Provozně ekonomická fakulta ČZU v Praze
Faculty of Economics and Management, CULS Prague
Causes and impacts of labour migration in Uzbekistan
Author: Andrea Štolfová
ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0832-1485
Page Range: 23-45
No. of Pages: 23
Keywords: Migration; Inhabitants of Uzbekistan; Russia; Kazakhstan; family; Traditional values; Rural life
This paper focuses on work migration among Uzbek inhabitants, for whom migration is the only possible solution to their unsatisfactory economic situation. The mobility of labour affects not only migrants but also their families and the whole society in which they live. The study is complemented by the testimonies of local people obtained from original field work research conducted in Uzbekistan in 2012.
Celý příspěvek / Full Text Paper: Příčiny a dopady pracovní migrace v Uzbekistánu
Česká verze: HTML
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the centralized system, planned economy and full employment targeting collapsed. This necessitated substantial changes in the newly formed states, primarily related to the transition to a market economy and the reduction of jobs in predominantly rural areas. A few years after the break-up, a supportive state social policy tried to save the situation, but it soon ran out of resources. The year 2000 was a turning point. Economic growth, first in Russia, then in Kazakhstan, attracts a migratory stream that fills the available labour market in those places that are not attractive to the local population. Therefore, even from Uzbekistan, formerly known as a settled state, locals are beginning to leave for job opportunities abroad. This migration has affected virtually all segments of the population in all ages, genders, professions and social groups.
The aim of this study is to describe the causes that force the Uzbek population to migrate abroad for work and to assess their subsequent impacts affecting the local society. The objective will be achieved on the basis of a medium-term research conducted in Uzbekistan supplemented by relevant data from the literature. A month-long field research was conducted in the summer of 2012, during which four rural areas in different parts of Uzbekistan (namely Bukhara, Samarkand, Karakalpak, Namangan regions) were visited. The research was qualitative, conducted using interviews that met the standards of a semi-standardized interview. The sample of respondents was selected randomly. The aim was to cover both genders and all ages of respondents. The only criterion for selecting respondents was elementary knowledge of Russian (and English for younger ones). The literature review provided insight into the historical context of Central Asia, statistical data on the number of migrants, scholarly articles assessing the current not only economic situation in Uzbekistan, and an overview of field research already conducted, both quantitative and qualitative. The advantage of quantitative research is the possibility of generalizing its results to the whole population, but these may differ in the everyday life of the local population. It is therefore advisable to complement quantitative research with qualitative research.
History of migration
Labour migration during the USSR
From the 1950s to the 1970s, migration from the European part of Russia and Ukraine to Uzbekistan was predominant. This was because the Soviet Union needed specialists to develop industry in the Central Asian region, which was one of the most backward within the Soviet Union. While the Soviet Union could have trained the local workforce, it was a cheaper option to send trained experts directly to the developing regions rather than build training centers for the local population in those regions. To give a concrete idea, during the 1960s, most migrants went to Kazakhstan (1,083,000), the Caucasus (763,000), Ukraine (419,000) and Uzbekistan (409,000), while most went from the Volga region (845,000), central Russia (611,000) and the Urals (595,000).  The trend of immigration to Uzbekistan reversed during the 1980s, with emigration from Uzbekistan’s urban areas as European labor migrated more northward. The emigration process accelerated after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Migration after the collapse of the USSR
After independence, not only in Uzbekistan but also in other socialist countries, there was a trend of rapid growth of migration due to the return of some ethnic groups to their mother countries. This process reached its peak in the mid-1990s and ended in 2000. It is estimated that approximately 9 million people took advantage of it throughout the former USSR.
One of the reasons for the return was the strong nationalist orientation of the policies of the newly formed states, which may have resulted in ethnic conflicts, or the return of forcibly displaced ethnic groups during the Stalinist terror, or evacuations during World War II.  Directly, 4 million people left Uzbekistan during this period, with Turkmens going to Turkmenistan and Kazakhs to Kazakhstan (approximately 300,000 migrants to the south of the country ). Russians also left Central Asia, with an estimated 2-4 million emigrants between 1991 and 1994. Nearly 1 million emigrants are listed from Uzbekistan alone. Another minority were Uzbek Jews, who mostly left for the US or Israel.  A quarter of a million Crimean Tatars, most of them from Uzbekistan, were repatriated back to Ukraine in 1996. Another minority living in Uzbekistan were Koreans, who numbered 183,000 in 1989. This minority is interesting in terms of its development after the collapse of the USSR. From independence to 1999, 81 thousand of them emigrated back to Korea, however, another 64 thousand temporarily immigrated as workers for Korean companies. Koreans have occupied key positions in the Uzbek economy, industry and banking, and also receive support from South Korea as a state.
Migration in contemporary Uzbekistan
According to the latest census, Uzbekistan has a population of 28,128,600, making its population almost half of the population of Central Asia. The pressures that have forced Uzbeks to migrate beyond their national borders have arisen from the economic fallout caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union. After independence, the economy struggled with negative GDP, a slump in industry and agriculture, high inflation, skyrocketing unemployment (even though the state created 2 million jobs after the breakup), etc. All these circumstances have caused a significant decline in living standards. Although the state has managed to cope with the economic downturns, today the standard of living is still not satisfactory. One of the explanations offered is the strong pressure on the labour market caused by the strong working-age population that has reached working age and cannot find a job in the labour market (mostly in rural areas). One of the ways in which locals are trying to cope with the difficulties is through internal and especially external labour migration.
