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Shalva Kereselidze: “Hundreds of thousands of young people leave Georgia every year.”

Verdict: FactCheck concludes that Shalva Kereselidze’s statement is a MANIPULATION.

Resume:

Speaking on emigration figures, it would be more relevant to take a look at net migration (the difference between emigrants and immigrants) to see the real picture. Since the 1990s, more people leave the country every year as compared to those who enter or return. In 2012-2021, a total of 73,610 more people left the country as compared to those who arrived. Since 2012 (after an accurate identification of emigrants and immigrants became possible), the highest net migration was registered in 2021 when 25,966 more people left the country as compared to those who entered.

FactCheck approves the context of the MP’s statement and believes that emigration is indeed one of the biggest challenges facing Georgia. However, highlighting the figure of emigrants alone and overlooking the number of immigrants is misleading and shows the already difficult situation to be even worse. Therefore, the verdict for Shalva Kereselidze’s statement is a MANIPULATION.

Analysis

At the plenary session of the Parliament of Georgia, For Georgia party member, Shalva Kereselidze, stated: “In the last 20-30 years, 1.5 million people left Georgia. Hundreds of thousands of young people leave Georgia every year.”

Firstly, it should be clarified that a person is considered to be an emigrant if he left Georgia in the last 12 months, stayed in another country for at least 183 days and his permanent place of residence prior to leaving the country was Georgia; that is, he spent at least 183 days in Georgia in the previous 12 months. A person is considered to be an immigrant if he spent at least 183 days in Georgia after crossing the border and prior to crossing the border and Georgia was not a place of his permanent residence. Both emigrants and immigrants could be nationals of Georgia or a foreign country.

Emigration is indeed one of the biggest challenges for the country. However, when speaking about migration figures, it would be relevant to take a look at net migration which is the difference between emigrants and immigrants. Highlighting the number of emigrants alone is manipulative and shows the existing problem to be even more acute than it actually is.

Given the lack of a relevant system prior to 2012, it was impossible to have an accurate registration of migration flows and figures before that period are largely assessment data. Since 2012, a new methodology has been introduced and it became possible to identify immigrants and emigrants. In 2012-2021, the total net migration was -73,610 which means that 73,610 more people left the country as compared to those who entered or/and came back. According to the National Statistics Office of Georgia (which is assessment data), the difference between emigrants and immigrants is more than -1.292 million in 1994-2022. Of note is that the 1990s account for the bulk of this difference.

Since the 1990s, net migration in Georgia has always been negative as more people leave the country every year as compared to those who come. The only exception in this regard was 2020 when the net migration was positive which was precipitated by the pandemic and the shutting down of the borders. In 2021 when the borders of foreign countries were opened again, emigration increased sharply whilst the number of immigrants (those who came to Georgia) declined. In the last years, 25,966 more people left the country as compared to those who entered. Since 2012 after an accurate identification of emigrants and immigrants became possible, the highest net migration was registered in 2021 (see Graph 1).

Graph 1: Migration Figures in 2012-2021

Source: National Statistics Office of Georgia

It is true that since the 1990s, migration has been one of the biggest challenges for Georgia and every year more people leave the country as compared to those who enter. However, putting emphasis on emigration figures alone and overlooking the number of those who entered/came back to the country distorts the real picture and is manipulative. At the same time, the MP pays particular attention to the total number of people who emigrated in the last 20-30 years which is close to the assessment data of the National Statistics Office of Georgia. However, it is not discernible in his statement that vast majority of those people emigrated in the 1990s.


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28%
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18%
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10%
Manipulation
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7%

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