Intra-European Labor Mobility from Post-Socialist Countries: The Example of Hungarians, Slovaks and Czechs in Austria

Friday, July 18, 2014: 9:15 AM
Room: 419
Oral Presentation
Laura WIESBÖCK , Department of Sociology, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
Raimund HAINDORFER , Department of Sociology, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
Christoph REINPRECHT , Department of Sociology, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
Roland VERWIEBE , Department of Sociology, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
This paper deals with job-search strategies and related labor market outcomes of cross-border commuters residing in the regions of the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary bordering on Austria. This European core 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. However, substantial social inequalities between Central European countries still exist in terms of wages and unemployment. Cross-border mobility on an emerging transnational labor market therefore can be seen as an “individual response” to massive transformations in this region.

So far the given circumstances for participants in this transnational labor market have not been investigated in depth. Our paper aims to close the research gap by pursuing the following research questions: What job search methods do cross-border commuters from Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic use in order to find employment in Austria (1)? What are the labor market outcomes of these job search methods in terms of wages (2)? Theoretically, we build upon a model developed by Aguilera and Massey on the nexus of social networks, job search methods and related labor market outcomes. Methodologically, we use a longitudinal survey on employment careers of cross-border commuters conducted in 2012 (N=2,550). Our results show that human and social capital resources serve as key factors for job finding strategies and successful labor market integration. There are also substantial gender differences and differences related to previous occupational status and migration experience within the group under study. Overall, our results reflect cross-border commuting as a renewed form of social practice in this European core region, which may reduce structural inequalities between Central European countries in the mid-run.