Rethinking Labour Migration Channels: the Experience of Latvia from EU Accession to Economic Recession

David McCollum, Sergei Shubin, Elina Apsite, Zaiga Krisjane

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    20 Citations (Scopus)


    With the onset of recession in the UK in 2008, it was assumed that immigration from other European Union countries would decline. However, this has been shown to not be the case, with the volume of new arrivals from most of the East-Central European ‘Accession 8’ countries actually increasing. The focus of this paper is Latvia, a country that had a relatively buoyant economy following its accession to the European Union in 2004 but that now has one of the highest unemployment and emigration rates in Europe. Interviews carried out with labour providers, policymakers, and employers are used to examine the labour migration channels that reflect and structure labour migration flows from Latvia and how these have evolved in the period between accession and recession. The findings indicate that intermediaries such as labour providers, the state, and informal social networks exert considerable influence on the nature of labour migration flows and that the relative importance of these channels displays significant temporal and spatial variations. This research represents an original contribution to the literature on labour migration channels by focusing on movements from a low-wage to higher-wage economy in the context of the introduction of free movement of labour between Eastern and Western Europe and the later onset of severe global recession. These findings are of relevance to how labour market channels are theorised and suggest that analysts need to be sensitive to how the function served by intermediaries, and their influence on migration systems, evolves over time and across space.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)688–702
    JournalPopulation, Space and Place
    Issue number6
    Early online date26 Apr 2013
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013


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