ISSN 2300-1682

Central and Eastern European Migration Review

Special Section

Abstract  

This editorial introduction sets the scene for the special section of 6 papers on new migration trends in the Western Balkans. The paper is in 2 parts. The first reviews the history and geography of migration from the 6 countries of the region (WB6). The 5 successor states of the former Yugoslavia (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia) have a similar migration profile, shaped by postwar labour migration to Germany, Austria and Switzerland, whilst Albania’s mass migration is more recent – since 1990 – and directed mainly to Italy and Greece. Whilst labour migrations dominated the 1960s and 1970s (the 1990s in Albania) and refugee movements accompanied the break-up of Yugoslavia, recent migration trends are more diverse, including especially highly educated young people and students, as well as transit migrants from the Middle East and other source countries. Most WB6 countries have policies to manage their migrations and mobilise return and the diasporas for development but, in practice, these measures are not effective. The second part of this introductory paper provides an integrated overview of the 6 papers, sequenced in a way that moves from the general (covering the region as a whole) to the particular situations of individual countries regarding such topics as the changing profile of migration, student migration, return migration and gender perspectives.

Abstract  

The global Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated the vulnerable situation of people on the move and other migrant groups at a time when the usual spatial routes were disrupted and mobility was restricted for much of the world’s population. However, while mobility was halted for some groups of migrants (e.g., in reception centres), migrant workers faced somewhat contradictory treatment by different governments, reflecting the ‘need’ for migrant workers in certain sectors of the economy. The article provides an analysis of such paradoxes in European migration and mobility policies. It focuses on the situation of people on the move on the so-called ‘Balkan route’ and two categories of temporary workers in the European Union: posted workers and agricultural workers. Its main argument is that, despite hierarchies of different mobility practices, both groups remained largely marginalised and such inequalities made some populations structurally vulnerable in different ways.

 

Abstract  

The Western Balkan countries have been faced with a rising outward mobility of health professionals, driven by the increasing demand for this category of worker, especially in European countries. Labour-market imbalances are pushing many health professionals to leave the Western Balkan region. As a consequence, shortages of health professionals are looming and access to health services in the region is put under strain. The purpose of this study is to shed light on the recent pattern of mobility of health professionals from Western Balkan (WB) countries. A gravity model is implemented to analyse the push-and-pull factors of mobility during 2000–2019 and towards European countries. The analysis finds that income differentials between WB and European countries are strong pull factors. Additionally, policy changes in the destination countries shape the mobility patterns and several European countries, especially Germany, have benefited from the mobility of health professionals from WB countries.

 

Abstract  

In this study, we empirically analyse intentions to emigrate from Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), focusing on individual, household, regional and socio-economic determinants, including specific influences relevant to the post-conflict nature of this society. We rely on a series of annual country-representative survey data collected over the period 2006–2010 and the latest repeated survey from 2019. This gives us the possibility to see whether there are changes in observed determinants with a decade’s difference, all investigated through non-linear econometric models. Moreover, we supplement quantitative research with qualitative in-depth interviews to enrich our results with deeper insights collected from both emigrants and potential emigrants in BiH. Our findings indicate that higher intentions to emigrate are linked to typical individual and household conditions: young, educated and low-income respondents all report high intentions to do so. However, the socio-economic environment characterised by economic – and, even more, by political – instability increases these intentions considerably. Our comparative analysis reports that the socio-economic environment has taken primacy over individual characteristics as drivers of emigrations which dominated a decade ago. Conventional thinking that economic drivers of emigration intentions dominate nowadays have not been confirmed. Policymakers should focus on improving primarily political stability as a measure that will decrease emigration intentions in this post-conflict society.

 

Abstract  

Since 1991, Albania has become a fertile terrain for the study of migration and its relationship to development. One aspect of the country’s intense and diverse experience of emigration which has received less attention is the movement of its students into higher education abroad. To what extent does this student emigration constitute a potential brain drain? We answer this question via a mixed-method research endeavour consisting of an online survey (N=651) of Albanian students enrolled in foreign universities and follow-up in-depth interviews (N=21) with a sample of the survey respondents. The survey and interviews were carried out in 2019–2020. The survey collected data on students’ social and academic background, reasons for going abroad to study, life in the host country, attitudes towards returning to Albania and perceived barriers to return. Half of the respondents do not intend to return immediately after graduating. The remainder have a more open or uncertain mindset, including 30 per cent who say they will return only after a period spent working or doing further studies abroad. Those who intend to return, either sooner or later, do so out of a combination of family ties, nostalgia and wanting to ‘give something back’ to their home country. However, the barriers to return are perceived as formidable: low pay, lack of good jobs, corruption and a general feeling that ‘there is no future’ in Albania. The scale of loss of young brains is thus potentially considerable and a major policy concern for the future of the country.

Abstract  

This article addresses the question of what influences the opportunities for social mobility in the context of return migration to Albania from a meso-level perspective. It applies a network-theory-based analysis to 104 qualitative interviews with a diverse sample of returned migrants, conducted in Albania between 2019 and 2022. The interviews are clustered into three categories according to the stated economic need for migration. The analysis shows that the geographical dispersion, the support capacities and the influence of these networks on migration decision-making differ significantly between the three categories. Despite some dynamics, individual network embeddedness reflects the overall socio-economic and ethno-political stratifications of the origin society and distinctively shapes migrants’ modalities and means of migration, the opportunities for resource accumulation abroad and their ability to re-establish themselves after return. Thus, social networks mainly contribute to continuity rather than change in terms of social stratification, even over the course of migration(s) and return(s). Yet, these effects are mediating, not determining, outcomes and are context-dependent. Lastly, network effects differ not only between but also within the categories, depending, for example, on the gender or age of the migrant.

