The Economic Crisis As a Driver of Cross-Border Labour Mobility? a Multi Method Study for the Case of the Central European Region.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 09:15
Location: Hörsaal III (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Laura WIESBOCK, University of Vienna, Austria
This paper discusses labour mobility from the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia to Austria during the period before and after the economic crisis of 2008/09. Building up on the TRANSLAB research project, I will illustrate various facets of the interregional labour market in the Central European Region (CENTROPE): How did the crisis affect economic and social inequalities between the subregions of CENTROPE? How did the crisis affect labour mobility from the border regions of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia to Austria? To what extent has the socio-economic composition of cross-border commuters and the mode of their labour market integration changed after 2008/09?

In order to answer these questions I draw upon a mixed method approach using
(1) Eurostat regional macro-economic data,
(2) National labour market statistics by the Austrian Unemployment Service,
(3) 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 and
(4) 20 expert interviews with European Employment Services (EURES) employees, business owners and local political leaders in this region.

Empirically we will see that, due to the gradual opening of the Austrian labour market from 2004 to 2011, flows of cross-border commuters have steadily increased. Since 2009 the social composition of cross-border commuters has changed as well. We can observe an increasing number of workers seeking employment in Austria who are most vulnerable during the crisis: the young, the lowly educated and female workers. The expert interviews show that besides macro-economic conditions like wage level and unemployment rate and current political developments (e.g. in Hungary), meso and micro factors like transport infrastructure, urban structure in the border region, as well as family and personal relations, play an important role in affecting the flow of cross-border commuters.