Academic journal article Journal of Social Research & Policy

Validity of the Push and Pull Hypothesis for the Explanation of Romanian Migration Flows

Academic journal article Journal of Social Research & Policy

Validity of the Push and Pull Hypothesis for the Explanation of Romanian Migration Flows

Article excerpt


The article focuses on the migration phenomenon from Romania to the European Union and considers the key motivations which may have shaped the decision to migrate. The research was based on statistical data provided by Eurostat. The period which has been reviewed was from 1990 to 2010, and key indicators such as gross national product, average wage and unemployment levels were analyzed. We have tried to show the possible correlations between the migration flow and these various indicators, and for these reasons, the theoretical support we have used as a starting point for the analysis was the push and pull theory. The results are presented in an attempt to demonstrate the patterns that have arisen when studying the overall migration flow from Romania to the European Union. At the same time, we have analyzed separate migration flows; from Romania to three main countries - Italy, Spain and Germany. We have demonstrated that the push-pull model is not applicable for the general migration flow from Romania into other European countries, and that the numbers of migrants cannot be explained simply by national economic indicators, whether these indicators refer to the origin country of the migrant, or the destination country of the migration. On the other hand, the push and pull model seems to be partially applicable when analyzing the migration flow into separate, individual countries. The studied cases of Italy and Spain could be seen as successfully given examples in this respect.

Keywords: Migration; Push and Pull Theory; Time Series; Gross National Product; Average Wage; Unemployment.


The statistical data compiled indicated that in the year 2010, there were as many as 2,769,400 Romanian migrants living and working in countries other than Romania within the European Union. This figure represented approximately 13.1 percent of the total population of Romania living outside their country of origin. Unofficial sources however regularly state that the real figures of Romanian immigrants living in the EU could actually exceed 3 million. This makes Romania the EU country with the most immigrants, followed by Poland with 1.6 million, Italy with 1.3 million and Portugal with 1.5 million.

The case of Romania is symptomatic for the European Union as it is today, adding a "new" mobile Europe to the "old" continent. After the last two enlargements of the EU, 2004 and 2007, labor migration became an important subject not only to politics, but also to the massmedia. Romania has evolved into one of the countries with a very large number of immigrants. In the present paper we study migration flows originating from Romania, as an example of intraeuropean migrations. We will follow and analyze the differences in pre-enlargement and post-enlargement migration flows. Using Romania as a case study has a number of advantages. First of all, for Romania there is as good as no historical precedent to the migration flows that started in 1990. Another advantage in analyzing the Romanian case is the large number of migrants that migrated to a small number of destination countries. Having very large numbers of migrants from Romania to Italy and Spain will allow for mathematical models that would not have the same relevance if migration patterns would have been less concentrated. Finally, for the test of push and pull models with economic variables we needed to eliminate competitive reasons to migrate having a political character. Thus a country of origin had to be chosen that has an open, democratic political system and no major human right violations.

The current situation where we see such a huge number of Romanians immigrating to other EU countries and further afield is exceptional in Romanian history, as traditionally, Romania has never been a country which has a strong leaning towards international migration. Until the 1990s, the levels of Romanian migration have been insignificant, to say the least, and this relatively high level of migration was only reached with the onset of the 1990s and over the past twenty or so years. …

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