A recent article that appeared on Delfi indicated that 36.4 percent of the inhabitants of large cities in Lithuania would like to emigrate. This figure has gone up an amazing five times since April 2008 (from 6.9 percent). Another 33.4 percent state that they would emigrate if their standard of living got significantly worse. Only 28.8 percent of urban dwellers state that they are not interested in emigrating. In April 2008, this figure was 62.6 percent.
The economic crisis has obviously taken its toll, but in fact large scale emigration has been a problem for Lithuania for many years and complicates the task of making the country viable.
Another recent article also addresses this topic. In it, the chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the Lithuanian parliament states that emigration will be brought under control only when employers lose their overbearing and haughty behavior with employees. He admits that the difference in salaries of 5–8 times is the main problem but says that the creation of rules for businesses and a suitable work environment would encourage people to stay in Lithuania even if they were making a lower salary.
This article, which appeared on 7 December, has generated 135 comments. Perhaps it would be interesting to look at some of the reactions (in some cases I'll paraphrase or shorten what is written).
Perkunas—10 December: Emigration from villages will stop when it gets easier for children to settle near their elderly parents and build new houses, when the government changes the horrible Soviet laws, and when bureaucrats stealing from the poor are... I wonder if the people in government will ever understand that.
joooo—9 December: Emigration is taking place because of the unwillingness of politicians and the outright rejection of "businesspeople" to raise the minimum wage. Unfortunately, the president, wanting to remain popular with business, doesn't want to say anything. People aren't stupid. They see that some are becoming ridiculously rich and not paying workers. And they choose to leave for a more respectable place. And now the only way is to raise the minimum wage. No amount of tax reform will help matters. Our so-called businesspeople will not look after the interests of Lithuania. They're more likely to rip the rest of the country off and force the last of the workers out of the country and then start whining because no one is left to work. Then they'll start yelling that they need laborers from the East. It's happening now...
ciabuvis—8 December: The problem isn't employers; it's the government. At a corporation I worked for, about 10 government auditors came in a 2-month period. They didn't audit anything, just bargained with the managers for a bribe. It was this way: if you didn't pay the bribe, they would close up the business and not allow you to operate. And then you'd have to go to their bosses, who would demand bigger bribes. ... It seems as if the entire government works this way...
mama—8 December: Young, healthy people have been leaving Lithuania for 15 years and they will continue to leave for the next 15. So what are they going to do when they return to Lithuania when they're 50? Their children and grandchildren will already be abroad. Empty words. Lithuania WILL NO LONGER EXIST then...
q—7 December: I've had to sweep streets in America. I've also been a high-ranking manager in a Lithuanian company that was proud of the way it treated its employees. And I can say that in the States I felt more respected than I do here. If you work there, you're respected as a person.
lola—7 December: I worked as a bookkeeper in Lithuania. The boss called the bookkeepers vermin. I work as a bookkeeper in the U.S.A. The boss says "thank you" every day.