 

Abstract  

Kosovo is a country profoundly shaped by migration. A growing body of literature pays tribute to this. However, up to now, it has barely focused on the implications of return. Female returnees – and especially highly skilled female returnees – are even less likely to be in the focus of research. Against this background, this paper investigates how highly skilled female Kosovars experience migration to North America or Western Europe and their subsequent return to Kosovo. Within this setup, the focus is on the impact of migration on the participants’ gender norms and their attempts to shape those in Kosovo upon return. The results show that all participants experienced their sojourn abroad as empowering. The majority made use of this empowerment and actively fought for gender equality after return. However, resistance by the local population and reintegration issues impeded their engagement, prompting every second participant amongst those interviewed for this study to consider re-emigration. Despite this, two-thirds of the participants stayed and continued their engagement for gender equality but usually in an adapted manner. The paper concludes that highly skilled female return migrants have great – although fragile – potential to promote gender equality in Kosovo.

 

Articles

Abstract  

In recent years, there has been growing interest in the proliferation, rescaling and internalisation of borders. EU citizens who come to work in Norway are registered either with a Fødselsnummer – an identification number designating them as residents of Norway – or with a D-nummer, designating them as temporary migrants in Norway. To be registered with a Fødselsnummer, EU citizens must prove that they intend to live in Norway for at least 6 months, usually with an employment contract of at least 6 months’ duration. EU citizens who are unable to secure long-term employment may not be able to register as residents and may sometimes live with a D-nummer for years. Based on qualitative research with Polish workers and NGOs offering legal advice in Oslo, this article investigates the consequences of being registered with a D-nummer. The article finds that EU citizens with a D-nummer face various, mostly informal, barriers to public healthcare and welfare benefits. Conceptualising the D-nummer as a welfare-bordering technology, the article argues that the identification number system in Norway creates a framework under which precarious work leads to precarious social citizenship. The article offers new insights into the mechanisms of welfare bordering and the stratification between the rights of precarious EU workers and those in secure forms of employment.

 

Abstract  

This article examines the mobility patterns in East–West movement within Europe and challenges the prevailing perception that migration is an act of agency while staying put is seen as having a lack of agency. It argues that staying put can also involve extensive strategies and should be recognised as an active choice. The article utilises Bourdieu’s three types of capital (economic, social and cultural) to understand the strategies employed in both staying put and successful migration. It suggests that individuals can compensate for the absence of one type of capital by leveraging another type; however, it also suggests that, in order to understand mobility space between CEE and Nordic countries, the presence of formalised welfare provision in Nordic countries is an important aspect. The focus of the article is on single mothers, who are considered to be one of the most vulnerable groups in Central and Eastern European societies. Based on 25 interviews with Estonian single mothers, the article suggests that migration often occurs due to a lack of alternative options.

 

Abstract  

The current article contributes to the discussion on the trajectories of the economic integration of immigrants in adverse, informal contexts. Specifically, it explores the processes of the generation and application of business resources among Central Asian migrant entrepreneurs in Russia. This study highlights the crucial and multifaceted importance of former employment for migrant entrepreneurs. With restricted access to resources in Russia, Central Asian migrants deliberately used their workplaces to access business knowledge, networks and financial capital. By applying these resources, they replicated the successful business models of their former employers. This integration path appears to be shaped by the ambivalent forces of informality in the Russian economy.

 

Abstract  

Education is a meritocratic determinant which is perceived as a means to go ahead: the higher one’s education is, the higher one’s social status and income is (or should be). The literature in the field is limited in viewing education abroad as a way of accumulating human capital and valorising on the host labour market to gain an international career. However, education (abroad) can also entail life experiences and travel and a ‘second chance’ at success, where a decision about education abroad is not solely made for the sake of education but is also influenced by other social and political factors. This article sheds light on the different meanings and use of education (abroad) by high-skilled Azerbaijanis who migrate to Poland. Preliminary findings from biographical narrative interviews demonstrate that the meanings of education are more complex, with no single narrative. Pre-migration education is highly emphasised by both the internal and the external environment. Yet, within the migratory trajectory, education is utilised for different purposes, including as a motive for an ‘escape from’ troubles and conflicts in Azerbaijan. This takes place against the backdrop of the specifics of the Polish labour market accompanied by economic growth and facilitating policies, as well as the efforts of migrants to maintain their social class, while trying to outsmart institutional mechanisms in Poland.

 

Abstract  

This article presents a systematic literature review of 84 English-language publications which analysed findings concerning how institutions addressed and moderated different patterns and challenges of migration and mobility within the European right of free movement zone. The synopsis of the publications shows the ignorance of many institutions towards migrating and mobile EU citizens, due to conflicts of interest and the dismissal of responsibilities. The lack of coordination between political levels and the missing implementation of equal rights have exclusionary effects for vulnerable groups and show ambivalences of the European integration process.