Intra-EU migration: Shedding light on drivers, corridors and the relative importance of migrant characteristics

Miriam Mack, Sarah Roeder, Katrin Marchand & Melissa Siegel


Much of the existing literature on intra-EU mobility focuses on labour migration from the new East-ern to the old Member States and neglects the social and emotional dimensions of mobility and their interrelatedness with economic drivers. Using a dataset consisting of 98 interviews conducted in four destination countries (Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK) with intra-EU migrants originating from EU15 countries (59 individuals) and CEE countries (39 individuals), this paper contributes to the understanding of the nature of individual mobility decision-making and the diversity of reasons that drive migration within the EU. Specifically, it provides an in-depth analysis on how intra-EU mobility decision-making relates to specific migrant characteristics such as country of origin, age, skill level and gender and the dynamics inherent to specific migration corridors. The qualitative data is analysed in the light of existing theories of mobility and their relative importance in predicting intra-EU mobility. The results show that intra-EU migration decision-making is a highly complex process and is seldom based on one specific driver. Rather, the decision-making process is, in most cases, based on several interrelated factors beyond purely economic considerations. This paper contributes to the understanding of emotional and social considerations in migration decision-making, which have largely been neglected in existing literature. Importantly, it also contributes to the understanding of different intra-EU migration corridors, such as the East-West, East-South, South-North and West-West corridors, which remain relatively under-researched, and how these relate to specific migrant characteristics. Understanding the migration decision-making of individuals is of pivotal importance for both scholars and specifically policymakers to attract and retain talent.

JEL Classification Codes: J61, R23, F22, J15, J23, 015

Keywords: High-skilled migration, Migration decision-making, EU mobility, EU migration corridors