Re-Turn generally aims at pushing the topic of return migration on the political agenda, providing an account of the extent of return migration, competences and needs of returning migrants as well as concrete measures to promote remigration as a source to foster knowledge development.



Re-Turn’s partner regions are hit by processes of brain drain losing young and well educated parts of population. So far, these regions do not use returning migrants to promote regional economic development. Re-Turn will identify, advance and implement measures to capitalize on returning migrants and thus enhance human capital and remigrants' entrepreneurial abilities in participating regions. Attracting and supporting returning migrants improves the regional knowledge base and intercultural competence of innovative actors in an increasingly internationally networked world.

Decision makers dealing with transnational migration issues will network in Re-Turn project to exchange experience and develop and implement new transnational solutions to problems of brain drain. They will be adviced from a high-level think tank of cutting edge research organizations’ representatives. To achieve programme objectives, Re-Turn partners will develop and implement joint strategies and action plans for improved services to promote return migration as a source for regional knowledge development. To facilitate implementation, networking of regional labour market organizations representatives will be organized during the project providing for continuation after project end.

In concrete, Re-Turn will develop, share, test and implement new support policies, tools and services in participating regions to promote return migration to the benefit of regional knowledge development in a sustainable way. The actions implemented by Re-Turn partners are suited to attract educated emigrants back to their home region and thus compensating for losses of human capital in earlier periods. Re-Turn actions will allow for better matching of regional business needs and human capital offered through return migration. Particular competences of returning migrants – such as intercultural competence, improved flexibility, language competence – will then be capitalized to the benefit of regional economic development. The project thereby involves training for returning migrants becoming entrepreneurs using their new skills.

Project partners offering these new services will work together transnationally to develop, implement and advance particular tools for entrepreneurial development.


Comparative Report on Return Migration in Central Europe

Although return migration is of high importance in Central Europe, no comparative report on the region as a whole had been written so far. To provide better understanding of the existing situation of return migration in Central Europe and especially in the seven Project Partner Countries: AT, DE, CZ, IT, HU, PL, SI of the Re-Turn Project, similarities and differences between involved states and regions as well as the unexploited potentials of returnees to foster knowledge development has been analysed.

Skilled return migrants can stimulate knowledge-based development in the origin-country but this is dependent on institutional and regional factors as well as context conditions. Returnees have to prepare for their return by mobilizing resources (human capital, financial capital and social capital). Further, they need time. Migrants have to stay in the destination country sufficiently long to allow accumulating knowledge and absorbing certain experiences and values. Here, especially the membership in various networks is important to link return migrants’ capital with local resources. Also existing traditional power relations and local values shape return outcomes and may impact on the behaviour of returnees.

Based on the reviewed literature and own descriptive analysis of LFS-Data 2005-2008, we come to the following main results:

  • Return migration is not a marginal phenomenon in Central Europe.
    According to international data provided by Eurostat for 2009, the share of nationals among immigrants was 75% for Poland (data refer to 2008), 29% for the Czech Republic, 23% for Germany, 13% for Austria, 10% for Slovenia and 8% for Hungary, Italy and the Slovak Republic.
  • Central European returnees tend to be younger compared to non-migrants and migrants staying abroad.
    When returning, re-migrants are “young enough” to use their human capital to foster knowledge-based development in the origin country.
  • Central European returnees are positively selected in terms of education.
    This means that returnees possess the potential to adding to know-how diffusion and the catching-up of the economy of the origin-country.
  • CE migrants cultivate connections with their home country when they are abroad.
    CE migrants are linked with members of their origin society. This may facilitate the re-integration process upon return.
  • CE returnees have a higher probability not to actively participate on the local labour market.
    Although returnees possess valuable human capital resources, they show a comparatively high tendency not to enter the local labour markets. Whether this is because returnees lack important social ties and networks in the origin country or because returnees can just afford to search longer for a job due to savings from higher earnings or because foreign work experience is a signal of being unsuccessful on local labour markets for employers, remains unclear.
  • Research provides mixed evidence with respect to :
    • the income pay-offs upon return
      Martin/Radu (2011) show for PL and HU, that returnees receive significant income premia both from self-employment and dependent employment.
      On the other hand, Co et al. (2000) find that there is no wage premium for male returnees in Hungary. But female returnees earn a 67% premium over female stayers.
    • better career opportunities upon return
      Vavrečkova (2009) found that after returning home to Poland most of the returnees (tertiary-educated) managed to make use of the experiences they gained abroad. On the contrary, research by Grabowska-Lusinska (2010) shows that only 8% of Polish returnees could enhance their career after return, but the majority of the respondents state that either nothing has changed in terms of their career path or that the experience of migration has even enhanced the fragmentation of their career.
    • self-employment activities among returnees.
      Martin/Radu (2011) found for Hungary and Poland that returnees are more likely to be self-employed than non-migrants. Different evidence is obtained by Klagge/Klein-Hitpas (2007) for Poland who report that highly-skilled returnees are mainly employees, but less-skilled returnees are more likely to start their own business.