Rural and urban settlement in Uzbekistan has hardly changed since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The ratio of the population living in rural areas is 65% to the urban population of 35%. Since independence until last year, both population groups have progressively developed. Statistically speaking, the rural population has increased by a full third of its original size to nearly 18 million in the last 20 years, while the urban population has increased by only 20% to 10 million people. The explanation for such a high rural population can be justified not only by economic but mainly by social reasons. During the steep growth of the rural population in particular since the 1950s, it was assumed that this boom would create a push-pull effect that would force rural residents to move to cities. However, this effect did not take place. The research on this unusual phenomenon is unanimous in agreeing on the cultural causes (traditions, customs and the way of life itself) underlying the demographic behaviour of the population. Early marriages, high birth rates, and very few divorces have led to the growth of large families, thus reducing their mobility. The average size of a Central Asian family in 1979 was six members , twice as high as in European countries. The rate of natural increase was still three times higher in Central Asia than in the rest of the USSR in 1988. In addition to family size, another barrier to migration was lower education and skills combined. The reluctance to move to cities was further encouraged by the different cultural environment of cities populated mainly by European immigrants .
Economically, households had lower housing costs and larger living spaces, which created the right conditions for starting large families. Another reason for families to stay in the countryside was the high earnings from selling their own produce. However, this claim is disputed by some authors, as earnings from own production still statistically lagged behind the Soviet average, depending on the geographical location of the village. It also depended on the period in which the state ordered the production schedule and set purchase prices. If the production was higher than planned, the cooperatives could sell it at market (real) prices; the earnings were, of course, not taxed and not declared anywhere. State purchase prices were favourable until the 1970s, but then productivity and overall agricultural efficiency began to be monitored and purchase prices began to level off. The standard of living for rural families began to decline.
In the 1990s, the economic situation was critical, the countryside fed the city, and it was almost a necessity to have relatives in the countryside. Nowadays, the situation has improved, but during the interview, respondent Rona (30 years old, living in Tashkent) lamented that they have no relatives in the countryside and have to buy all their vegetables and meat in the city. Even nowadays, people in rural areas have an advantage over the city in the form of private farming. However, the situation in urban and rural areas is not satisfactory, and even if people in Uzbekistan have jobs, they are forced to leave because of low incomes or irregular salaries. There are also cases in which migrants go abroad only for seasonal work and return to their original jobs upon arrival.
Statistical perspective. Current statistics on Uzbek migration tracked by both world organizations and Uzbekistan itself are diametrically opposed. This is due to several reasons, depending on the source from where the figures are received. If it is official Uzbek state data, the numbers are lower as the Uzbek government tries to hide migration. On the other hand, data from independent organisations, which also estimate illegal migration, are significantly higher. But even in these, there may be variations based on the author and their chosen methodology. For example, with respect to Uzbekistan, the UN only produces estimates based on migration trends through averaging, which it derives from the statistics of neighboring countries that provide more reliable data to world organizations than Uzbekistan. For 2011, the UN estimate was around 1,200,000 Uzbek labour migrants , but according to official data from the Uzbek Statistics Bureau, there were only 200,000. 
The World Bank ranks Uzbekistan among the „Top 10“ emigration countries. Uzbekistan ranked 6th out of the „Europe and Central Asia“ group (in order of ranking: Russian Federation, Ukraine, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Romania, Uzbekistan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Azerbaijan). 
Migration Directions. The migration wave from Uzbekistan flows primarily to the successor states of the USSR (World Bank 2010 ranking: Russian Federation, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Israel, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Latvia, USA, Tajikistan, Germany). 
Thus, most Uzbeks head to the Russian Federation, accounting for approximately half to two-thirds of migrants heading beyond their home country in search of work, again depending on the source (45%, 60%, 70%). A World Bank report states that the Uzbek population in Russia now accounts for approximately 17% of all labour migrants there, the OECD states 15% over the last decade, with only 13% in 2010. The total number of migrants, including illegal ones, has climbed to 12,270,400 in 2010.
Compared with official figures from the Russian statistics office in 2002, which counted foreign nationals with stateless persons, the total did not even exceed 3 million.  However, even the official Russian authorities admit that they manage to cover only 20% of the total number of labour migrants on the territory of the Russian Federation. Therefore, they estimated the number of Uzbek migrants (legal and illegal) for 2005 at 334,000. This was countered by the Uzbek non-state organization „Tong Jahoni“ by saying that there were at least 800 thousand of these migrants .
Uzbekistan’s northern neighbour, Kazakhstan, is also a popular destination for labour migration. An estimated 16-19% of Kazakhstan’s population is made up of migrants. Kazakhstan has a population of 17.5 million and approximately 250,000 Uzbeks work there each year, accounting for 12-13% of the total number of Uzbek migrants. The destination is mainly Astana and other southern regions of the country.
