The Malta Independent 22 January 2020, Wednesday

Almost a quarter of all Maltese have emigrated, World Bank study shows

Albert Galea Saturday, 19 October 2019, 09:03 Last update: about 4 months ago

Twenty-four per cent of all Maltese live outside of Malta, a report published by the World Bank indicates a statistic which means that the rate of emigration for the Maltese population is the highest out of any EU country.

The report, titled "Migration and the brain drain in Europe and Central Asia" delves into migration trends from across Europe and Central Asia and, amongst others, reports on the percentage of population which has both emigrated from a country and immigrated to a country.


At 24%, Malta’s emigration stock compared to total population, is the highest out of all EU countries, with Croatia (21.9%), Portugal (21.7%), and Lithuania (20.9%) being the only other three EU countries to exceed the 20% mark.

Malta’s rate is comparable to that of countries such as Kazakhstan (22.5%), Moldova (24%), Georgia (20.9%), Montenegro (21.9%), and the Republic of North Macedonia (25.7%), while it is eclipsed by the rate in Balkan countries such as Albania (39.8%) and Bosnia & Herzegovina (49.5%).

In analysing these figures, the World Bank’s study found that by plotting the share of the population in the labour force (people 24–65) that has higher education against the share of the population with higher education that emigrated it shows that higher-income countries have emigration rates below or about 20 percent. The only two exceptions to this norm, as specified by the report, are Malta and Portugal.

In contrast, the report reads, many Eastern European countries have much higher high-skilled emigration rates, which is contributing to a brain-drain in this region, with more and more high-skilled workers favouring emigration to countries with better economies and financial prospects for themselves.

The emigrant share to the top five destinations for Malta is shown as being 95.2% - essentially meaning that the vast majority of Maltese are emigrating to the same five countries.  The report does not specify which five countries these are.  That rate is substantially higher than any other EU country – the Czech Republic at 85.8% and Cyprus at 85.5% come in closest – showing that there seems to be a very fixed emigration pattern for the Maltese, at least in terms of their final destination.

On immigration meanwhile, the data shows that Malta’s immigrant stock share of its total population stands at 9.9% which is comparable to the percentage for Italy (9.7%) but which is quite a way lower than that of the country with the highest rate in the EU, which is Sweden at 16.1%.

Migrants’ share of the world population has barely changed over the past six decades, remaining remarkably stable at 2.5 to 3.5% even though in actual fact that numerical figure has increased by 75% since 1990 and tripled since 1960, the report says, although it then notes that the aggregate share hides changing patterns, with immigration increasingly concentrated in a handful of destination regions.

“For example, the share of immigrants in Western and Eastern Europe increased rapidly over the past four decades. Today, one of every three migrants in the world goes to Europe”, the report reads.

“This concentration has led to widespread opposition in high-income European countries, where migrants are often blamed for high unemployment and declining social services”, it continues.

“There are also widespread concerns about brain drain in the migrant-sending countries of Eastern Europe, the Western Balkans, South Caucasus, and Central Asia,” it reads.

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