Demographic experts attacked Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius for saying that increased emigration from Lithuania was down to military conscription, pointing instead to low wages and long term emigration trends as the key reasons behind the increase.
Algirdas Butkevičius
© DELFI / Karolina Pansevič

Vlada Stankūnienė, the head of the Centre for Demographic Research at Vytautas Magnus University, said that the main cause of emigration was low wages.

Vilnius University professor Romas Lazutka told LRT Radijas that if the Prime Minister really believes that emigration has increased because of military conscription, he needs to have a rethink.

Stankūnienė said Lithuania's population has been decreasing for 25 years, but in 2015 depopulation rates intensified. According to preliminary data, at the beginning of January this year, 2.89 million permanent residents lived in Lithuania which is 32,700 less than a year ago.

Stankūnienė said that possibly not all of the residents went out of the country last year, some may have lived in a foreign state for some time but only notified the state in 2015 that they had left.

She said that rates of emigration intensified in March and April which could be associated with the summons to military service. However, declarations of emigration also intensified in July and August and that could be associated to people leaving for studies abroad.

“I think that the main reason for emigration was and still is an economic one. Conscription could have been an additional boost. I want to emphasize that these are only assumptions. I think that it is necessary to have accurate information, to carry out monitoring,” Stankūnienė said.

Vilnius University professor Lazutka said: “I am surprised by the view that young people leave the country to hide from the army.”

Lazutka said that those young people should be sought out, even if overseas, because he believes military service is a citizen‘s duty regardless of their declared residence.

While the prime minister argues that the country has programs for those Lithuanians who want to return to Lithuania, Stankūnienė said that the statistics show that these programs are not working as a big part of those people emigrate once again.

LRT

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