The main target countries preferred by field research respondents include Russia and Kazakhstan. The migrants‘ decision on which of the states would be their destination can be summarized in the following few points.
Benefits of working across borders (Russia, Kazakhstan) 
- higher living standards, higher wages – highest in Russia, less so in Kazakhstan
- Visa-free travel (but you have to meet the administrative conditions of each country)
- larger labour market, especially true for Russia, where there is a high demand for labour in certain unattractive sectors for locals, as Russia has a negative natural increase
- advantages for migrating to Kazakhstan (or Kyrgyzstan) – low travel costs, similar culture and mindset, faster acclimatisation to a foreign environment, lower language barrier and overall less discrimination than in the case of Russia
- advantage of migration to Russia over other countries in the world – low language barrier (compared to European countries), Uzbeks have basic knowledge of Russian for everyday communication. In the field research Russia was one of the most mentioned destinations, subsequently
Kazakhstan. Respondents did not even mention Russia, and when asked about foreign migration and earning money, they simply answered: „Yes, to Moscow for money, my relative is in Moscow, I am going to go to Moscow on a machine (for construction, author’s note).“
Only in one case, a Russian teacher from Shafirkon, answered that in 2008 he visited Europe for 3 months and tried to find a job. His trip took him first to Scandinavian countries, he knew basic Swedish, and then to Spain. However, he did not find a job in Europe. He just waved his hand in response to the interviewer’s researchers‘ objection about the emerging crisis. He said he could get a job if he had contacts.
Typology of external migration
Although it is possible to be in doubt whether Uzbek migration is purely economic, when the Uzbek authoritarian regime is taken into account, research most often confirms economic reasons for emigration. Permanent emigration for political and religious reasons also takes place, of course (the receiving country is Ukraine), but not on such a massive scale as is the case with voluntary labour migration.
- Migration of unskilled migrants
This most heavily represented category includes men aged 18-45 years , most often from rural areas, have completed primary education, have low or no qualifications, and profess religious and traditional values. They do have jobs, but at low wages, which are often paid late.
In field research in rural areas, where the financial situation is most difficult, a certain type of migrant has been traced. The families interviewed always had at least one member or close relative abroad. These were boys aged 85 to 87 who, alone or together with their fathers, had earned the money to build a new house for their families abroad. Waiting for them at home (in Uzbekistan) were their young wives who were either pregnant or shortly after giving birth. Another group to be mentioned are the already older fathers of families whose daughters are of marriageable age (i.e. 90-93) and need to raise funds to arrange a wedding and furnish a new home.
2) Female labour migration
Most publications dealing with Uzbek labour migration across the border also mention female migration. The authors mention the original traditional role of women, their role was clearly defined, their place was at home and their main task was to take care of the family along with the whole economy including work in the fields. With better education and a change in lifestyle already during the USSR, women gradually began to work and earn additional income for the family. Nowadays, it is not uncommon for women to be employed. They work mainly in the service sector – mostly in the state sector, but also in the education sector – as teachers, educators, or in markets as saleswomen.
Qualitative research characterizes, based on individual women’s accounts, that women who go abroad are single, or have lost breadwinners either through death or divorce, or have lost their jobs in downsizing (women are the first to be laid off), with some cases describing sexual harassment in the workplace. The decision to go abroad to work is made by women for themselves, unlike men who address the issue with their families. For women, labour migration abroad first begins with a kind of ‚preparation‘, labour migration after Uzbekistan. Most often women migrate from rural areas to larger cities. Their best chance of employment is in the capital Tashkent. Women offer domestic work – ironing, washing, window cleaning.
Internal migration and the growing number of migrants and the forming information network gives women the courage to continue abroad legally. The most common migration destinations are Russia and Kazakhstan, but it is not uncommon for women (unlike men) to go further overseas, to the USA, South Korea, Italy and the United Arab Emirates. They mostly work in single households, taking care of children or the elderly, or working in restaurants.However, women are subjected to far more discrimination abroad, i.e. lower wages or sexual harassment.
Unfortunately, no female respondents were found to be working abroad in the field research, and the families of the respondents only mentioned their male relatives. In only one case was it mentioned that there is also female migration, with women working as market vendors or as caregivers. The respondent in question was aware that this generally exists, but no direct contact was made with this person. The fact that female migration was not mentioned on the spot is due to the ongoing research in rural areas where the role of women is still clearly defined. While an employed woman is not uncommon here, the topic of female labour migration is taboo. The following is an example of an employed woman coming from the Bukhara region, the village of Shafirkorn. The informant (45 years old) works as a Russian teacher at an agricultural lyceum, she has four children, her husband also teaches Russian, but due to the low salary he only works part-time, his main activity is selling goods at the bazaar.
Labour migration started to boom in 2000 and was exclusively male migration, only since 2007 has it been gradually joined by female migration, which is still seen as something bad, something that is not talked about, as confirmed by field research. It is questionable whether the view of female labour migration will change in the future and women will be seen as a relevant complement to other male family members who travel for work.
3) Migration of highly skilled migrants
The least represented category includes those aged 25-45, have university degrees from foreign or prestigious Uzbek universities, are highly skilled, and are fluent in Russian and other foreign languages. They are looking for lucrative jobs in Uzbekistan or abroad. The estimate of the size of this category is 40-50 thousand migrants.
