Work Packages

WP6 – Countries of origin

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The last three rounds of enlargement of the European Union (2004, 2007, 2013), incorporating 13 new Member States in the east and south of the EU into a new EU-28, had profound effects on mobility patterns to and within the 28 countries of the enlarged European Union.

There is a large body of literature on post-enlargement migration and mobility dynamics, but in general the focus is largely on the target countries for mobile EU citizens. Mobility is mainly mono-directional, from the ‘new’ to the ‘old’ EU. For the most part, salary levels between old and new states have not been adjusted and salary ratios still stand at 3:1 to 7:1. Thus, while there are strong economic incentives to migrate from east to west, there is little economic push toward the other direction.

Despite growing east-west migration within the EU, we do not know a lot about how enlargement and mobility has impacted on the societies of the new Member States. Has Eastern Europe profited from freedom of movement for intra-European migrants, or do economic, social and psychological costs outweigh potential gains? How does intra-European east-west migration impact on the local economy of the sending countries and regions, on families, and on public institutions, e.g. the health or the education system? What role do returning migrants play in the socioeconomic development of their country of origin?

Thus, the overall objective of this work package is to understand the social and economic impacts caused by growing intra-EU mobility in sending countries with a focus on EU Member States in Central and Eastern Europe.

The analysis of the social and economic impacts of mobility in the selected region and countries will be guided by placing mobility patterns in the context of social transformation. Social transformations are understood as fundamental changes in the way society is organised. Post-cold war developments and European integration certainly represent such shifts, especially in the region covered by this work package.

The overarching research questions will be dealt with in three case studies:

Return migration

A significant number of migrants from Central and Eastern Europe who emigrated following the 2004 and 2007 EU enlargements have returned to their countries of origin. The latest Polish census indicates that in March 2011 there were over 170,000 return migrants residing in Poland who left Poland in the post-accession period and came back after spending at least one year abroad. Based on the analysis of the Polish case, this part of the study aims at expanding the current state of knowledge on the labour market effects of return.

Health and education: Impacts of outflows on sending countries

Health and education are among the major areas with the potential to shape standards of living and reduce inequalities. They can be affected by emigration and return migration in different ways, both positive and negative. Mobility can enable the acquisition of new skills and provide financial resources for a household’s human-capital investments, but it can also lead to interrupted schooling and over-qualification. Emigration may also affect health outcomes and care availability in origin countries, especially when carers move away – whether they are care workers or family members with caring responsibilities. The study will focus on a specific sector of care – live-in care for the elderly – and compare the effects of care migration on selected areas of origin in Romania and Slovakia.

The impacts of mobility and commuting in border regions

The third case study concerns the impact of mobility and commuting on border regions. Border regions are of particular interest when examining impacts of free movement of services on related mobility patterns, as trans-border mobility impacts on local economic development and integration of border regions. On the other hand, the prosperity of border regions impacts on other regions and may reinforce or induce social and economic imbalances and inequalities between regions in the countries concerned. The case study on border regions will analyse two economically distinct border regions in Austria: The Austrian-Slovak borer region of Bratislava, and the Austrian-Hungarian border regions of Lake Neusiedl, the first being dominated by the booming automobile cluster near Bratislava and by highly qualified migration from Slovakia to Vienna, and, to a growing degree, from Austria to Bratislava; the second being characterised by a large number of Hungarian commuters working in agriculture and tourism in the Austrian part of the border region. The study will investigate how these dynamics have played out in practice and how policies have responded.

The three case studies will be incorporated into a final study on ways mobilities are organised in the case studies, and their impact on socioeconomic inequality, economic development and social cohesion.