Whether and to what extent returning migrants can help boosting regional development is to large extent dependent on the situation of the economy and the labour market they re-enter.

Data from the 7 case study reports indicate that the regions are predominantly characterised by traditional economy and an oversupply on the labour market with little chances of increased demand in the near future. This offers only limited employment perspectives for returning migrants even though their skills and their experiences and probably also their formal education and vocational training will be higher than average giving them a competitive advantage. A factor in their favour though is the aging of most of the regions, which should generally shorten the current excess labour supply.

Based on key findings from the report, the following main policy implications for the Central European region can be formulated:

  1. Attract high-skilled return migration.
    High-skilled return migration has the potential to positively impact on development in Central European Countries through the exchange of professional knowledge on methods, techniques and standards.
  2. Remove obstacles to return.
    The intention of migrants to return to their home countries is largely influenced by institutional and context factors in the origin as well as in the destination country
  3. Create framework conditions that help returnees to realize their potential.
    Origin countries should deal with the topic of the recognition of qualifications acquired abroad; promote brain circulation and engage high-skilled nationals in diasporas, through virtual or temporary return.
  4. Formulate a regional development strategy based on a wider and better skills basis.
    The best chances and also the most effective use to be made of returning migrants lies with a pro-active regional development strategy supporting company-settlement, self-employment and regional restructuring based on higher and international skill levels.

Migrant Survey Report Comparative Report on Re-Migration


Migrant Survey Report

During a period of eight months between December 2011 and August 2012 over 3,000 participants answered the survey. After data cleansing almost 2,000 cases remained in the sample, providing valid information for the main variables. Although the sampling population shows big differences in the number of participants concerning their nationality and has a well above average educational background, important information regarding the motives, prerequisites and labour market performance was provided.

The results of the Re-Turn survey are, among others, that the return of emigrants results out of differing qualifications, experiences in the host country and motives of staying, or respectively leaving. The survey also shows that most of the emigrants return successfully and consider the return easy. Another exemplary conclusion is that return is less driven by economic reasons than private and social motives.

The report below provides an insight into current research on return migration, especially in Central Europe, and presents findings of the empirical study conducted within the project Re-Turn.

Chapter 2 provides an overview of theoretical approaches, different typologies of returnees and empirical observations of previous studies providing the basis for the Re-turn online survey. Based on the literature review some working hypotheses will be derived.

In chapter 3, an explanation of the applied methodology will be given, outlining sampling strategies and sampling outcomes as well as the application of the online survey as interview tool. As quantitative surveys present findings using aggregate and abstract data, we decided to insert a set of individual life stories of return migrants in chapter 4. These life stories should illustrate in which circumstances migrants operate in the European Union. Upon invitation during field work in the pilot regions, these stories were sent to the Re-Turn team from remigrants who we have met during the project.

Chapter 5 then leads back to the survey data. It provides a global analysis of the preceding theoretical and empirical references and findings of the online survey deducing implications for the innovation potential of CEE migrants for their home regions. A thorough insight in the secrets of remigration is crucial for the understanding of the influence of regional contexts and an improvement of the reintegration conditions for those willing to return. With reference to such findings, the creation of better framework conditions to retain human capital would be facilitated and could lead to the reversal of brain drain through return migration, being an important factor of regional economic development (Matuschewski 2010). The report finishes with a conclusion in chapter 6. For the interested reader the annex contains a set of country reports in which the survey results are differentiated by the national contexts.