In this category, we can talk about the danger of a brain drain abroad. Students studying at Western universities abroad are already trying to stay abroad, as their education will not be sufficiently used in their home country and they will not be as well financially rewarded as they might be abroad. With their knowledge, they will be able to get involved in foreign companies or non-profit organizations, for which the climate in Uzbekistan is not very conducive. Therefore, these organizations cannot accept all ambitious students graduated from foreign universities due to limited capacity. If students would like to get involved in political structures, for example, they have no chance as politics is heavily influenced by nepotism.
The state is aware of the danger of an outflow of educated people, but on the other hand these people are a threat to the authoritarian regime, so together with the increase in emigration in the 2000s, the Uzbek government is opting for a policy of isolationism. This has manifested itself in the restriction of opportunities to travel abroad, in the restriction of communication, media and foreign literature. These measures also affected the foreign education programs of Uzbek students both in Western universities and in Russia . However, to confirm good relations with Moscow, a branch of Moscow University in Tashkent was opened. Similarly, the regime restricted the possibility of religious pilgrimages to Mecca. The government has decided to directly control who may participate in the pilgrimage. These regulations also apply to international religious studies programmes, so President Karimov has built several religious schools to „protect“ students from the influence of non-religious Muslim policies. 
Frequency of migration and length of stay
Migration frequency and length of stay depend mainly on the distance of the receiving country. Thus, in the case of Kazakhstan, where Uzbeks migrate mainly from the north of the country to southern Kazakhstan, migration is more seasonal. If migrants go to Russia, they stay in the country for at least one year. Firstly, because of the difficulty of the journey (both financially and in terms of distance), and secondly, because of work permits if they work legally or because of a contract with an employer.
Migrants usually return abroad because the money they have earned is quickly used, they do not make much savings. The more often they go, the greater the risk that they will start another family abroad and never return. While 88% of respondents in the survey said they were not interested in staying abroad because they were only going to solve their financial situation, the remaining 12% included young men and women who have no commitments in Uzbekistan. 
In an interview conducted in the Kazakh village of Badam, an Uzbek migrant (52 years old) said that he comes from Fergana  and only goes to Kazakhstan for seasonal work, always for two months, then home for a day or two and returns back as his employer does not have to deal with the paperwork. The respondent worked in Badam on the construction of a sewage system. He had accommodation with ethnic Uzbeks, but born in Kazakhstan.
Most documents report migrants employed generally in construction or agriculture. In terms of positions in particular sectors, foreign employers categorize migrants by place of origin, that is, urban or rural. Men from the cities get better positions, working in services (catering) or being hired as managers on a construction site, leading a group of workers and having responsibility for certain tasks assigned to them. As seen in the testimony of a Tashkent migrant who works as a construction manager, in order for the job to be done well, he has to apprentice young and inexperienced workers.In contrast, migrants from rural areas work as rough labor.
Migrants think about what kind of industry they will work in before going abroad; they are concerned about earning high wages in a short time. As most of the respondents of the questionnaire survey said, they are looking for such fields which will bring quick profit and in which high qualifications are not needed. Therefore, in most cases, they end up working on construction sites or in such services that are not attractive to local residents.The last event that offered many jobs was the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
The author of another research states that although ⅔ of migrants have some qualifications, they are not sufficiently used in Uzbekistan, which is dangerous for young Uzbeks in terms of losing motivation to complete their studies or obtain qualifications. They will do the most menial jobs abroad, but at higher wages than in their home country. 
Impacts of migration
Just as the numbers of people migrating abroad for work are difficult to track, remittances are also difficult to measure. The ratio of remittances to Uzbek GDP does not appear in World Bank statistical yearbooks because Uzbekistan has not provided any data for processing, so all data are estimated by experts. Some data is also provided by the Uzbek Statistical Office, which independent economists say cannot be trusted, as evidenced by the many times lower figures for foreign migration. According to economist R. Shelburne, remittances accounted for over 10% of GDP in Uzbekistan in 2007.Experts say that remittances contribute to the welfare of their recipients through multiplier effects that work even when the money is „only“ used for consumption. According to analyses, increased consumption has an impact on the secondary and tertiary sectors, which are important for job creation. On the other hand, using remittances only for consumption can increase the price of basic goods in recipient countries, create real estate bubbles, or negatively impact exports. Remittances may be limited by local markets, such as an unavailable credit market to guarantee remittances, which is a barrier to potential investment. Some risk of remittances is the dependence on remittances themselves; recipients (families) may be severely affected if the flow of remittances declines.
Investing additional income in education or supporting the business of individual households that cannot afford a bank loan can help to raise household living standards. Investing in education depends on the preferences of individual residents, but the state also has an influence on supporting household entrepreneurship, as it can offer favourable micro-grants to support small and medium-sized entrepreneurs and thus create jobs.
In Uzbekistan, entrepreneurial ventures are limited by basic capital, which must be complete, as micro-grants are not supported by the state and only senior civil servants and military personnel can access bank loans (even a rank-and-file military worker has a higher income than a teacher). Administrative barriers are another obstacle for would-be entrepreneurs.
