International Handbook on the Economics of Migration
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International Handbook on the Economics of Migration

Edited by Amelie F. Constant and Klaus F. Zimmermann

Migration economics is a dynamic, fast-growing research area with significant and rising policy relevance. While its scope is continually extending, there is no authoritative treatment of its various branches in one volume. Written by 44 leading experts in the field, this carefully commissioned and refereed Handbook brings together 28 state-of-the-art chapters on migration research and related issues.
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Chapter 7: Labor mobility in an enlarged European Union

Martin Kahanec


The freedom of movement of workers is one of the four fundamental pillars of economic integration in the European Union (EU), which also includes the free mobility of capital, goods and services. A central objective of free mobility is to enable EU citizens to seek employment, and any social benefits attached with it, in any of the EU member states. From the economic perspective free labor mobility improves the allocative efficiency of EU labor markets, thus buttressing the EU’s economy and alleviating some of its demographic challenges (Kahanec and Zimmermann, 2010; Zimmermann, 2005). Yet, with the process of EU enlargement expanding this freedom to new member states, free labor mobility constitutes one of the most sensitive, and often challenged, freedoms in the EU. The controversies surrounding the freedom of movement of labor culminated when Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia, referred to as the EU10, joined the EU in 2004 and carried on in 2007 when Bulgaria and Romania, the EU2, followed suit.

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