Overview of Socio-Economic Situation of the Regions analysed

Migration is one of the main characteristics of the Albanian society after ’90. Thus, this phenomenon affects all the regions in Albania. Among the regions that we focused on this research Kukes is the one with the highest rate of loosing population because of internal migration. According to 2001 Census data Kukes and Mirdite were particularly susceptible to these changes. Kukes has lost 19.69% of its population while Mirdite has lost 26.54 of its population due to internal and external migration. [1]Tirana is the region that has gained the most of population according to the internal movement of population, 41.15% of its population. People from all the regions of the country came in Tirana, mostly in the peripheral area of Paskuqan that is another area that we focused on. Paskuqan is characterized by a migrant population, a high number of which is not registered at all. This affects many other issues of this area such as children education, employment etc. While till now we speak about internal migration, international migration is the other phenomenon of post-90 Albania. Approximately 25% of the Albanian population has migrated abroad, according to Census 2001[2]. As in the case of internal migration, all the regions of the country have been affected by the international migration. The region of Vlora is one of them that have lost the most of the population due to the international migration in Italy and Greece. 26% of households in Vlora have emigrants abroad.[3] In the same time, migrants from their areas of the country moved in Vlora, thus there has been a replacement of the loss of population. Vlora is one of the less poor region of the country according to LSMS 2002 data. The characteristic of Vlora is that in the same time, it is the region with the Vlora has the highest inequalities between poor and rish people.[4] Regarding population movement, the other regions that we analyzed has not very important changes in the population number because approximately the population that migrated has been replaced by the internal movements, remote areas toward center and rural toward urban.

As we abovementioned Vlora is one of the less poor[5] regions in the country. The table below presents the situation of the regions that we analyzed regarding poverty (headcount and FGT1 (depth of poverty). As we see, the two small areas Paskuqan and Vau i Dejes are the poorest one and this still shows the gap between traditional urban areas and new urban areas. The difference between urban and rural is also shown if we would compare poverty rates of municipalities with districts (that includes also the rural area). As we notice Librazhd, Fier and Vlore are the less poor municipalities. This can be explained by the high emigration rates of these areas. As participants in the focus groups in these areas were telling, many families are depending on remittances, and this seems to be one of the main incomes for the families in these cities.

Table 1: Poverty headcount, depth of poverty, population and number of households per municipality, according to Census 2001 and LSMS 2002 data[6]


Poverty headcount



























































vau dejes





Source: Census 2001, LSMS 2002

Labour market characteristics are among the most important if we want to describe the socio economic situation of the regions analyzed. In Kukes at the end of 2006, the unemployment rate was 31.2%, which is a very high figure compared to other regions. In 2007, the figure increased even further, reaching a 32.2% unemployment rate.[7]

At present, the public budget sector has the largest number of employees and, in comparison to those employed in the private labor market, the ratio is about 5 to 1, which means 5 persons employed in the public sector and 1 in the private one. The situation of employment and unemployment is quite the same in the other areas. It must be said that there is a difference between the figures of the MoLSAEO that refers to the registered unemployed in the labour offices, and the figures of 2001 Census or LSMS basing on the survey. These former give higher figures. Nevertheless, there is another important figure difficult to be shown by figures, that is the size of the informal labour market. The high participation rate in  the informal labour market was one of the main issues present during the focus groups discussions.

Regarding the socio economic situation of their respective regions, if we refer now to the panorama given by the participants in the focus groups, the high level of poverty, problems with electricity and water provision and the bad infrastructure  were among the most acute problems.  During focus group discussions it was stated that because of the internal movements of population the situation regarding average education level was not so stable as before, and now was tending toward lower education level. Regarding this issue it must e said that there are two types of migrants, the educated one that go toward centers such as Tirana [8] for better opportunities of education, and the others that search for better living conditions and employment and generally go from rural and remote areas toward urban areas. The level of these former is the same or lower than the receiving population. Another aspect that effects the level of education among migrants is the process of being registered in the Civil registry offices (ZYRAT E GJENDJES CIVILE). Many migrants do not register at all and as a consequence, their children cannot go to school. [9] 

The impression of participants in focus groups is that women coming in towns from rural areas had in general only eight years of school. It was noticed that when it was to speak about migrants, it was always in a pejorative way, as the ones of spoiling the labor market, of decreasing the cultural level, of decreasing the average education level of cities, of being causes of higher delinquency etc, and this was highlighted more in Librazhd, Elbasan and Tirana as these are among regions who receive migrants.  In other regions such as Kukes that is the region that has lost the most of population by migration, the tendency is that the population is becoming old, and the opportunities are decreasing because there are not so much investments.

