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Labour Mobility and Labour Market Adjustment in the EU


  • Alfonso Arpaia

    (European Commission)

  • Aron Kiss

    (European Commission)

  • Balazs Palvolgyi

    (European Commission)

  • Alessandro Turrini

    (European Commission, IZA and Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano)


This paper assesses macroeconomic determinants of labour mobility and its role in the adjustment to asymmetric shocks. First, the paper develops stylised facts of mobility at the national and sub-national levels in the EU. Then, it explores the macroeconomic determinants of bilateral migration flows. Econometric evidence suggests that labour mobility increases significantly when a country joins the EU. While euro area membership seems not to be associated with an overall rise in the magnitude of mobility flows, workers do appear more ready to move from countries where unemployment is high to those where it is lower. Thirdly, the paper looks at mobility as a channel of economic adjustment by means of a VAR analysis in the vein of Blanchard and Katz (1992). Results indicate that mobility absorbs about a quarter of an asymmetric shock within 1 year. Movements in response to shocks have almost doubled since the introduction of the euro. Real wages have also become more responsive to asymmetric shocks during the same period.

Suggested Citation

  • Alfonso Arpaia & Aron Kiss & Balazs Palvolgyi & Alessandro Turrini, 2016. "Labour Mobility and Labour Market Adjustment in the EU," Development Working Papers 396, Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano, University of Milano, revised 10 Jun 2016.
  • Handle: RePEc:csl:devewp:396

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Angana Banerji & Bergljot B Barkbu & James A John & Tidiane Kinda & Sergejs Saksonovs & Hanni Schoelermann & Tao Wu, 2015. "Building a Better Union; Incentivizing Structural Reforms in the Euro Area," IMF Working Papers 15/201, International Monetary Fund.
    2. Terry Gregory & A.M. Salomons & Ulrich Zierahn, 2016. "Racing With or Against the Machine? Evidence from Europe," Working Papers 16-05, Utrecht School of Economics.
    3. Constant, Amelie F. & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2017. "Challenged by migration: Europe's options," MERIT Working Papers 018, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    4. Kahanec, Martin & Guzi, Martin, 2016. "How Immigrants Helped EU Labor Markets to Adjust during the Great Recession," IZA Discussion Papers 10443, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item


    Labour mobility; geographic mobility; migration; gravity; adjustment; asymmetric shocks; optimal currency areas; European Union;

    JEL classification:

    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search

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