YEREVAN (Arka) — According to the head of the Sociometer Polling Center Aharon Adibekyan, Armenia loses 3-4% of its population annually. The negative balance of migration in Armenia in 2015 was at 7.2% or about 220,000 people while the natural population growth rate is 2.5-3.5%, Adibekyan mentioned while speaking at a press conference.
“This is not a permanent loss, as there is the factor of labor migrants who return to their homeland. In addition, it is natural for many nations to have about 10% of their population living abroad,” Adibekyan told a news conference.
Adibekyan had conducted a survey by his polling center in 2015 that involved 3,300 households in all the regions of the country. The survey showed that 31% of the citizens are potential emigrants and about 75% of those are people between the ages of 19 to 50.
According to the findings of the survey, 19.3% said would leave for another country if they had enough financial means, 7.9% said they would like to leave but could not because of age, and 3.9% were ready to leave the country if they had interesting job offers.
The reasons behind this desire, according to Adibekyan, are low wages or no wages, difficult social conditions and lack of hope for a secure future.
Much fewer people indicated a desire to be reunited with a family abroad, to continue education abroad or hostility to the country’s leadership. Low salary as a reason to leave the country was mentioned by 33.9% of respondents, 8.1% mentioned hard social situation, 6.5% mentioned low pensions, and 4.4% problems with the payment for medical treatment.
Adibekyan also added while speaking at a press conference that about 600,000 Armenians left their country during President Levon Ter Petrosyan’s term (1991-1998), following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Nagorno-Karabakh war and a time of mass unemployment.
During President Robert Kocharyan’s term (1998-2008), some 130,000 people left for other countries and another 260,000 emigrated during the current President Serzh Sarkisian’s tenure (2008 – present).
“It turns out that about 1 million people left Armenia since its independence,” Adibekyan said. T the main reason is the socio-psychological situation. About 90% of the population migrated to Russia, while the remaining 10% to other countries.
“Russia has become a kind of a ‘black hole’ by absorbing Armenian emigrants, although some choose to return back now due to unfavorable economic situation in that country,” said Adibekyan.
In addition, about one third of Armenia’s population is ready to emigrate abroad if they had the opportunity.
Officially Armenia’s permanent population as of January 1, 2016 was less than 3 million, for the first time since 1970s, standing at 2.9 million, according to the National Statistical Service (NSS). The number had decreased by 12,000 from the previous year.