Respondent Farhod (31 years old) shared his business plans in the village of Lenin (Namangan region). He wants to build a hot water bath for people to wash. He also wants to set up a kindergarten with English lessons. However, he fears that the authorities are more likely to reject his business plans. Firstly, because of the complicated bureaucratic administration, and secondly, teaching English to such young children is not entirely politically viable.
There is no doubt that migration helps the people of Uzbekistan financially. The money received benefits not only the migrant, but his or her entire family and close relatives. A 2010 figure reported that migrants send up to $1,500 a year on average to their families. Another source reports that the average income of a family with a representative abroad is 5 to 10 times higher than other sources of household income.
A family that has a relative abroad will have a higher standard of living, can afford to spend money on better quality food, repair the house, furnish the home, hold grand ceremonial celebrations, invest in the education of children, or obtain seed money for a business.
Graph 1. Use of funds raised abroad.
Source: ABDULLAEV, Evgeniy. Labour Migration in Uzbekistan: Social, Legal and Gender Aspects. Tashkent: UNDP Country Office in Uzbekistan, 2008, [cited 2013-03-25]. Available from: <http://www.undp.uz/…153>, p. 169/22 (own elaboration)
The chart presented here shows what families spend the funds raised across the border on. The top three items are food, housing and ceremonies. Only the fourth place is occupied by education. Savings is only in last place, as money is spent earlier on tangible and intangible goods with higher priority than savings itself.
Graf 2. Finance expenditure – rural and urban areas
Source: ABDULLAEV, Evgeniy. Labour Migration in Uzbekistan: Social, Legal and Gender Aspects. Tashkent: UNDP Country Office in Uzbekistan, 2008, [cited 2013-03-25]. Available from: <http://www.undp.uz/…153>, p. 171/23 (own elaboration)
The same source also looked at the distribution of expenditure between rural and urban families. In the above chart, rural and urban diverge on housing, education and ceremonies.
There is an Uzbek proverb related to the issue of housing: „Every Uzbek fixes his house before marriage.“. Although according to quantitative research, housing is a priority for the urban population, based on field research, this saying has been confirmed in rural areas, with young boys (alone or with their fathers) going abroad to earn the necessary funds to be able to take care of their future housing. Regarding education, although quantitatively, more emphasis is given to education among the urban population, however, the complemented focus group, showed that rural residents also recognize the priority of education and want their children (regardless of gender) to have a secondary education or to be trained in some field (most often technical for boys) and have a chance to get a better job.
In the field research carried out, it was found that the parents‘ education matters more than the environment where the family lives (urban or rural). In a village called Shafirkon (Bukhara region), a family was approached in which both parents were Russian teachers by profession, whose higher education was provided by a Ukrainian university. All four of their children had already attended Russian primary schools in Uzbekistan, which provide better quality teaching compared to Uzbek schools, and in which they all learned fluent Russian. Their most confident daughter Aziza (18 years old) is now preparing for the university entrance exams in Tashkent. Apart from her parents, she is aware that studying at a university (especially the Tashkent one) will open the door to a better future for her.
Conversations with other students in Shafirkon revealed that almost all of them are preparing or intend to prepare for university studies in the future. The exams consist of history, English and mathematics. Although English is taught in schools, most students still attend preparatory courses. In towns that are tourist centres, local students walk around the sights and get to talk to tourists for practice. In universities, students prefer to major in languages, with English as the first language and a second language of their choice – German, French, Korean was no exception.
Some students, on the other hand, no longer want to study because they do not see a prospect in higher education. The main reason students give for this is the financial burden on their parents and the perception that better studies will not get them better paying jobs.
There is an interesting difference in expenditure between rural and urban populations in the area of ceremonies and education. In rural areas, there is still more attention to tradition, with weddings being the biggest priority.
The financial burden on families is considerable. Traditionally, the role of the parents is to build the house on the groom’s side, and on the bride’s side to furnish the house from furniture to appliances. In the past, the bride was still charged a „kalym„, the so-called bride price, by the groom’s family. According to accounts received from field research, the kalym is no longer paid as it is an additional financial burden. Although, in the words of a neighbour in Shafirkon (Bukhara region): „Kalym has not been paid for a long time, such an outdated thing! Where did you hear about it! We only got a cow for our daughter.“ In the end, both families have to dress up a grand wedding, where it is obligatory to invite even the most distant relatives and neighbours. The magnificence of the wedding ceremony is a kind of calling card for the family.
In the field research, the topic of wedding was among the most popular for Uzbeks. Invariably, the wedding was vividly described (and then the narrative was supplemented by at least 3 hours of DVD footage), what customs to observe, where the wedding was celebrated, how many days it was celebrated, and the greatest boast was the number of guests, which can climb from the smallest wedding for 500 people to over 1,000. The parents of the newlyweds of course pay for the refreshments. Spending on weddings has been so high in some states that even the Tajik government had to promulgate a law in 2007 banning large celebrations on which migrants spend all the money they earn abroad. NGOs then prepared special seminars for returning migrants on how to use the money they earned properly. 
