Cross-Border Labour Commuting in the Central European Region: Emerging Patterns and Implications

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 11:30
Location: Hörsaal II (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Laura WIESBOCK, University of Vienna, Austria
This paper examines intra-European cross-border labour mobility, taking the Central European Region (Centrope) as an exemplary instance. Centrope covers large parts of Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. This region has a long history of cross-border mobility and social exchange, from Habsburg Monarchy to postwar period and after 1989. Several years after the fall of the Iron Curtain a process of European re-integration began which led to the accession of post-socialist countries into the EU. Since May 1st 2011 all citizens are given the freedom to seek employment according to their skills in Austria.

My aim is to portray current patterns of cross-border labour commuting and its implications through

(1) A longitudinal survey on commuters (N=1.345) and non-commuters (N=1.334) residing in the regions of the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary bordering on Austria,

(2) 20 expert interviews with labour market experts, mayors and business owners in the border regions and

(3) 10 narrative interviews with cross-border commuters.

Mobility of labour is one of the main aims of the Centrope strategy 2013+. Yet the actual patterns and implications of mobility in this region have not sufficiently been subject to academic research so far. Literature on the impacts of labour mobility is predominantly focused on economic interests, e.g. the labour market outcomes, the influence on the wage-setting in the recipient local economy, the extent of remittances or the recruitment costs for low-skilled temporary workers. Favell (2008) has called for more micro level work on the human face of migration – the lives, experiences and networks of this new migration in Europe. Therefore I want to fill this gap.

The empirical data is gained in the course of the research project TRANSLAB, funded by the Vienna Science and Technology Fund WWTF (2012-2015) at the Department of Sociology, University of Vienna.