International scientific conference Future of Retirement Migrations in Europe
Dubrovnik, 15–18 May 2003
Under the guidance of the research associate Saša Božić (PhD) and in cooperation with the head of the Scientific Network on Older Migrants in Europe of the European Science Foundation (ESF), professor Tony Warnes from the University of Sheffield, the Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies organized an international scientific conference in Dubrovnik (15–18 May 2003) on the future of migrations of older people in Europe.
Until recently, European researchers concentrated exclusively on labour migration, which has presently lost scientific and practical legitimacy. Namely, the number of older and retired people among modern European migrants is growing dramatically. Nearly a million retirees, mostly from the northern European countries, have already settled or spend most of the year in the European Mediterranean countries. There are also a great number of retired returnees who had been working for decades in Western and Northern European countries. Another growing group of elderly people from Southern Europe has decided to join their descendants in Northern and Western Europe who migrated in the previous decades as labour migrants. Social, economic and political consequences of these migrations are gaining importance as the social, economic and political integration of the European Union becomes more and more intensive. Precisely older migrants who live in other European countries and use their social welfare, health care etc. challenge current social policies of the European Union oriented to the senior population. Older migrants from Northern and Western Europe have significantly influenced the local development of Mediterranean tourist destinations and imposed challenges to urban planners and ecological policies through constant additional construction. It is a case of an extremely mobile population that migrates cyclically, pendular or seasonally among different countries of the European Union and spends different parts of the year in different social environments. This is why this population is becoming more and more interesting to scientists who study the trans-national forms of mobility.
Senior migrants from Western Europe and especially from Central Europe show growing interest in Croatia due to its preserved environment in the coastal area and geographical proximity. Even though they do not spend most of the year in their new houses at the Adriatic, a great number of senior migrants from Central Europe (mostly Germans, Austrians and Slovenes) buy real estates in Croatia, just as senior Europeans did in Spain and Italy, and stay there for several months.
Croatia is of special interest to researchers of retirement migration since it is the case of several migrations flows of older people – senior migrants from Central Europe who stay at the Adriatic, senior Croatian labour migrants who returned from traditionally immigration countries like Germany, Austria and Switzerland and senior Croatian migrants who join Croatian labour migrants as part of the family-uniting migration policy of the above countries.
Leading experts and scientists in the field of retirement migration from Spain, Italy, Great Britain, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland took part in the conference. One of the most important conclusions reached at the conference was that Croatia should carefully consider its policy towards older migrants, especially those from the European Union living at the Adriatic. To avoid ecological and urban mistakes seen in other parts of the Mediterranean, Croatia should, as it was recommended by scientists and experts with extensive experience in this field, apply the Tuscan model which enriches and revitalizes old town centres and abandoned but architecturally valuable places. This can create a significant influx of funds that can be used to build the infrastructure and at the same time, it causes no local social tensions and poses no threat to the environment.