Understanding Barriers Towards Youth Migration within the EU

Thursday, 2 July 2015: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
TW2.1.01 (Tower Two)
Leydi Johana Breuls, Utrecht University School of Economics, Utrecht, Netherlands
Youth has disproportionally borne the economic adversities caused by the economic crisis of 2008 that asymmetrically affected countries and sectors in the EU; during the crisis migration has been the only option of finding a job for many young Europeans (Kahanec & Fabo, 2013). The ability of the EU to deal with economic challenges is dependent on the degree of mobility of its labor force, which could be enhanced by the temporal nature of youth mobility (Kahanec & Fabo, 2013). Kahanec & Fabo (2013) study the factors that determine the decision of young Europeans to move and to stay in the destination country. They also register percentages of young Europeans who did not move in response to different incentives (work or education), which makes up more than 50% of the respondents in all cases but one. However, this decision to stay is not researched in much detail and the struggles and opportunities of young migrants often differ from other migrant groups (UN, 2013). Therefore, this paper researches the decision of young Europeans to stay in the country of origin extensively.

The main question of the paper is: What are (perceived) barriers towards intra-European migration under young Europeans?

The report based on a questionnaire carried out for the special Eurobarometer 337 (wave 72.5) states that in the EU-27 countries about 17% of all citizens have a desire to work abroad sometime in the future. For young people and highly educated people this figure would even be higher (Eurobarometer 337 report, 2010). Youth migration in this paper is seen as all individuals migrating (residing in another country than the country of origin for at least a year) from the age of 18 up to and including the age of 24. This age group constitutes the highest migration rates and the highest concentration of migrants (UN, 2011; see Kahanec & Fabo, 2013).

While the literature is long on examining the outcomes of immigration, literature is short on estimating the determinants of immigration, state Clark, Hatton & Williamson (2007). Clark et al. (2007) create a heuristic framework following the tradition of Sjaastad (1962), Borjas (1987) and Chiswick (2000). The previous models included a number of parameters: mean income, migration costs, skill transferability, and level of schooling. Clark et al. (2007) add to these models that migration costs are divided into different categories: individual-specific costs, direct costs, costs from quantitative restrictions on immigration and costs from skill-selective immigration policies. They also control for the age structure of the source country, as for any individual, the present value of migration as represented by the difference between these income streams, net of costs, will depend on the length of working life remaining (Clark et al. 2007). Instead of only looking at people that actually migrate, this paper also looks into those that don’t migrate. The present paper wants to detect the theoretical and empirical differences between (perceived) costs and (perceived) losses, that could entail barriers towards migration for young Europeans, creating a model that includes the option of non-migration.

When youth migrate they tend to improve both their own financial situation and the economic situation of their families through income and remittances. The underlying causes of youth migration are personal considerations, socio-economic circumstances, political situation in the country of origin, income, and living standard differences between the country of origin and the destination country (UN, 2013). Therefore, types of migration occurring in the age range 18-24 are student mobility, employment migration, family reunification, and humanitarian migration. These findings are based on migration at the global level, whereas migration flows of young Europeans have not yet been well documented (Kahanec & Fabo, 2013). Still, Europe has the second largest population of young migrants (15-24 years of age), with 7.7. million or 29% percent (UN, 2011).

Bodvarsson & Van den Berg (2009) list a number of barriers towards migration, which they call ‘stay’ and ‘stay away’ factors. Barriers are perceived or experience hurdles towards emigration from the origin country and/or immigration to a destination country. Stay factors are family ties, friendships, social status, cultural familiarity, employment, property, certainty, and political privileges. Stay away factors are language or cultural barriers, discrimination, low social status, unemployment, low wages, lack of political rights, unfamiliarity, uncertainty, war, and crime. These stay and stay away factors create the opportunity to add to the understanding of (youth) migration and immobility as a nuance of the initial assumptions made by the economic models described above. In line with Bodvarsson & Van den Berg (2009), I expect that there are also types of stayers e.g. social stayers, cultural or language stayers, status stayers, amongst others, which will be advanced in this paper. These different types of stayers have different scores on the stay and stay away factors.

The dataset that is used in this paper is the Special Eurobarometer 337, wave 72.5 (carried out in November and December 2009 in all EU27 countries). The dataset includes information on economic and demographic characteristics of the respondents and information on mobility intentions and constraints. The dataset has a sample size around 1,000 observations per country, using probabilistic random sampling. Items that are of interest in determining youth migration are: future plans of working in another EU country, the time frame in which migration is likely to happen, the type of employment in the destination country, reasons for migration, steps taken to prepare for emigration, discouraging factors towards migration, and practical obstacles towards migration. These items are controlled for age, gender, educational level, and employment status. The methods of analysis carried out are regression in combination with secondary analysis of migration policies at the EU level and at the member states’ level.

Understanding why young Europeans stay in the country of origin and decide not to migrate is an interesting theoretical and empirical endeavor as well as a possibility to inform policymakers at the EU and EU member states’ level.