Migrant Survey Report Migrant Survey Report

Business Survey Report

This report aims at highlighting the perspectives of the regional employers in the home countries on topics such as brain drain, labour shortages and human resource (HR) strategies. We have conducted interviews with managers, business owners, representatives of business associations, HR managers in the following 8 case study regions: Usti (CZ); Görlitz (DE); Harz (DE); Mid-Pannon (HU); Piedmont (IT); Lodz (PL); Swietokrzyskie (PL); Podravska (SI). These regions share the fact that they were subject to massive emigration and that their labour markets show structural problems (below average wage levels; long-term and sectoral unemployment combined with labour shortages). In particular, we were interested in the employers’ experience with and attitudes towards return migrants as a potential labour force in these regions. The interviewees were selected according to economic sector and company size, and we looked for heterogeneity in these criteria.

With this report we shed light on the businesses’ perspective towards the connection between return migrants and employers to answer the following questions:

  • What challenges and opportunities do businesses face in these regions?
  • In what ways do businesses expect problems to hire qualified staff in the near future?
  • Are businesses aware of major (public) regional strategies to secure the supply of skilled labour?
  • How do these businesses secure the availability of qualified personnel? What formal and informal strategies exist for the attraction of qualified personnel? Is there any cooperation with other businesses or organizations?
  • What strategies exist for the retention of qualified personnel?
  • What positions are currently vacant in these businesses?
  • Are return migrants a specific target group for attraction strategies? Are they already employed by the businesses?
  • If so, what makes return migrants specific for the businesses?
  • Do these businesses help return migrants with their return and reintegration?

Business Survey Report Business Survey Report

International comparative working paper on barriers

The International comparative working paper on barriers for successful capitalization of returning migrants has been conducted by IOM International Organization for Migration in Prague.
The paper summarizes the activities and outputs of the research phase of the Re-Turn project, to give useful recommendations for the realization of the different pilot actions. In particular, the outcomes of the paper are focused on the identification of barriers and the needs for policy intervention.
In summary it helps to answer these crucial questions:

  • What problems do returnees face?
  • What barriers make return migration difficult?
  • What can we learn for the project’s WP4 activities (development of tools, methods and service concepts for supporting capitalization on return migration) and for policy measures in general?
  • How can we help return migrants and businesses in home regions?

Business Survey Report International Comparative Working Paper on Barriers

Re-Turn toolkit

To reach the development and implementation of services to support re-migrants as a main target group, the project partners of the Re-Turn project defined three main areas of intervention (Re-Attract, Re-Integrate, Re-Employ).
Consequently three specific Task Forces were established and developed the Toolkit of instruments, with all common transnational instruments contributing to the implementation of pilot
actions planed specifically for every project region.
The Toolkit was developed basically on information from different studies and statistics showing a strong willingness of people to move back to their home countries or region on one hand and on the other to overcome a lack of sufficient supporting instruments. This lack influences the whole process of re-migration, creating additional barriers for potential re-migrants. Thus, tailored tools and services are necessary to reduce those obstacles and enhance the re-integration of migrants.
The following list gives an overview of the identified tools:

  • Ambassadors
  • Hotline – Contact Point for Re-Migrants
  • Website – Portal to the Region
  • Postcard – A Reminder from Home
  • Photo Calendar – Impressions from Home
  • Job Portal
  • Company Consultation and Services
  • Commuter’s Day
  • Further qualification and Entrepreneurship training
  • Entrepreneurship Training and Mentoring

In the Toolkit all tools are described indicating their scope, the methodology to use to realize them, critical factors and recommendations.

