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Individual motives and structural factors determining German – Dutch labor mobility : free movement of persons: fact or fiction?

Blokker, Stephanie (S.E.V.) (2010) Individual motives and structural factors determining German – Dutch labor mobility : free movement of persons: fact or fiction?

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Abstract:After the establishment of the EEC, in 1957, there were several goals to be achieved, the most important of them was: free movement of persons between the EEC member states. One single market could not be achieved while limitations to workforce mobility persisted. On the seventh of February, 1992 the ‘Maastricht’ treaty was signed, the treaty completed the Single Market with the 'four freedoms' of: movement of goods, services, people and money. Setting of the research question The establishment of the European Union provided the working population with the legal right for mobility. However as the figures from Eurostat show, just the legal right is not enough to support a labor mobility decision, the decision needs to be supported and supplemented with other factors at influence of the labor mobility decision. In order to find out which other factors influenced the labor mobility decision, the following research question is set: - What are the main motivational factors for German-Dutch labor mobility? The theoretic framework In order to answer the research question the theoretic framework of Stalker (1994, 2008) is set as a basic framework. His theory consists out of three constructs, the individual approach, the structural perspective and the network effects. According to Stalker (1994) his human capital approach, named the individual approach considers each commuter as a rational human being who assesses the available destination and chooses the optimum combination, the commuter is expected to make a cost -/- benefit calculation. Next to the rational cost -/- benefit calculation the individual mobility decision is also influenced by individual and household characteristics. The structural perspective sees, according to Stalker (1994, 2008), people’s fate determined ultimately by structures: social, economic and political. Structural factors can be seen as pushing emigrants from their homes and pulling them to their destinations and are represented by a push-pull model, first developed by Lee (1966), and the environmental factors. Furthermore Stalker (1994, 2008) brings forward the fact that individuals or families cannot make decisions independent of the structures in which they find themselves. Nor do structures exist independently of individuals, who themselves help create and reshape their political and economic environment. Mobility networks thus represent according to Stalker (2004) the combination between the individual approach and the structural perspective, because of the synergy between those approach I expect network effects to be mediating on the ultimate mobility decision. Motivational factors for mobility By conducting 12 face-to-face interviews data on mobility was gathered. After analyzing these data the conclusion can be research that labor mobility is trough the individual approach, stimulated by household characteristics, individual characteristics and the cost -/- benefit calculation of the individual approach. The most important individual motive is the one, which generates the labor mobility thought, this is the individual push. The initial individual push consists out of the following motives for mobility; educational level, family composition and breadwinner situation. Next to the initial individual motives of influence on the labor mobility decision, there are two other individual motives important in the decision to commute these are; in order of importance; border experience and employment situation. Migration is life and progress – permanence is stagnation (Ernst Georg Ravenstein) 4 Next to the former motives named, Bonin et al. (2008), Zimmermann and Zaiceva (2008), Sorm and Terrell(1999) and Lehman et al.(2008) came up with one more individual characteristic expected to be of influence, to be known as age. Age came forward as an mediating variable. This fact was also presented in the theory of Hunt (2000). Because of age persons see the situation differently and also respond differently to the push-/-pull factors and the environmental factors presented to them. Next to the individual motives the structural factors also influence the decision to commute. The most important social factor is: attractive working climate! The other social factors mentioned were all less important, in order of importance these are; good working conditions, bad working conditions, discrimination and bullying. Of the eight economic factors identified, four factors are of little influence on the mobility decision, these are in order of importance; wage differentials, loss of health, education and availability of jobs. There are however four factors that seem to be of great influence on the German-Dutch labor mobility decision, these are; lack of career prospects, career prospects, not enough jobs and higher pay. After discussing the social and economic factors there are two political factors left. Of the two political factors only the pull factor tax and social security laws are important. After discussing the push- and pull factors derived from Lee (1966) the ‘politics’ factor should also be considered from a structural perspective. Politics deals with policies and unions. These consist of the five environmental factors; unions, industrial, governmental, intergovernmental and inter-institutional policies influencing the decision to commute. Of these only two factors presented to be important in influencing the general mobility decision, these are; intergovernmental policies and most important governmental policies. The governmental policies are related to schooling subsidy, employment, taxes, mortgage interest calculation, competency certification, and the working conditions. The intergovernmental policies mentioned are of particular influence on the German-Dutch labor mobility, are the policies related to social health care and pension. Next to the individual motives, the mediating factor of age and the structural factors there is one construct that needs to be addressed and that is the network effects. The network effects are divided into four different networks, in order of importance and effect; professional network, employment agencies, friends and family. The effects of family and friends networks were in this research more supportive in nature, whereas the professional network and the employment agency network possessed far greater effects. These effects were truly mediating because they presented an access into working abroad. Labor mobility: fact or fiction? Labor mobility can have a major positive impact on reaching the aims of the Lisbon Agenda. Mobility leads to a better match between the demand and supply of skills. Furthermore mobility can counter the negative demographic trends by replacement mobility of young people. Besides economic and demographic aspects, a number of social aspects are strongly connected to mobility, mobility will bring about stronger integration of Europe. Despite all the presumed positive effects of mobility and the motives and factors supporting mobility, mobility figures are still low. Free movement of persons is at the moment still fiction. Migration is life and progress – permanence is stagnation (Ernst Georg Ravenstein) 5 Despite the basic legal right, provided with the setting of the ‘Maastricht treaty’ and the multiple individual motives and structural factors of influence on the labor mobility decision, there are still barriers to the labor mobility decision. The European Union has installed a law to guarantee free movement of persons. The one basic factor the legal right is in place, but the underlying country specific laws are thwarting the one basic law. Some of the negative structural factors are forming barriers for commuting. This fact, makes achieving the Lisbon Strategy of 2000, aimed at making the EU the most competitive economy in the world very difficult. Recommendations In order to increase the labor mobility figures and achieve the figures laid down in the Lisbon Agenda Tassinopoulos and Werner (1999) state that further conditions need to be met. In order to achieve this several measures need to be taken. These measures will be presented in the form of recommendations. In setting policies it is important to remember that different groups of commuters respond differently to the implemented policies. In order to make policies effective, it is important to know which mobility flows they stimulate, if they are supported by unions and if these unions have had any influence in establishing certain policies. Furthermore it is important to remember on which commuter the policy has most effect, are these the commuters opted for? After assessing the former general issues and setting a target population the following (inter-) governmental policies, aimed at lifting the barriers, need to be laid down. In order to optimize mobility to increase welfare by identifying and mobilizing the economic component of the process the following measures can be taken according to Bonin et al. (2008), Eures and Euregio: - Strengthening the institutional preconditions of mobility on the labor market - Developing mobility-friendly educational policies - Creating effective information and social networks - Easing mobility barriers stemming from the diversity of national social protection and qualification systems; (EURES / EUREGIO) Next to the inter-governmental European coordinating policies that need to be laid down, an aligned package of governmental policies needs to be enforced. In order to stimulate migration and mobility between Germany and the Netherlands the following subjects need to be addressed in setting the governmental mobility policies: - The administrative burden of sickness benefit insurances need to be decreased. - The company pension facilities need to be freely transferable - The pension ages need to be equalized - The tax regulations have to become more transparent - The child support regulations differ over countries within the EU By implementing these recommendations most barriers will be lifted and mobility will really become unrestricted. Then free mobility of workers will be a fact, because they will no longer be constricted by laws and legislations that provide burdens and blockages.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:Business Administration MSc (60644)
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