In the bad old days, Soviet “youth’ (roughly anyone under 45) used to lament the fact that foreign travel was not possible. If anything it was the greatest complaint among the apolitical mass of the “middle class”. But they did not think of going and not returning.
Now, young people – more sensibly defined by contemporary measures as 18-24 year olds – are tempted to emigrate to find work. Those polled by government at 31% and by private pollsters at over 40% have expressed an interest in leaving and it is unlikely that they will want to come back after living in the West.
The latest news is that the Germans are seriously considering an offer to such Russians of visa-free travel to come and work with them. 40% of German businesses are searching for qualified workers, amounting to over one million job placements. The fact that German universities can offer free tuition whereas higher education in Russia now comes at a cost makes such an offer even more tempting.
The Kremlin has quite naturally called this temptation for Soviet youth “mistaken”, but if the economy continues to drag and eventually falls into a major recession, it will be hard to hold back what could become a flood tide. Labour might well become, as was true in the past with the Mezzogiorno in Italy, a major export. The long term impact on the Russian economy of such an outflow, given falling birth rates and the likelihood that the more energetic will surely choose to go, would be serious.
Given that the U.S. Defense Department is desperate for soldiers and is looking to recruit sixteen year olds, a trip across the Mexican border could also seem tempting, particularly because military service traditionally gave those serving a priority in rights to citizenship.
Nezavisimaya gazeta, 18.07.2019 20:39:00, Ol’ga Solov’eva,