Migration, Return and Development – How Do They Match Together? Reflections from a small Developing Town in Romania
Return migration has gained increasing attention in the past years. Confronted with prolonged economic crisis in countries from the Western Europe and increasing politicization of migration, return migration may become a more sustained practice. For the localities and countries of origin, return migration may become, or is hoped to become a driver for economic, social and political development. Policy makers, national authorities and international organizations were hopeful for such development prospects due to the fact that returnees accumulated social, economic and cultural resources in more developed countries.
In this paper I aim to investigate the ways in which migration and return migration produced economic changes in a locality with intense out-migration. Different from a large number of studies describing the migration-induced changes and the diffusion of social and economic remittances as leveled processes encompassing entire communities and regions of origin, I look into the ways in which migration and return affects different social groups. For this aim, I distinguish between the effects produced by different migration temporalities and return.
I contextualize the research in a small city in Romania that received a very large level of foreign investments, a context in profound social and economic transformation, with increasing social differentiation emerging after the collapse of state socialism. I argue that the literature on migration and development shall consider migration careers and local stratification in analyzing the effects of migration and remittances on sending societies.