As it was highlighted above, almost in all the regions observed, remittances were considered as the main source of incomes, In some of them, they are still considered like this, but in a slight decline. After the first years of high emigration and high remittances, the situation is changing. Emigrants, mostly young people have now created families in the country of residence and they are having other obligations. Thus, the amount of money that they send in Albania is lower than before as it was stated more by participants in Fier, Pogradec, Librazhd and Elbasan. What is more important to be highlighted is that remittances in some cases are considered as one factor of women withdrawal from the labour market. Because young married women with migrant husbands stay at home and care for the family while their husbands work abroad and send money to their families. This was most highlighted by local experts during the meetings.

As it was presented above Kukes and Rreshen have very high poverty and unemployment rates, and a very high rate of migration abroad and to other regions of Albania. The picture offered by the statistical information is also illustrated by the perception of participants in the focus groups. For them,  there were really few possibilities of new jobs, especially in Rreshen, Kukes, Vau i Dejes.

The existing industrial sector of before 90 is now completely ruined, and the sectors of services and agriculture are extremely limited. While, in the other cities the most of problems were relating to informal labor market. This was the case of Shkodra, Vlora, Fier and Tirana. In Vlora and Fier, as touristic cities, there is the possibility of tourism development, but participants say that till now this development has been very chaotic and it remains a non- protected sector.  Also, women participants in the focus groups in Vlora were saying that there is a discrimination of age and status because young unmarried women are preferred by employers, because of less engagements toward houseworks and children.

Paskuqan  is perceived as the informal area “par excellence” not only regarding labor market but also land issues, unregistered people in the Civil Offices, unregistered children that as a result of this do not go to school, etc. There are very few possibilities of employment in this area that is expecting to become a municipality. Most of men are employed in the informal labour market mostly in the construction sector.

The bad economic situation was one of the reasons why many participants would prefer to migrate, but the destination places were Tirana (inside the country) and United States, as the most promising ones. The opportunity of migration was more highlighted by men then women. Women would prefer to stay in the city of origin but have some more opportunities of work. During the discussions in some of the regions all women said having their husbands abroad, mostly in Greece, and this was the only source of income.

Always speaking about the labor market issues, the most important question, common to all the regions, is the informal labor market. The size and importance of it differs from region to region, but it is mostly highlighted in Vlora, Fier and Tirana where the private sector is more developed.

[1] INSTAT, Population in Albania 2001, Tirana

[2] ibid

[3] UNDP & OXFAM, Vlora regjional development strategy, Tirana 2005

[4] World Bank, Albania Poverty Assessment, June 2003,

[5]  Here we refer to the full poverty line, estimated with allowances for basic nonfood items, is estimated to be 4,891 Leks per capita per month. The poverty measurement according to LSMS 2002 is based consumptions and noton incomes, as incomes are not very regular. According to these measurements one-quarter of the Albanian population, or close to 780,000 individuals, fall below the poverty line in 2002.

[6] Danaj E., Papps I. Policy Impact Analysis: Distribution of Economic Assistance Block Grants, MoLSA and MoF (Department of NSSED), 2005

[7] INSTAT website, www.instat.gov.al

[8] Ekonomi M, E.Danaj, E.Gjermeni, “Gender Perspectives in Albania”, INSAT, 2004, Tirana

[9] World Bank, Albania Poverty Assessment, June 2003

Supported by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) under the auspices of its sub-regional Programme “Gender-Responsive Budgeting in South East Europe: Advancing Gender Equality and Democratic Governance through Increased Transparency and Accountability” . The Programme is implemented with funding from the Austrian Development Cooperation and Cooperation with Eastern Europe, and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.
The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of UNIFEM, the United Nations or any of its affiliated organizations.

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