Where Have All the Youngsters Gone? The Background and Consequences of Young Adults’ Outmigration from Hungarian Small Towns

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Abstract

Due to the general demographic situation in Hungary and the recent overall crisis of this traditional settlement-type, Hungarian small towns have been facing an intensive shrinking since the last decade. Although natural decrease and migration loss are almost equal factors of population decline, outmigration seems to be a more strategic, critical problem for these settlements. There are hardly any reliable data available about the migrants leaving small towns, but some of them seem to support the wellknown assumption that the young people, who leave these towns are looking for wider horizons and better perspectives. The aim of the present paper is to analyse the outmigration of young adults from small towns, and give estimation about the international aspects of migration, which is hardly ever published in official statistics. The paper also aims at revealing the impact of the intensive migration on the local labour market. A short statistical analysis based on census data and two empirical surveys conducted by the authors are also included. One was carried out with the support of volunteer contributors, former small-town students, who tried to reconstruct the post-secondary school migration of their former classmates. The other survey contains a series of interviews focusing on the consequences of the young adults’ migration on the labour market. The results facilitate the estimation regarding the (weak) capability of small towns to keep their young population, and highlight the problems of local developmental options within the context of demographic shrinkage.

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