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Czechoslovakia: Emigration
Country Study > Chapter 2 > The Society and Its Environment > Demography > Emigration

EMIGRATION


Historically, emigration has always been an option for Czechs and Slovaks dissatisfied with the situation at home. Each wave of emigration had its own impetus. In the nineteenth century, the reasons were primarily economic. In the twentieth century, emigration has largely been prompted by political turmoil, though economic factors still play a role. The first major wave of emigration in this century came after the communists came to power, and the next wave began after the Prague Spring movement was crushed.

In the 1980s the most popular way to emigrate to the West was to travel to Yugoslavia by automobile and, once there, take a detour to Greece, Austria, or Italy (Yugoslav border restrictions were not as strict as those of the Warsaw Pact nations). Only a small percentage of those who applied to emigrate legally could do so. The exact details of the process have never been published, but a reasonably clear picture can be gleaned from those who have succeeded. It is a lengthy and costly process. Those applicants allowed to even consider emigration have been required to repay the state for their education, depending on their level of education and salary, at a rate ranging from Kcs4,000 to Kcs10,000. (The average yearly wage was about Kcs33,600 in 1984.) The applicant was likely to lose his job and be socially ostracized. Technically, at least, such emigres would be allowed to return for visits. Those who had been politically active, such as Charter 77 signatories found it somewhat easier to emigrate, but they have not been allowed to return and reportedly have had to pay the state exhorbitant fees -- Kcs23,000 to as much as Kcs80,000 -- if they had graduated from a university

Old-age pensioners had no problem visiting or emigrating to the West. The reasons for this were purely economic; if they decided to stay in the West, the state no longer had to pay their pension.

Official statistics for the early 1980s show that, on the average, 3,500 people emigrated legally each year. From 1965 to 1983, a total of 33,000 people emigrated legally. This figure undoubtedly included a large number of ethnic Germans resettled in East Germany. The largest emigre communities are located in Austria, West Germany, the United States, Canada, and Australia.

Data as of August 1987




Last Updated: August 1987


Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Czechoslovakia was first published in 1987. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on Factba.se.

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