Migration – both forced and voluntary – has dramatically affected the former Soviet republic of Georgia in recent decades. Correspondingly, interest in the question of how migration affects the country is increasing. However, most of the migration studies about Georgia produced in the last few years have been descriptive only, focusing on the structural characteristics and the causes of migration rather than its developmental consequences. This report aims to fill in some of the gaps in the evidence base by providing the first comprehensive dataset on migration and development in Georgia, and by using rigorous propensity score matching methodologies to assess a range of the impacts that migration appears to be having on the development of individuals and households in Georgia. It then interprets these findings to draw out some key recommendations for policymakers.
1. According to our data, 7.4 percent of Georgia’s current population has experienced some kind of migration: that is, they are either absent migrants or they have migrated and returned, with a roughly equal number in each group. Based on the size of the sample, the number of migrants currently abroad is estimated to be around 140,000. Another 138,000 are estimated to be returned migrants.
2. Men are more likely to migrate from Georgia than women: while the share of men among non-migrants is 48.4 percent, among migrants (both absent and returned) men constitute just over 60 percent. Males also start migrating earlier, with our survey indicating that 14.6 percent of male migrants are aged 18-24, whereas only 5.1 percent of female migrants fall in this age range.
3. Russia has traditionally been the most important destination for Georgian migrants, and our survey indicates that the number of migrants currently in Russia who left in the last ten years is somewhere around 49,000. However, our evidence also suggests that migration patterns seem to be changing. The countries of Western Europe, particularly Greece, now have a higher share of currently absent Georgian migrants at 40.4 percent, while 36.5 percent are currently in Russia. This contrasts with the destination choices of returned migrants (more than 57.3 percent of returned migrants in our sample had come back from Russia, but just 17.8 from Western Europe).