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Labour Market Integration in the Baltic Sea Region: Before and After EU Enlargement

Institute of Migration, Web Reports No. 3

The article is based on a paper presented at the Western Regional Science Association, WRSA 42nd Annual Meeting in Rio Rico, Tucson, Arizona, USA, February 26–March 1, 2003. Elli Heikkilä and Taru Järvinen represent Institute of Migration, Turku, Finland, and Jörg Neubauer and Lars Olof Persson Nordregio, Stockholm, Sweden.

The authors seek to provoke a discussion on the emergence and the potential characteristics of a future common labour market in the Baltic Sea Region. Based on a study of labour force migration from Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland to Sweden and Finland during the past decade, the focus is placed on analysing the integration processes following immigration. The study relies on individual gross-stream data that allows for detailed analysis and for the comparison of labour market careers. As such, the contribution of recent estbound immigrants with differing background characteristics (individual socio-economic assets e.g. level of education, cultural background e.g. country of origin) to economic integration/segregation can be pointed out. In addition, the importance of labour migration in the Baltic Sea Region for different sectors of the old and the emerging new economy will also be discussed.

Supplemented by official statistics, the Swedish pattern is then compared to similar migration characteristics in the context of Finland. To conclude, the findings serve as an input in the evaluation of the future potential of East-to-West migration in the Baltic Sea Region, BSR, its sum, and its characteristics. The discussion is primarily expected to provide further knowledge on our ability to answer questions of major policy relevance on the nature of the future labour shortage; key personnel needed, and on illegal flows.