Estimates of the Effects of Emigration on the Labour Market
Gindra Kasnauskienė
Vilnius University, Lithuania
Tomas Šiaudvytis
Vilnius University, Lithuania
Published 2019-08-16



How to Cite

Kasnauskienė, G. and Šiaudvytis, T. (trans.) (2019) “Estimates of the Effects of Emigration on the Labour Market”, Lithuanian Journal of Statistics, 49(1), pp. 12–19. doi:10.15388/LJS.2010.13942.


Migration flows have increased since the EU enlargement in 2004. In many European countries, they are sufficiently large to have significant economic effects. These effects are among the most popular topics in public debate.

In this paper, the authors attempt to quantify the effects of emigration on wages, welfare and in­come redistribution in the selected new EU member states. Emigration reduces labour supply and in­creases national wage generating income redistribu­tion from the owners of capital to the labour force. Emigration also results in welfare loss as emigrants no longer produce output in their home country. The au­thors of the article adopt a simple theoretical model of the labour market which allows quantifying these effects through the use of basic economic and demo­graphic statistics.

The research on the effects of emigration on wages uses a simple supply and demand framework, where labour demand is derived from a marginal pro­ductivity condition using the Cobb–Douglas produc­tion function. The authors also assume perfectly ine­lastic labour supply, in case of which the effect of emigration on wages is entirely determined by labour demand. Wage elasticity estimation uses the fact that the capital share parameter in the Cobb–Douglas function also measures labour demand elasticity. This property of the production function allows the au­thors to estimate the elasticity using national ac­counts data.

The estimates of labour demand (wage) elas­ticity for Lithuania range from 0.44 to 0.55, implying that due to emigration wages might have increased from 0.75 to 0.94 per cent a year, on average. In the period of 2001–2008, emigration might have resulted in a wage increase of 5.9 to 7.3 per cent. However, these estimates require caution as the beginning of the period was characterised by high unemployment. Emigration loss amounts to 0.4 per cent of GDP, and 2.8 per cent of GDP is redistributed to labour every year.

Due to the poor quality of migration data, the impact of emigration on wages, welfare and income redistribution in other countries is most likely signifi­cantly underestimated. The assumption that the share of declared emigration is similar across countries would imply that those affected by emigration the most are Slovenia, Czech Republic and Estonia.


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