Trends, Patterns and Control
Edited by Heinz Fassmann, Max Haller and David Lane
Chapter 4: Understanding Migration Decisions in Eastern and Western Europe: Perceived Costs and Benefits of Mobility
Didier Fouarge and Peter Ester INTRODUCTION 4.1 With the accession of ten new member states to the European Union in May 2004, the issue of geographic and labour market mobility within Europe has taken a very prominent position on the EU policy agenda. The fact that the year 2006 was officially chosen as the ‘European Year of Workers’ Mobility’ reflects the policy saliency of the mobility issue. It is evident that the mobility question is here to stay in Europe. The idea in economics – but also in the broader social sciences – is that there are potential gains to both geographic and job mobility. Such gains are derived, in the first place, from the relocation of labour from regions with a surplus of workers to regions with labour shortages. In the second place, such gains result from a more efficient allocation of labour to activities and regions where they are (likely to be) more productive. However, despite large differences in economic performance across regions of Europe, geographic mobility has remained at a relatively low level. According to a recent study by the European Commission, the share of non-nationals in the EU amounts to 5.5 per cent of the total population in 2004 (European Commission 2006, 210). The large majority is from outside the EU, followed by nationals from other EU15 countries. Only 0.2 per cent is from one of the new member states, but relatively larger shares are observed in Ireland, Austria and Germany (European Commission 2006). The non-national Dutch population,...
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