Left Behind But Doing Good? Civic Engagement in Two Post-Socialist Countries

52 Pages Posted: 16 Dec 2015

See all articles by Milena Nikolova

Milena Nikolova

IZA

Monica Roman

Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies

Klaus F. Zimmermann

Global Labor Organization (GLO); UNU-MERIT; Maastricht University, Department of Economics; Free University Berlin; University of Bonn; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); Journal of Population Economics

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Date Written: December 2015

Abstract

The fall of socialism in Central and Eastern Europe restored ordinary citizens' rights and freedoms and ended their political and social isolation. While the freedom of movement was quickly embraced, civil society revival lagged due to the eroded civic norms, declining social capital, and worsening economic conditions. In this paper, we examine the link between the out-migration of relatives and friends and the pro-social behavior of the left behinds in two post-socialist countries - Bulgaria and Romania - the EU's poorest, unhappiest, and among the most corrupt members. We show that having close contacts abroad is consistently positively associated with civic engagement and that the cultural transmission of norms from abroad could be driving the results. Specifically, the strength of the civic engagement culture of the family or friend's destination matters for the pro-social behavior of respondents in the home countries. Our results imply that the emigration of family and friends may have positive but previously undocumented consequences for the individuals and communities left behind in Bulgaria and Romania. Given civil society's role for development in post-socialist Europe and the socio-economic and institutional challenges that Bulgaria and Romania face compared with the rest of the EU, understanding the channels fostering civil society and well-being are important for national and EU policymakers.

Keywords: civic engagement, international migration, left behind, post-socialism, social remittances

JEL Classification: I30, I31, P30, Z10

Suggested Citation

Nikolova, Milena and Roman, Monica and Zimmermann, Klaus F., Left Behind But Doing Good? Civic Engagement in Two Post-Socialist Countries (December 2015). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP10990, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2704484

Monica Roman

Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies ( email )

6, Romana Square, District 1
Bucharest, 010374
Romania

Klaus F. Zimmermann

Global Labor Organization (GLO) ( email )

Bonn
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://https://glabor.org/

UNU-MERIT ( email )

Keizer Karelplein 19
Maastricht, 6211TC
Netherlands

Maastricht University, Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 616
Maastricht, 6200MD
Netherlands

University of Bonn

Postfach 2220
Bonn, D-53012
Germany

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Journal of Population Economics

Tiergartenstr. 17
D-69121 Heidelberg
Germany

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