Expanding the Knowledge Base of European Labour Migration Policies

Gaps in labour supply and ageing populations are prompting many European governments to expand temporary labour migration programmes. Yet a growing body of research on “migrant networks” implies that such policy interventions can have two types of unexpected impacts. First, flows of information and resources through migrant networks can generate “chain” migration outside of legal programmes. And second, migrant networks can influence decisions to switch from temporary to permanent stay.

This 4-year project aims to expand the knowledge base of future labour migration policies, through:

  1. Contributing to knowledge on how migrant networks can influence the impact of labour migration programmes of patterns of mobility. This involves original empirical research into the impact of expanded labour migration programmes on – respectively – mobility and settlement, focusing on the intervening variable of migration networks (the “meso” level). The meso-level analysis will be situated within a broader model specifying the influence of micro- and macro-factors, including the socio-economic and political factors in source countries which generate migration flows.
  2. Promoting the transfer of this knowledge to European policy-makers. This requires addressing two sets of obstacles: (a) Scientific impediments to translating meso-level variables into wieldy models. The project explores how the interface between philosophy/economics and new US economics approaches can help model network effects. (b) Socio-political factors which may create resistance to incorporating new knowledge in the field of migration. The project will analyse how these variables shape patterns of knowledge transfer in the UK, Germany, and the European Commission. The analysis of knowledge transfer will be complemented by an analysis of the domestic and international factors shaping policy responses in European receiving countries.

The project will be carried out by a multidisciplinary, international team, hosted at the Hamburg Institute of International Economics, and includes the following members: a UK philosopher/political scientist (team leader), a Romanian economist, a German social geographer/sociologist and two PhD students yet to be selected.

Read more about our scientific objectives.