Business Survey Report Re-Turn Toolkit

Synthesis Report on Supply of remigrants and demand of businesses

The Synthesis Report on Supply of remigrants and demand of businesses brings together results from different activities that were carried out in the analytical part of the Re-Turn project.
As information on the phenomenon of return migration is not available from census data or public registries, an online survey was conducted among emigrants and returned migrants from Central European countries. The survey results were then mirrored in a series of workshops with returned migrants in the Re-Turn case study regions.
The overall aim of the Re-Turn project is to provide original knowledge to ‘home regions’ about efficient ways of capitalizing on return migration. Therefore, also a look on the local labour demand was necessary. Methodologically, we gathered information through expert interviews with representatives of local businesses as well as business intermediaries (e.g. labour office representatives, chambers of trade and commerce, business associations etc.). Additionally, a set of feedback workshops was organized in the Re-Turn case study regions, during which other business representatives commented and discussed the former interview results.
A final conclusion discusses the findings and derives some recommendations for the further pilot activities in the Re-Turn project.

Business Survey Report Synthesis Report on Supply of remigrants and demand of businesses

Service Evaluation Report

The aim of the Service Evaluation Report (Evaluating Reintegration Services for Returnees in Central Europe: Evidence from Case-studies) is to evaluate the different reintegration services, which were developed in the scope of the Re-Turn project and tested between September 2012 and December 2013 in eight different case study regions (Usti Region, CZ; Görlitz Region, DE; Harz Region, DE; Mid Pannon Region, HU; Piedmont Region, IT; Lodz Region, PL; Swietokrzyskie Region, PL; Podravska Region, SI) in Central Europe.
The evaluation analysis clearly showed that the Re-Turn reintegration services (the hotline, website, one-stop-shop and training courses) have the potential to meet the needs of returning migrants and contribute to a successful return.

Business Survey Report Service Evaluation Report

Sustainability Report

The aim of the “Sustainability Report: Options for continual running of the Re-Turn services in Central Europe” is to present sustainability strategies of the Re-Turn project partners which aim to ensure the continual running of positively evaluated Re-Turn services even after the project’s end.
As pilot services in the Re-Turn project differ a lot, there is no “one size fits all approach” in terms of sustainability. Rather, project partners developed their own sustainability strategy most appropriate for their region.
Based on the results of the pilot testing period, project partners determined which services they would like to sustain, built regional collaboration networks, identified resources necessary to sustain pilot actions and reflected upon important action steps needed to ensure the long-term success after the Re-Turn project’s end.

Sustainability Report Sustainability Report

Handbook with Transnational joint planning and management tools

The “Handbook with Transnational joint planning and management tools” is a resource that details a range of transferable management tools that promote return migrants as a valuable source who can foster knowledge development in home regions.

The Handbook contains the lessons learnt from service concept implementation in the Re-Turn project, cov­ering the whole scope of regional interventions. In this Handbook the pilot projects are fully described in terms of policies and strategies, intermediaries and networks, objectives and partners, the piloting pro­cess, lessons learnt, guidelines.

The Handbook also explains about how to adapt existing services as well as implementing new ones in the 3 following areas of intervention:

  1. Tools to re-attract former emigrants to the region (incl. marketing): emigrants as ambassadors of the home region/connecting internet platform; telephone Hotlines; marketing at international airports and train stations; creating a returning jobseekers website/online social re-migration platform;
  2. One-Stop-Shops to re-integrate migrants for the benefit of the regional economy: welcome agencies; Testing integration office assisting re-migrants to re-migrate and to find a job;
  3. Assisting returning migrants in becoming innovative entrepreneurs: Entrepreneurial Training Contact Point; training sessions to help returning migrants to develop their entrepreneurial spirit.

Handbook with Transnational joint planning and management tools Handbook with Transnational joint planning and management tools

Transnational Strategy for re-attracting and re-integrating migrants

The purpose of the Transnational Strategy is to detail the main issues in considering re-attracting and re-integrating migrants who return to their home countries after having lived and worked abroad. The purpose therefore, is to harness their acquired foreign work experiences and skills for the benefit of their home region which, in turn, can potentially have the effect of fostering economic development and increasing competitiveness within the same. This Strategy is aimed at key policy makers who are specialists in economic development, senior officers and managers in regional local authorities, labour market organizations, other appropriate intermediaries and relevant business organizations, as well as migrant groups.

Transnational Strategy Transnational Strategy