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60 percent of youth wants to leave, study shows

TIRANA, March 6 – The ‘Friedrich Ebert’ Foundation launched its 2018/2019 study on Albanian youth on Wednesday, based on a national survey that interviewed 1,200 youths aged 14-29 to bring interesting findings in fields such as education, employment, migration and the ever-pressing question of why Albanian youth wants to leave the country.

According to this year’s study, based on fields such as leisure and lifestyle, family and friends, mobility, education, employment, politics and some confidential questions, even after thirty years of transition, family and society remain stable tools of emotional and economic support for Albanian youths.

However, the notion that youth are looking to reunite with some family members in their desire to move abroad is a misconception according to the study’s authors.

Actually, the study shows Albanian youth mainly wants to leave the country for a better living standard – not only in terms of education, but in terms of their general well-being and the quality of services they can receive as citizens of a EU country.

Some of the most striking results of the study show that 40 percent of Albanian youth wants to leave Albania for a better living standard – especially in Germany. 40 percent would like to work in the public sector and 44 percent in the private sector. Only 22 percent of Albanian youth have been doing voluntary work in the past year. 80 percent consider the country’s fight against corruption essential. 68 percent of youth would participate in the future elections, while 92 percent are in favor of EU membership – 32 percent think this will happen within ten years.  

However, concerning EU integration, Albanian Institute for International Studies researcher Alba Cela also noted the majority of Albanian youth thinks EU integration will happen soon – a disillusionment coming from the fact they are not properly informed of EU integration processes.

The most popular destination among youth remains, as in previous years, Germany. Following comes the UK and France, while previous options such as Italy and Greece have completely left the race.  

According to Cela, when youth answered the question of how they see their personal future in ten years, they appeared optimistic, while when it comes to Albania’s future they don’t express the same optimism.

This, according to the study, shows youth is willing to change their personal lives, but not the society they live in and this can be another answer to the question of why Albanian youth wants to leave.

“It is interesting that the Albanian young people who want to migrate are prepare to be model citizens, learn the language and excel at their work in their host country. There is a lot of potential at this motivation which is not being used for Albania and its own development,” Cela said.

Among three groups, the smallest part of youth doesn’t want to leave the country, while some have an average, not entirely specified desire to leave. Meanwhile, 43 percent of Albanian youth are very decided to leave.

Moreover, those who want to leave believe it will happen within two years and that they will never return.Only a small part of youth considers emigration as a transitory phase, or as something impermanent and most want to leave for good.

It was noted that only one third of the youth regularly spends time reading books and 19 percent only does it occasionally, while the other half of those surveyed said they either read very rarely (28 percent) or not at all (22 percent).

Gender separation is also still very visible among Albanian youth, with as much as 28 percent of girls never or very rarely going out with their friends, as opposed to the five percent of males who don’t. In line with this is the considerably smaller percentage of youths from rural areas going out, while also being affected by the youth’s economic situation.

An interesting part of the study involved the findings of the confidential questions, where one third of youth, the majority over 25, said they are cigarette smokers, while almost no one accepted they might smoke marijuana.

Moreover, half of the Albanian youth is sexually active, but only 30 percent of them regularly uses protection. Similarly, approximately half of youth shares considerable nationalistic feelings and fixed ideas on what the “real Albanian identity” is and to what foreigners should adjust to.

During the presentation, it was highlighted by researchers these nationalistic sentiments should be addressed to further identify whether they could turn to something that could facilitate conflictual or violent sentiments or are simply a version of patriotism influenced by factors such as media, education and widely shared stereotypes.

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