During the field research, it was found in more than half of the families interviewed that their son is currently working in Russia for a year, and upon his return he will use the money he earned to build a house (near his parents) and get married. Or, their son was shortly after getting married and his newlywed wife was staying with his parents with most of their newborn child, waiting for her husband who was earning money to build a house.
Another respondent, an Uzbek migrant (52 years old) from Fergana, working in the village of Badam in Kazakhstan, said that he was earning money for his daughter, who is now 19 years old, for her wedding. A builder (45 years old) from Namangan region had already worked on construction several times in Russia and used the experience he gained in Uzbekistan to open his own construction company, which, although successful, he said he was going abroad again for his daughter’s upcoming wedding.
The social impacts of migration tend to be negative. It is not only the migrant himself who is affected by what he has experienced abroad with possible health consequences and seen later, the migrant’s family is also affected. Migration has a profound negative impact on the upbringing of children (no father in the family) and on traditional strong family ties. These ties, which survived the Soviet period, are now beginning to break.
Although in the questionnaire survey 88%  of respondents said that they were not interested in staying abroad, as they were only going abroad to sort out their financial situation, people spend their money very quickly and the amount of money is not large enough to cover their savings. With men repeatedly going abroad, the risk of finding another wife and starting a family abroad increases, which can almost ruin the Uzbek woman. Not only will the woman lose the breadwinner, but also the parents who depend on their son in old age. The woman has to find a job and the children are raised by grandparents.
In the field research, the wife of Farhod Ron (30 years old), working in the office in Tashkent, shared the fears she had before the departure of her husband, who was about to complete a year’s PhD in Poland and form job contacts. She and her husband have two sons, aged 5 and 8. One of her biggest fears was that he would come back after a year and find a wife abroad, something she said happens a lot. Another concern was that the family would miss the father and that he did not know how he would manage to support the whole family. She could not rely on her parents as they were already dead, nor on her husband as they were divorced and lived far away.
A conversation about the change of perspective on life in Uzbekistan and the influence of Western Europe took place with Farhod, the husband of the aforementioned Rona. Farhod (31 years old), originally from Namangan, now lives with his wife and two sons in Tashkent in a prefabricated apartment. He has a PhD in engineering from Tashkent University. Farhod was the only person who was able to speak out and criticize state policies even on the street.
As he puts it, it was only Europe that opened his eyes. He used to be proud of his country, believing in its wealth and abilities, compared to the poor West, which he knew only from a bad angle on TV. He came to Austria for a two-month German language course while studying at university. In Austria he discovered how Europe works, that not everything is as the Uzbek government portrays it. After returning to Uzbekistan, he said he was unable to work and live a normal life as he was disappointed. Immediately after arriving home, he threw away the television as he said it only conveyed lies and a distorted picture of Uzbekistan where everything was right compared to Europe. He also speaks of the current young generation who, thanks to the media, are influenced by this propaganda and believe everything (as confirmed by selected interviews with students in Samarkand). He claims that the president is behind everything, he has degraded education (all degrees can be bought) because it is easier to govern a stupid people. He made Uzbekistan a police state, even a junior soldier has a higher salary than a teacher. He adds that capitalism is to blame for everything, his generation that was affected by the collapse of the USSR is a lost generation, they have no social benefits, they have to work hard and still have nothing. He contrasted this with European social policy, about which he was obviously enthusiastic. Because in Europe they don’t have to pay for health services, education, social benefits work. However, he was unable to answer the question of whether and how much taxes are paid in Uzbekistan.
The health problems that migrants face upon arrival are both physical and psychological. Migrants abroad in the context of saving money live in inhumane conditions (sharing a room with several people), do not have adequate food and health care is zero. According to statistics, between 400 and 1,000 migrants die annually in Russia and Kazakhstan due to unsuitable conditions, lack of health care and local aggression.According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, over 1,000 Tajiks died in Russia in 2012 for the same reasons.  Migrants do undergo medical examinations upon arrival abroad, but not after departure. Thus, there is no record of the condition in which migrants return. Therefore, the spread of diseases to the surrounding area, such as tuberculosis or venereal diseases, is also a threat to the local population of Uzbekistan.
The history of Uzbek migration in the 20th century is strongly influenced by its then relationship with the USSR. An important factor in the country’s development was the arrival of European intellectuals in the 1950s, who occupied strategic industrial positions in the cities. Their exodus began in the 1970s. The collapse of the USSR and the declaration of Uzbekistan as a republic meant their complete departure, as Uzbekistan began to build a nation-state and the European intelligentsia lost its credit and advantages. In addition to European immigrants, ethnic minorities also left and decided to return to their now newly ethnic homes – such as the Uzbek Kazakhs in Kazakhstan.
The Uzbeks have always been a settled people; internal migration has never been popular because of strong family ties and dependence on agricultural land. After the collapse of the USSR, the economic situation worsened, with the state no longer able to subsidise unprofitable industries, loss-making agriculture, and rising unemployment, which is now compounded by the strong vintages that have reached working age. Therefore, since the year 2000, the local population started to solve this situation by working abroad. These trips can be called a kind of modern nomadism. Not only do migrants return to their homes, but they also prefer to go beyond the borders to places they have already visited.
