The Pareto principle says that, generally speaking, 80% of any given results will come from only 20% of any given causes. As the original 19th century examples go, 80% of the land in Italy was controlled by 20% of the people, and 20% of Pareto’s peapods contained 80% of the peas. I can think of a few more contemporary examples: 20% of start-ups generate 80% of start-up wealth, 20% of your effort in the gym will provide 80% of your results, or – as Woody Allen says – “Showing up is 80% of life.” In fact, just showing up is probably far less than 20% of the effort you’ll expend on something. Pareto strikes again.
There are 3.8 million ethnic Croats who live in Croatia and 500,000 who live in Bosnia. Up to 350,000 Croats live in Germany, 150,000 in Austria, 40,000 in Switzerland, 350,000 in Sweden–I’ll stop there. There are up to 1.2 million people of Croatian descent in the United States. About 650,000 in South America. In Australia, 250,000. We could add up the whole list of numbers and get a figure of about 3 million Croats living outside of Croatia and Bosnia, but let’s be conservative and just add up the low estimates, and try to ignore some of the more distant emigrants who may not be very culturally Croatian anymore. Ignoring the United States and Latin America (the older 19th century emigration destinations), we get a figure of about 1 million Croats who recently emigrated abroad. To put it in dates, about 1 million who left the ancestral homelands in the Balkans since the 1960s.
These 1 million emigrants make up 20.8% of the worldwide population of Croats. A familiar number, no? What is the economic productivity of Croats worldwide, both in the Balkans and abroad? No one has collected this figure to my knowledge. We do know that the GDPs of Croatia and Bosnia proper are pretty low, though. I am no blind worshiper of GDP, but it should be a passable proxy for the purposes of this line of thought. Coincidentally, Croats in Croatia and Bosnia have a powerful inferiority complex about their status and productivity relative to the West.
There are 37 million Poles living in Poland. There are 10 million people of Polish descent in the United States. 3 million in Brazil, 3 million in Germany, etc.
If we add up the populations of Poles abroad in countries that Poles only recently emigrated to, we get about 6.5 million. According to the 2000 US Census, about 650,000 Americans reported speaking Polish at home. We can assume the number has declined a bit, so let’s say 600,000 Polish Poles in America. The total of recently emigrated Poles then comes out to 7.1 million. That emigrant population is 16.1% of the worldwide population of Poles. We could round 16.1% up to 20.0% if we chose to, could we not? Coincidentally, Poles also have something of an inferiority complex relative to the West. As far as I know, there is no data on the worldwide economic productivity of Poles (without regard to national borders). There is data on the GDP of Poland, however, and it’s not as flattering as the data about neighboring Germany’s GDP.
There are probably approximately 6 million recently-emigrated Russians living in the West. There are no figures on the number of Russian emigres (White Russians) who fled Russia for the West in the wake of the bloodshed of the 1917 Russian Revolution, but we know they were numerous (numerous enough to become a phenomenon) and that they were disproportionately aristocratic and high-functioning. The number of recently-emigrated Russians is only about 5% of the worldwide total of Russians, but add in the white emigres, and we may have a substantial loss of human capital. Russia, coincidentally, like Poland and Croatia, has something of a less-than-perfect economic, bureaucratic and educational system compared to the West, and Russians tend to know it.
Back to Croatia. We have no reason to think Pareto’s principle is going to be untrue when considering local and emigrant populations of a formerly unified nation. In that case, would it be presumptuous to say that the Croatian homeland is underperforming economically, socially, politically, scientifically and culturally by 80% due to the loss of the 20.8% of its best co-ethnics to the West? We would have to have reason to believe that the 20.8% of Croatian emigrants were from the right end of the human capital bell curve, and not the left or randomly distributed across it.
Croatian emigrants were, generally speaking, more right-wing, more religious, more credentialed, more educated and more enterprising from the 1960s to the 1990s, during the time of Tito’s Yugoslavia. The Communist government was not fond of right-wing Bible-thumpers and happily let them run off abroad. Nor are communists are known for their strong work ethic. Whether this means anti-Communists are more likely to have a strong work ethic and other praiseworthy qualities is an open question. More qualified, intelligent, and credentialed Croats found places in the West, and were more likely to stay as a result.
