The website for critical discussion about migration in Central and Eastern Europe.
24. 5. 04
Dusan Drbohlav, Dita Cermakova

Current trends in migration in the Czech Republic (regional aspects)

Like other Central and Eastern European countries (CEEc), the Czech Republic has been going through a process of transition/transformation of its society while building a new, developed, democratic, pluralistic and parliamentary society based on a free-market economy. This process has been and, further, is to be cemented by inclusion of CEEc in various Western political, economic and military structures, particularly the European Union (EU). The transformation processes are typical of the dramatic changes that have affected all spheres of society—macro as well as micro factors have been and will be involved. Apparently, massive international migration is one of the new phenomena related to the new political and economic organization/structure—not only in the Czech Republic itself but also in other CEEc in transition. The combination of such factors as relative political stability, “relative economic prosperity” (in terms of maintaining reasonable living standards), a given geographical position (bordering on the classical Western World which has no history of a communist era), and the strict migration policies of the western developed democracies, as well as rather liberal legislation and liberal practices towards immigrants in CEE countries (at least during many years of the 1990s) has led to the creation of a migratory “buffer zone” between the West and the East (see also Wallace-Chmuliar-Sidorenko 1995). This migratory “buffer zone” is composed of Czechia, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary—countries which, despite some important differences also share many similar migratory patterns. The compact buffer zone creates conditions for intensive transitory movements, East-West cross-border movements as well as massive labour circular (temporary) migration within the region. Migratory trends in these buffer zone countries might, in addition to experiencing huge inflows of labour circular migrants, be characterized in the following way: 1) hosting of a diversity of types of migrants (including many illegal/undocumented ones); 2) experiencing a growing inflow of asylum seekers and refugees and a minimal outflow of domestic citizens abroad as asylum seekers and refugees; 3) having a stable or a declining number of permanent “own” emigrants; 4) hosting a huge transit migrant population; 5) and attracting a particularly large flow of immigrants to the capital cities (see Drbohlav, forthcoming).

Despite some important research activities that tackled the international migration issue and originated in the Czech Republic during the 1990s, much more intensive and systematic interest comes as late as the end of the 1990s (see e. g. overview in Drbohlav 2001). The main task of this paper is to briefly describe and partly explain spatial patterns of the current immigrants´ behaviour (“economic” ones and those coming under a family reunion umbrella) in the Czech Republic. While doing this, special attention will be paid to the migratory situation in a border zone vis-a-vis the interior. Three distinctive spatial patterns will be shown as examples for three different ethnic immigrant communities—Ukrainians, Vietnamese and Germans. “Spatial positions” of selected ethnic immigrant communities will be put against the Czech majority population via segregation index. A multiple regression model contributed to explaining the conditionality of the given spatial patterns.
This paper was presented at a workshop “Transfrontier Migration in the CEE Countries: Problems and Experience in Regulation”, December 12-15, 2002, Budapest.
24. 5. 04
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