Causes of migration
The causes of labour emigration for the majority of Uzbekistan’s population are rooted in the desire to achieve a higher standard of living, which they can currently only achieve through employment abroad. The author’s respondents chose Russia and Kazakhstan as the most suitable destination countries because of visa-free travel, a large labour market, higher incomes and language skills.
The most frequent departures are men who work abroad in unskilled labour positions that are not in demand locally. Women’s migration is no exception; they most often work in service jobs, in domestic work, or as caregivers. During the field research, respondents spoke exclusively about male unskilled labour working on construction sites in Russia. There was only one mention of female migration, a confirmation that this migration exists, but no respondents were contacted. Yet, according to world statistics, the number of women migrants is the same as men.
According to World Bank statistics, in addition to Russia and Kazakhstan, Ukraine is also among the countries heavily visited and serves as a transfer station for migration to the West. It should be noted that none of the respondents mentioned Ukraine during the field research. In the statistics of Uzbek migration, it is possible to find significant deviations between the state Uzbek statistics and the world organizations. The Uzbek state authorities do not provide actual migrant numbers and the published statistics are deeply underestimated as labour migration is not popular for Uzbekistan. The state even denied it until 2003. A counterpoint is the statistics of world organizations (World Bank, UN), they produce overall data based on statistical data of neighboring countries, receiving countries and trends. From this data, an estimate is calculated of how many migrants are sent abroad each year. The results vary considerably, with world statistics reporting up to 4 times higher numbers of migrants (legal ones) than the Uzbek State Statistics Service.
Impacts of migration
The economic positive impacts include increased living standards and alleviation of unemployment. However, the reduction in unemployment is only relative; only a minority migrates abroad and does not solve the unemployment problem. Rather, it is being exacerbated and delayed because the state does not need to address it acutely. It is the state that should be the first impulse from above and take full advantage of the flow of remittances from labour migration, which, according to estimates, accounts for a considerable part of the country’s GDP (around 10% of annual GDP). Moreover, this part can be even increased if the state supports the multiplier effect of remittances in the form of loans, incentives for people to set up their own businesses, etc.
Migrants will not only raise the standard of living for themselves with their imported funds, but for their entire family, which often depends on foreign income. The funds received are immediately invested in real estate (building a new house), ceremonies (especially weddings), improving the overall standard of living and, last but not least, education. Unfortunately, the money earned from abroad is not enough for savings. Therefore, a one-off trip abroad is not typical for migrants.
In terms of social impacts, it is important to point out the breakdown of the family, which is otherwise characterised by tradition and strong ties throughout the Central Asian region. The absence of a family member has a negative impact on the family. In some cases, this member may stay abroad and start a new life. There are also significant negative health consequences, as migrants often work abroad in substandard conditions and their health problems may be permanent upon return.
The field research conducted in the summer of 2012 showed mostly positive impacts of labour migration. Virtually every family interviewed by the author had someone who had worked abroad (either a close family member or a more distant relative). It was always clear that the whole (sometimes extended) family lived off the income of the person abroad. Strong family ties were noticeable, with the incomplete family being given support by other relatives, either socially (babysitting, household help) or financially if payments from abroad were delayed. Money from abroad was most often invested in real estate (extensions, repairs, house construction), for special family events (mainly weddings), but also put into education. Those parents who had themselves achieved higher education promised to secure a better future for their children, either in Uzbekistan or abroad.
 GANG, Ira N. and Robert C. STUART. Mobility Where Mobility Is Illegal: Internal Migration and Urban Growth in the Soviet Union. Journal of Population Economics. 1999, no. 12, pp. 117-134.
 For 1981-5, 205,000; 1985-9, up to 479,000, with the number falling to 364,000 in the next five years. AMAN, Alikhan. Population Migration in Uzbekistan: (1989-1998). Tashkent: American University of Central Asia, 1999. Available from: <http://src.auca.kg/…pdf>.
 Weighing the Political and Economic Motivations for Migration in Post-Soviet Space: The Case of Uzbekistan.Europe-Asia Studies [online]. 2006, vol. 58, no. 5, 653-677 [cited 2013-03-18]. Available from: <http://www.jstor.org/…>, p. 653
 RADNITZ, Scott. Weighing the Political and Economic Motivations for Migration in Post-Soviet Space: the Case of Uzbekistan. In: Europe-Asia Studies. Glasgow: Taylor & Francis, Ltd, 2006, pp. 653-677. 58, 5. ISSN 09668136. DOI: 10.1080/09668130600731003.
 MARAT, Erica. Labor Migration in Central Asia: Implications of the Global Economic Crisis. Washington and Stockholm: Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and the Silk Road Studies Program, 2009. ISBN 978-91-85937-57-8 Available from: <http://edoc.bibliothek.uni-halle.de/>, p. 8
 MARAT, Erica. Labor Migration in Central Asia: Implications of the Global Economic Crisis. Washington and Stockholm: Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and the Silk Road Studies Program, 2009. ISBN 978-91-85937-57-8 Available from: <http://edoc.bibliothek.uni-halle.de/>, p. 8
 The World Factbook: Uzbekistan. CIA[online]. 2013 [cited 2013-03-01]. Available from: <https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/uz.html>.
