Return of Labour Migrants to Serbia: Realistic Expectations or Wishful Thinking?




return migrations, guest worker (Gastarbeiter), classification of returnees, transnational activity, north-eastern Serbia, Vienna


Serbia has traditionally been a country with a high emigration rate. Numerous administrative obstacles and slow economic reforms have discouraged migrants from returning and making business investments. Over the last few years there has been a noticeable effort to provide concrete assistance, introduce benefits and reliefs and stimulate return migrations, particularly of entrepreneurs and highly educated persons, by means of different strategies, legal acts, and the establishment of government agencies and non-governmental organizations.

Our decade-long research on migrations has primarily focused on the so-called Gastarbeiter, as well as their descendants. We have conducted research on migrants from North-eastern Serbia, which is one of the biggest emigration zones in the country, and field research was also conducted in Vienna, the city with the most numerous Serbian diaspora in Europe, a specific population which, due to the geographic proximity between Serbia and Austria, often engages in cross-border movement and is transnationally active. As regards the studied population, return migrations to Serbia and economic investment in the country’s development are unlikely and certainly insufficient. In this paper, we will look at the classification of returnees as at their motives for a possible return, but also at the numerous reasons for staying in the host country.


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How to Cite

Antonijević, Dragana, and Miloš Rašić. 2022. “Return of Labour Migrants to Serbia: Realistic Expectations or Wishful Thinking?”. Etnoantropološki Problemi / Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 17 (4):1239–1264.

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