Attila Melegh

Net Migration and Historical Development in Southeastern Europe since 1950*

This essay formulates some basic developmental patterns in Southeastern Europe (focusing on the area between Italy and the Caspian See) on the basis of some longer term macro statistics on net migration and other macro statistical time series. It demonstrates that in furthering an understanding of longer term developmental patterns, the world system approach is helpful in a modified form. In the case of state socialist economies the direct intervention of world capitalism had a long lasting impact on the migratory links of the countries within the region. Countries that were unable to counterbalance the collapse of local industry became sending countries and were partially re-ruralized and partially pushed into large scale emigration. The analysis lends credence to the neoclassic macro-economic theory of migration, but its validity with regard to per capita GDP differentials is strengthened if it is linked to positions in global hierarchies. The key point is that it is not simply GDP differentials that matter, but rather positions within the global economy, which themselves are in part the results of historical processes and linkages. In addition, people seem to have clear ideas of developmental scales which correspond quite accurately to actual per capita GDP figures. Thus people may well be aware of global inequalities and may even have clear ideas of complex sequences that might orientate them in their decisions regarding migration.

keywords: net migration, macro statistics, state socialist economies, global economy, patterns of migration, global history