 RODRÍGUEZ RIOS, Roger. INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR MIGRATION. Migration perspectives: Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Vienna: IOM, 2006. ISBN 9789290692509., p. 134
 ibid, p. 135
 PATNAIK, Ajay. Agriculture and rural out migration in Central Asia, 1960-91. Europe-Asia Studies [online]. 1995, vol. 47, issue 1, pp. 147-169 [cited 2013-09-24]. DOI: 10.1080/09668139508412248. Available from: http://www.tandfonline.com/ p. 159.
 They came to Central Asia in the 1950s from Europe to fill vacancies in industry because they were skilled.
 PATNAIK, Ajay. Agriculture and rural out migration in Central Asia, 1960-91. [online]. Europe-Asia Studies 1995, vol. 47, issue 1, pp. 147-169 [cited 2013-09-24]. DOI: 10.1080/09668139508412248. Available from: http://www.tandfonline.com/, p. 156
 During field research in Moldova (2009), rural urban provisioning was a common practice.
 Gosudarstvennyj komitět Respubliki Uzbekistan po statistike – Demograficheskije dannye (Governmental Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Statistics – Demographic Data) [online]. 2010 [cited 2013-06-21]. Available from: <http://www.stat.uz/demographic/>.
 ibid, p. 25
 MARAT, Erica. Labor Migration in Central Asia: Implications of the Global Economic Crisis. Washington, D.C.: Central Asia-Caucasus Institute, 2009. ISBN 978-918-5937-578. Available from: <http://www.silkroadstudies.org/>, p. 9
 MAKSAKOVA, Lyudmila. Feminization of Labor Migration in Uzbekistan. In: Migration Perspectives: Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Vienna: International Organization for Migration, 2006, pp. 133-147. ISBN 978-92-9069-250-9. Available from: <http://www.silkroadstudies.org/>, p. 133
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 Ukraine also appears in the World Bank statistics, but is not mentioned by fieldwork respondents.
 ILKHAMOV, Alisher. Geographic Mobility of Uzbeks: The Emergence of Crossnational Communities vs. Nation-state Control. [online]. 2006, p. 23 [cited 2013-04-18]. Available from: <http://www.nbr.org/>, pp. 6, 18
 Despite the fact that Uzbeks are the lowest paid nationality among other foreigners, a 2004 salary comparison found that workers from Ukraine and Armenia earn up to $130 per month, while Uzbeks earn only $52, but for Uzbeks this is still more than in their home country. Geographic Mobility of Uzbeks: The Emergence of Crossnational Communities vs. Nation-state Control, p. 8
 In terms of migrant age, Uzbeks are the youngest age group among other migrants. The average is 37 years old, while the average for Ukrainians is 43 years old, and for Tajiks it is one year older, RODRÍGUEZ RIOS, Roger.
INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR MIGRATION. Migration perspectives: Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Vienna: IOM, 2006. ISBN 9789290692509, p. 138
 1514 people participated in the quantitative research, 51 in the qualitative research; ABDULLAEV, Evgeniy. Labour migration in the Republic of Uzbekistan: Social, Legal and Gender. Tashkent: United Nations Development Programme, 2008, pp. 70, 171.
 RODRÍGUEZ RIOS, Roger. INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR MIGRATION. Migration perspectives: Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Vienna: IOM, 2006. ISBN 9789290692509., p. 137
 ILKHAMOV, Alisher. Geographic Mobility of Uzbeks: The Emergence of Crossnational Communities vs. Nation-state Control. [online]. 2006, p. 23 [cited 2013-04-18]. Available from: <http://www.nbr.org/>, p. 22
 Between 1992 and 2001, the number of students studying at universities in Russia and Ukraine fell (from 8,100 students to 3,300 students), ibid, p. 5
 ILKHAMOV, Alisher. Geographic Mobility of Uzbeks: The Emergence of Crossnational Communities vs. Nation-state Control. [online]. 2006, p. 23 [cited 2013-04-18]. Available from:<http://www.nbr.org/>, p. 23
 ABDULLAEV, Evgeniy. Labour Migration in Uzbekistan: Social, Legal and Gender Aspects. Tashkent: UNDP Country Office in Uzbekistan, 2008, [cited 2013-03-25]. Available from:
<http://www.undp.uz/>, p. 133, Chart 7
 Fergana is an Uzbek region bordering southern Kazakhstan
 ABDULLAEV, Evgeniy. Labour Migration in Uzbekistan: Social, Legal and Gender Aspects. Tashkent: UNDP Country Office in Uzbekistan, 2008, [cited 2013-03-25]. Available from:<http://www.undp.uz/>, p. 146
 idem, p. 163
 ibid, p. 146, chart no. 16
 RODRÍGUEZ RIOS, Roger. INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR MIGRATION. Migration perspectives: Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Vienna: IOM, 2006. ISBN 9789290692509., p. 134
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 ABDULLAEV, Evgeniy. Labour migration in the Republic of Uzbekistan: Social, Legal and Gender. Tashkent: United Nations Development Programme, 2008, p. 14.
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 The remaining 12 per cent include young men and women who have no commitments in Uzbekistan; Labour Migration in Uzbekistan, p. 133, Figure 7.
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