Staunton, June 8 – Muscovites believe that migrants are taking away jobs from local people, that they are overburdening the health care system, and that they choose to remain unregistered and illegal. But none of these things are true, according to Yuliya Florinskaya, a researcher at the Institute of Demography of the Moscow Higher School of Economics.
On the basis of a survey of 600 Muscovites and 200 immigrant workers conducted in 2013, Florinskaya concludes that there are anecdotal problems in each of these three cases but that they have been much exaggerated and that Muscovites are often as much to blame for them as are the labor migrants.
Forty percent of Muscovites believe that gastarbeiters (migrant workers) are taking away jobs from local people, but that is simply not the case, Florinskaya says. On the one hand, unemployment is very low in the Russian capital. And on the other, few native Muscovites are prepared to do the kind of jobs for the kind of money that labor migrants are despite claims to the contrary.
Moreover, few Muscovites are ready to acknowledge that the lower pay the labor migrants receive works to the benefit of the natives of the city. Many of the immigrants work for individual Muscovites and at salaries that no longtime resident of the city would agree to. Muscovites with lower incomes don’t have this opportunity and see the migrants as a threat.
Second, many Muscovites believe that labor migrants are overwhelming their city’s medical facilities, but that is not true either, Florinskaya reports. What the city spends on their health care is more than covered by the patents that employers have to pay. And it is also not the case that labor migrants are coming to Moscow, having children and deserting them in ever larger numbers.
There are cases of that, but they are few in number: 95 in 2011; 85 in 2012; and 47 during the first half of 2013. Each is a tragedy, but the total phenomenon is very small compared to the consequences of similar behaviors by Muscovites themselves, Florinskaya suggests.
And third, while many Muscovites think labor migrants choose illegal status, that does not correspond to the facts. Most migrants would like to be legally registered and have the benefits that would give, but they often cannot do so because in many cases, Muscovite employers refuse to give them the paperwork that the labor migrants need.