Since it became independent in 1989, Moldova’s population has dropped by about one quarter, due mostly to mass emigration, according to a report by Randy McDonald on demography.matters.blog. Why might this concern anyone outside Moldova?
Moldovan emigration is important on its own terms, not only for the effects of this massive emigration on Moldova but for the effect that it has on receiving countries. Moldova represents a sure pool of potential migrants for central European countries suffering population decline; already, something like one percent of the population of Romanian citizens are Moldovans. Moldova also should be studied as a prototype for rapid population decline in peripheral states; the Moldovan example has been echoed in the independent South Caucasus, arguably also in an East Germany where the population has shrunk by a quarter since reunification. Moldova’s example demonstrates that, when economic conditions become sufficiently bad and/or when the benefits accuring to emigrants become sufficiently great, regional and national populations can contract at speeds more reminiscent of wartime depopulation than anything else. Where Moldova goes now, perhaps any number of relatively small and relatively impoverished states (Serbia, Paraguay, Cuba, Laos, Lesotho) in the future, perhaps–who knows?–even much larger countries.