AGBU-Organized Events Reveal New Trends in Armenia’s Emigration
The DEPOP Research Group, in partnership with AGBU and the Kololian Foundation, has just concluded a worldwide tour to present its report “The Depopulation Crisis in Armenia.” Drawing hundreds of attendees in Beirut, Paris, Toronto, New York, and Los Angeles, the events sparked a new dialogue about emigration, demographic and socioeconomic challenges in Armenia today and possibilities for building a stronger future for the republic.
The report, which was first introduced at a United Nations Population Fund conference in Yerevan in October 2013, is based on extensive fieldwork conducted across Armenia. For more than a year, four independent research teams, selected by the International Center for Human Development in Yerevan on behalf of the Kololian Foundation, gathered data on the ground.
The researchers include Dr. Khatchik Der Ghougassian of the Hrayr Maroukhian Foundation; Veronica Aghajanyan, Ani Avetisyan, Tatevik Hovhannisyan, Elena Kozhemyakina, Elena Muradyan, and Elina Sahakyan of the Russian-Armenian (Slavonic) University; Kristine Antonyan, Karlen Khachatryan, and Haik Sargsyan of Yerevan State University; and independent researchers Arshak Balayan, Armen Gakavian, and Avetik Mejlumyan.
The DEPOP teams’ focus groups, interviews, media monitoring and surveys revealed startling statistics: a near 20% drop in Armenia’s population over the past two decades. Their research shows that although those numbers were initially tied to a lack of economic opportunities, in recent years, families with higher earnings are even more likely to leave the country.
In light of these findings, the DEPOP group proposed recommendations, which they shared at each stop on their global tour. Vahan Kololian, co-founder of the Toronto-based think tank the Mosaic Institute and the sponsor of the DEPOP project, pointed to the need for the Armenian diaspora to help reverse these demographic trends.
In his address to guests at the AGBU Central Office in New York, Kololian remarked that “the Armenian people have a history of uniting in the face of crisis. The country’s readily declining population is yet another crisis that we must resolve together, whether it is by investing in local businesses and micro-lending or by engaging with the Ministry of Diaspora to support civic projects that lead to greater citizen involvement.” The first step to bringing about meaningful change, he continued, is to organize robust public debates and discussions—which they were able to initiate with AGBU as a partner.
The DEPOP group also stressed the importance of strengthening civic institutions across Armenia. Kamo Mailyan, the editor of www.depop.am, shared, “We believe that the development of economic, education and judicial systems, as well as civil society, will bring positive change in Armenia. By building the capacity of those institutions, we can strengthen the democratic process and create a prosperous future for our country and our people.”
With its first international tour complete, the DEPOP Research Group is now seeking to partner with local civic groups to encourage transparency and participatory decision-making and to empower Armenian youth country-wide.
To learn more about the DEPOP group, and to download a copy of the report “The Depopulation Crisis in Armenia,” please visit www.depop.am.
The Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) is the world’s largest non-profit
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a difference in the lives of 500,000 people across Armenia, Artsakh and the
Armenian diaspora. Since 1906, AGBU has remained true to one overarching
goal: to create a foundation for the prosperity of all Armenians.
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