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Ethnic Migration in Central and Eastern Europe: Its Historical Background and Contemporary Flows


  • Roel Jennissen

    1. Research and Documentation Centre, Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice
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    • Roel Jennissen is researcher at the Research and Documentation Centre (WODC) of the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice. He also worked at the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI), where he conducted most of the research for this article. He obtained a Ph.D. in demography from the University of Groningen on the basis of the book Macro-Economic Determinants of International Migration in Europe (2004). Currently, his main research interests are the integration of non-Western minorities in the Netherlands, international migration, and historical demography.


This article aims to describe the historical background of international ethnic migration in Central and Eastern Europe. The rise and fall of the Habsburg Empire in Central Europe and the Ottoman Empire in Southeastern Europe has been the underlying cause of many ethnic migration flows in Central and Eastern Europe in the post-communist era. Moreover, the German Ostkolonisation, border changes after the two World Wars, and interstate migration in the former Soviet Union caused a large pool of potential ethnic migrants. In addition to the description of this historical background, this article contains a description of important contemporary ethnic migration flows that originate from the aforementioned historical developments, and a discussion of future developments of ethnic migration in Central and Eastern Europe.

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