Labour migration of the population of Ukraine to the countries of the European Union: factors and risks of influence

Keywords: labour migration, migration flows, demographic policy, economic crisis, economically active population, migration policy


Nowadays the migration of the population plays an important role in the development of a country, a region, a town and it is the result of socio-economic changes. The population of Ukraine and its regions is decreasing in recent years due to three main reasons: 1) the demographic crisis; 2) the activation of migration processes; 3) the military conflict in the east of the country. If the demographic component is a natural process that is covering European countries more than one year, then the others point out a lot of unfavorable factors that has been formed inside Ukraine and «push» the population into the international migration processes. The problem of labour migration is complex, systematic and its solution must be based on the improvement of socioeconomic policies of the country or region. Migration processes at the world-wide European and Ukrainian levels are investigated by such domestic scientists as O.A. Malynovska, Y.M. Pakhomov, A.O. Nadtochiy, D.V. Chekushyna, S.O. Zapadnyuk, V.P. Miklovoda, M.I. Pityulych, N.A. Syrochuk, V.S. Morokhovych and others. In the structure of migration flows of Ukraine foreign labour migration takes the first place, which has acquired a large-scale nature and has absorbed a significant number of economically active population of the country at the age of 20-34 years over the past 10 years. In particular, in 2016 the number of men who left Ukraine at the age of 20-24 was 3897 people; at the age of 25-29 years – 2360 people, at the age of 30-34 – 1086 people. As forwomen, their number varies in two age categories: 20-24 years old – 1487 people and 25-29 years old – 1226 people. The dynamics of the migration movement of the population in the regions of Ukraine is divided into four regions of Ukraine, which are «the leaders» according to the number of those who went abroad, namely: Dnipro region (2300 people), Transcarpathian region (1519 people), Odesa region (2126 people) and Kharkiv region (3291 people). According to the State Statistics Committee in Ukraine there are 16 million economically active citizens, 12.8 million of them officially work. Taking these numbers into consideration, the problems with the pension system will arise first and foremost. Nowadays 10 working Ukrainians account for 15 pensioners. If the pace of migration remains, then the ratio will change to 8 for 15. Analysts warn that according to the outflow of labour resources, Ukraine is losing about 40 billion UAH annually. Moreover, the shortage of workforce is putting back the development of some sectors of industry, agriculture, hospitality industry and leads to the decline of regions. It should be noted that unemployment is a major factor in the activation of labour migration in researches. The decline of the Ukrainian economy increased the unemployment level of the population. Although the pace of recovery of economic activity shows a positive dynamics, we have not succeeded yet in reaching the employment level of at least the pre-crisis period. The main reason for the unemployment increase was the fall of the economy and the corresponding decline in finances of enterprises. An analysis of the unemployment rate shows a significant disproportion in employment in the regions of Ukraine in January 2017. We distinguish such reasons: 1) different socio-economic level of development of regions; 2) lack of jobs; 3) political instability; 4) military actions in the east of the country. The best employment situation is observed in Kharkiv, Kyiv, Odesa, Lviv, Dnipro regions and the worst – in Luhansk, Donetsk, Volyn, Ternopil and Kirovograd regions. These important arguments prove the inevitability of the intensification of labour migration flowsinto the countries of the European Union and the European vector of labour migration for Ukrainians remains crucial not only today but also in the long run. The dynamics of labour migration from Ukraine is as follows: in 2008 the number of labour migrants from our country reached 1.2 million people and according to the ranking Russia, Italy, Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary were chosen; in 2012 the number of migrant workers has not changed (1.2 million), but the vectors of the countries, that migrants chose, have changed – Russia, Poland, Italy, the Czech Republic, Spain; in comparison with previous years in 2017 the number of migrant workers increased to 1.3 million people who settled in Poland, Russia, Italy, the Czech Republic and the USA. There is a slightlydifferent spatial picture of the migrants’ movement of Ukraine directly with the countries that it borders. We witness an abrupt increase in the numbers from 2012 till 2017 in Poland (up to 10 million people), in Hungary (up to 3 million people), Romania and Slovakia (1.5 million people). The departure of Ukrainian citizens to Russia has decreased, in particular, in 2013 the number was the largest and reached more than 6 million people. In the next period of 2014-2016, due to military actions in eastern Ukraine, the number decreased to 4 million people and only in 2017 began to increase to 5 million people again. It should be noted that 60% of them are labour migrants. The situation that has appeared in the field of labour migration requires the government of the country totake steps in regulating labour migration at the legislative level and to implement a number of measures, as follows:- the protection of the rights of labour migrants, the legalization of their employment;- the development of special regional programs for stimulating self-employment of those migrants who have returned from abroad after labour migration;- the assistance from public authorities in launching businesses, small businesses, farming by the labourers who returned;- to give them the opportunity to take refresher courses and retraining in different fields, etc.Thus, the analysis of new trends in labour migration both in Ukraine and in Transcarpathian region requires the intensification of the international cooperation with the member countries of the European Union in creating favorable conditions for the legalization of Ukrainian labour migrants, cooperation in the field of border control, the promotion of reverse migration, the raising the socio-economic standard of living in Ukraine, because the risks of labour migration are assessed as alarming.

Author Biographies

N. F. Habchak
State Higher Educational Institution «Uzhhorod National University»
L. F. Dubis
The John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, The Faculty of Mathematics, Informatics and Landscape, Departmentof Landscape EcologyIvan Franko National University of Lviv, Faculty of Geography, Chair of Geomorphology


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How to Cite
Habchak, N., & Dubis, L. (2019). Labour migration of the population of Ukraine to the countries of the European Union: factors and risks of influence. Journal of Geology, Geography and Geoecology, 28(1), 59-67.