Global Estonian | Millennials might prefer to live abroad due to Eastern European mentality in Estonia
A still from the movie "Generation Beyond the Border". (2022) Director: Terje Toomistu. Author/source: Terje Toomistu
Kaader filmist "Põlvkond piiri taga". (2022) Režissöör: Terje Toomistu. Autor/allikas: Terje Toomistu

Millennials might prefer to live abroad due to Eastern European mentality in Estonia

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Although economic conditions may prevent young people who have moved abroad from returning to Estonia, they are also deterred by values perceived as Eastern European, write researchers from the University of Tartu. However, most young people who have moved across the border still consider it important to identify as Estonian.

The so-called Generation Y came of age after Estonia joined the European Union. According to Terje Toomistu, a researcher in ethnology at the University of Tartu, it is now the norm for this generation to go abroad for studies or work for a while. "Interestingly, identifying oneself as Estonian remains very important among young people living abroad. Over 80 percent of them consider it significant, surpassing all other categories of affiliation proposed in the survey," she points out.

In recent years, Toomistu and her colleagues at the University of Tartu have studied the migration of Generation Y. "As a researcher, I was particularly interested in what influences the decision to stay in a foreign country or return to Estonia," she recalls.

The study, which included online surveys and interviews, indicated that young people primarily leave due to a desire to see the world: 90 percent of respondents cited this as a reason. Over a third of the respondents sought better living conditions and salaries abroad. Approximately the same number were driven abroad by personal reasons.

"Those who had already returned most commonly mentioned a desire to come back to their homeland," states Toomistu. However, it is unclear whether this desire is driven by strong national identity feelings or simply the wish to return to a familiar environment. "Probably, for many people, it is a combination of different factors," the researcher reflects.





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