To this day, I would imagine most Croats leaving Croatia and Bosnia are the better ones in terms of IQ, work ethic, good ideas, virtue, entrepreneurship, creativity and so forth. Without those positive qualities, they wouldn’t have a way to make a living abroad. This is the general perception among all Croats I have ever spoken to. Anecdotally, 100% of the Croats I know in the West are upper-middle class, well-earning, virtuous, leader-like citizens of their adopted countries.
Mate Rimac, the “Croatian Elon Musk,” is developing his ground-breaking electric cars in Croatia proper, but, according to himself, to great difficulty. Apparently it takes an Elon Musk to run a new business in Croatia. The task is not meant for mere mortals, it appears.
Is the situation the same in Poland and Russia? Pavel Durov, the Russian Mark Zuckerberg, left Russia in 2014 and vowed never to come back. “[Russia] is incompatible with Internet business at the moment.” It’s unlikely that you will be able to recall any names of famous Polish people (unless you happen to be Polish); I can however direct you to Zbigniew Brzezinski, who by now possesses quite a reputation as a political scientist and geostrategist. He is Polish-American, though, mind you. Luke Nosek was born in a small Polish village, but he co-founded PayPal in California. If you ever visit the graduate faculties of major western universities, you will probably be inundated with funny Slavic names and Eastern European accents.
I am not describing a new phenomenon: “brain drain” is well-known and nearing the point of cliché. Few people, however, have studied the history and fully grasped the magnitude of brain drain from Eastern Europe. Apple has 115,000 employees. If they lose Steve Jobs, they only lose 0.0008% of their employees, but potentially up to 100% of their future value, productivity, and creativity. If they lose one sweatshop worker in China, they lose 0.0008% of their employees, and probably about 0.0008% of their future value. If one Steve Jobs emigrates from your country, your country will not lose the life-time value of an average local, but a life-time value that is several orders of magnitude higher than the average, as well as an uncountable prize of glory, pride, culture, tourism, and admiration. If your country loses all of its Steve Jobs’, then the next 20% of the right end of the capability and virtue bell curve, your country will lose far more than 20% of its possible quality and value.
In fact, going by Pareto, it is more like a staggering 80%. If it’s 15% of the best people lost, then it’s 60% of possible value. Even if only 5-10%, this corresponds to 20-40%, enough to savagely cripple a country in historical terms. If this is what’s happened to Eastern Europe, it would explain why Eastern Europeans have an inferiority complex relative to Western Europe that is comically outsized when compared to historical attitudes and current realities.
The unemployment rates in many Eastern European countries are mind-boggling. Above 40% in Bosnia and Herzegovina. About 25% in Greece. In many countries (Russia, Macedonia, Croatia, Ukraine), only slightly more than half of the population is employed. Lots of breath is wasted east of Vienna figuring out ways to increase employment, increase wages, improve education – basically how to become more like the West. The solutions tend to be reminiscent of Cargo Cults.
Instead of implementing the positive aspects of Western society (for example, free enterprise, virtue, thrift, and start-up culture), they tend to implement the more negative ones (massive welfare states, too-holy-for-its-own-good progressivism). Nothing improves, and nobody is any wiser as to why.
Why the West even has room for all these non-Western immigrants is the apocalyptic flip-side of the Eastern European brain drain. There wouldn’t be open positions for Eastern European professors, engineers, entrepreneurs, etc. if the native Westerners weren’t failing to reproduce in large numbers. Brain drain not only destroys the functioning of the source country by sucking away the best people, but also represents a symptom of suicide of the recipient country. Healthy countries don’t need talent from abroad because they produce it themselves – but that doesn’t happen when your national fertility rate is below 1.5 (see: Germany).
If Eastern Europeans and their leaders are serious about improving Eastern European civilization, they have to give up the Cargo Cult of the West and either (a) supply a coordination mechanism that would allow large numbers of high quality emigrants to return to their homelands simultaneously (to prevent individual burn-out upon return) or (b) implement the hard and unpopular aspects of Western civilization and ignore the easy and popular ones. Since (b) is not definitely going to happen without a full-fledged restoration of effective government, it comes down to trying to set up a Ministry of Repatriation. Until then, improvement is a pipe dream and the immediate reality is going to remain mediocrity.