accessible and desirable only relatively recently). Residing with a greater number of elderly individuals also seemed to discourage female migrants from both countries and male migrants from Moldova.
Marital status differed significantly between men and women and between migrant and non-migrant populations. In both countries marital status appeared to be only weakly correlated to male migration, with few marital statuses proving significantly different between migrant and non-migrant populations. Among women, however, significant differences by marital status were clear. In both Moldova and Georgia, a smaller proportion of the current migrant population was widowed compared to the non-migrant population, but a much larger proportion of current migrants were divorced (Table 3). The proportion of female current migrants who were divorced was three times that of the non-migrant population, suggesting that there is a strong relationship between marriage dissolution and migration that levies a much stronger influence on women than mena.
Mobility patterns of current migrants
Demographic characteristics of the migrant samples as well as differing contexts in destination countries would be expected to differentially impact the mobility patterns of men and women.
The average amount of time migrants resided abroad between 1999 and 2010 differed considerably by destination region but seldom differed significantly between the sexes, with only Moldovan male and female migrants residing in the CIS found to have significantly-different average lengths of stay.
More significant differences between the sexes appeared in the type of migration and return pattern. In both Moldova and Georgia, fewer women than men were consider circular or seasonal migrants. Among Moldovan migrants this difference was significant for migrants in the CIS region, where over 74 percent of men were considered circular/seasonal migrants compared to 63.5 percent of female migrants. In Georgia the significant difference appeared among migrants to the EU, where 7.5 percent of men compared to 3.6 percent of women were considered circular/seasonal migrants. These differences likely reflect seasonality of male-dominated occupations such as construction and agriculture. A larger share of Moldovan women than men residing in the EU returned once per year, and more women than men residing in the CIS returned less than once a year. Among Georgians fewer women than men residing in a country in the “other” region returned at least once a year.
The decision to migrate the last time also differed between men and women and by destination region. In both countries the largest single shares of emigrants of both sexes left because of an absence of a job in the home country. Among Moldovans, the second-largest share of migrants left because of the wage differentials between employment opportunities in the local and foreign labour market, reinforcing the strongly economic nature of Moldovan migration. In contrast, the second-largest shares of Georgian migrants emigrated for other reasons, such as fleeing conflict or seeking a “better way” of life abroad. Marked differences can be seen by destination, however, but relatively few differences between men and women were significant. Among both Moldovan and Georgia migrants to the CIS, a smaller share of men than women emigrated for family reunification purposes, but among Georgian migrants to the EU, a larger share of men than women emigrated on the grounds of family reunification. This may signal that women to particular destinations are increasingly becoming the ‘pioneer’ migrants whom men then follow as ‘trailing’ spouses or children.
Differences between men and women in destination choice and personal characteristics correspond to marked differences in the sectors of employment of men and women. The largest single share of Moldovan men in each destination region worked in the construction sector, with nearly three-quarters of all Moldovan men in the CIS region working in construction. Smaller shares of men worked in the hospitality industry (in hotels and restaurants) or in the manufacturing sector, and in the “other” region, larger shares of men worked in social or personal service occupations. Moldovan women, in contrast, were more evenly distributed among a larger number of occupational sectors across destination regions. Nearly 40 percent of female migrants in the CIS worked in construction, whereas in the EU and ‘other’ regions, over 40 percent of all female migrants worked for individual household employers. Relatively large shares of women in the CIS worked in wholesale or retail trade, and larger shares worked in the transport and telecommunications sector as well as in social and personal services in both the EU and ‘other’ regions.
Differing occupational distributions of Georgian migrants can be seen by destination region (Figures 9 and 10). The largest share of men in all regions worked in the construction sector, but a much larger share of men in the CIS region (over 40 percent) worked in construction compared to men in the EU and ‘other’ regions. A similar share of men in all regions (between ten and 11 percent) worked for individual household employers, and significant shares also worked in the manufacturing sector (where over 20 percent of men in the ‘other’ region worked). In the ‘other’ region, a relatively share of men (over 15 percent) worked in the agriculture sector, more than in the CIS or EU. In contrast, the majority of women across all destinations worked in an ‘other’ sector, a category encompassing a range of sectors (such as education, healthcare, and banking) in which small numbers of respondents worked. The second-largest single shares of women in the EU and ‘other’ region worked for individual household employers: over 42 percent of women in the EU and 34 percent in the ‘other’ region worked as caregivers or cleaning staff for individual households. In the CIS region, very small shares of women worked for individual households, but relatively larger shares worked in manufacturing (18.2 percent), wholesale/retail (14.5 percent), and hospitality (15.6 percent).