Study on Social Remittances of Transnational (Re) Migrants to Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe

January 21, 2022

People who emigrated after the 1990s and have higher education are bringing back to Lithuania the democratic and civic values of the western world. High culture of professional communication, intolerance of corruption, sensitivity to the marginalized, tolerance of sexual minorities, and a more favourable attitude towards refugees—these are the changes that they bring to their closest circles. This had been the conclusion of a qualitative study conducted by researchers from Vytautas Magnus University (VMU) and the Institute for Social Innovation, together with colleagues in Croatia, Poland and the United Kingdom. The main topic of the study was “social remittances”: knowledge, experiences, social skills, norms, values, social capital and other social and cultural resources that have an impact on the growth of well-being in societies of (re) migrants.

According to Dr Vytis Čiubrinskas, Head of the Centre for Social Anthropology at VMU, who led the research, social remittances among Lithuanians living abroad have been very pronounced. Lithuanians, who live abroad or return from abroad, have a strong desire to act for the benefit of Lithuania. This does not necessarily manifest itself on a large scale or in obvious actions, such as setting up companies or organizations. However, they do take active steps and spread what they have brought with them from their experience abroad: self-confidence, democratic values, tolerance, sensitivity to exclusion and human rights, and an anti-corruption attitude.

The study also has revealed that (re) migrants are also receiving: by actively sharing their experiences, knowledge and attitudes, they are given back confirmation of their status and identity, as well as a sense of self-worth.

The study also explored the influence of media and social media on the return of (re)migrants. The results have shown that, in general, Lithuanian media tend to cover stories of returnees more positively and thus have a positive impact on people’s desire to return. However, the biggest impact has been made by real return stories heard directly from other people. In this context, social networks play an important role, serving as a platform for face-to-face contact, practical advice and support.

The study also has shown that both the decision to migrate and the decision to return are influenced by complex personal, family and career circumstances. It concludes that more and more people would return to Lithuania if there was a clear commitment and measures on a national level to ensure a successful and comprehensive reintegration, and even if they decide to leave again, to allow them to be involved in the life of the country.

The detailed findings of the study “Social Remittances of (Re)migrants for the Society’s Well-being: Challenges and Experiences in a Comparative Perspective (The Cases of Lithuania, Poland and Croatia)” will be presented in a book, Returning – Remitting – Receiving: Social Remittances of Transnational (Re)migrants to Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, to be published in 2022.