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TOKTEN Lebanon History

Long before the war, Lebanon was considerate a country of emigration.

The emigration of Lebanese abroad has taken place in successive stages since the 19th century. These waves of emigration have concentrated first to the Americas, West Africa and Australia. Lebanese emigration was partly redirected to the expanding oil producing countries in the Arab region as of the 1960s.

The outbreak of the war in 1975 caused a massive outflow of migrants. It has been estimated that the net migration during the 1975-1990 period amounted to around 900,000 persons or about one-third of the total population. Of these emigrants, 40 percent went to the Arab Gulf countries and the other (especially Lebanese young professional) directed towards technologically advanced countries like the U.S.A., Canada, France, and a few other European countries.

Men constituted the majority of people who migrated during this period (85%), and this applied to all age groups. Most emigrants belong to the professional and skilled categories of the labor force. 47 percent of the economically active emigrants belong to this category. This ratio is seven times greater than the one prevalent in the total population. In other words, the emigration of Lebanese during the war was not only massive; it included a high proportion of highly qualified individuals thus constituting a major brain drain phenomenon.

Lebanese youth, who form more than one fifth of the population and almost one third of the labor force, are affected disproportionately by international migration. The highest proportion of those who migrated in recent years is in the age group 25-29 years followed by the 20-24 year age group. Since youth are rapidly achieving higher education status, international migration is becoming more of the brain drain type than migration of unskilled and semi-skilled workers.

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