PUBLI : Fihel, A. and Kaczmarczyk, P. 2023. Emigration From Post-Communist Central Europe After 1989 Interpreted Within the Aspirations/​Capabilities Framework. Comparative Population Studies. 48, (Oct. 2023).

Abstract : In the period of post-commu­nist tran­si­tion, Central Europe witnessed complex and multi­fa­ceted mobi­lity processes ; perma­nent outmi­gra­tion, of an ethnic or labour-related nature, coexisted with tempo­rary, seasonal, or cross-border move­ments and an increa­sing influx of forei­gners. To study these complex processes, we have chosen to apply a holistic and compre­hen­sive approach, rather than limit concep­tual consi­de­ra­tions to one theory of migra­tion deter­mi­nants. We focus on eleven post-commu­nist coun­tries that joined the Euro­pean Union (EU-11) and on the period exten­ding from around 1989, cove­ring the EU’s east­ward enlar­ge­ment, to the present. The aim of this study is twofold : first, we propose a general concep­tual frame­work, based on the aspirations/​capabilities approach, to present the main deter­mi­nants of emigra­tion from this part of the Euro­pean conti­nent. Second, in rela­tion to each deter­mi­nant, we formu­late research ques­tions postu­lated by selected theo­ries of inter­na­tional migra­tion and present the evidence, based on exis­ting empi­rical studies, that addresses these ques­tions. The paper contri­butes to the lite­ra­ture by provi­ding a broad inter­pre­ta­tion of post-tran­si­tion mobi­lity and poin­ting to commonly over­looked expla­na­tory factors. We high­light the impor­tance of economic factors that have enhanced and directed the outward migra­tion from the EU-11 to selected EU member states and selected economic sectors ; in parti­cular, as regards capa­bi­li­ties, these factors include the lifting of labour market restric­tions, high demand in the secon­dary sector of labour markets, and the roles of migra­tion networks and the migra­tion industry. Emphasis is also placed on aspi­ra­tional factors, such as labour market failures and the substan­tial aspi­ra­tional gap resul­ting from impro­ve­ments in high educa­tional attain­ment in the coun­tries of origin. The aspirations/​capabilities approach serves well as a general frame­work of migra­tion deter­mi­nants, but its expla­na­tory power is enhanced by refe­rence to other, more specific theo­ries of migra­tion. We show that a combi­na­tion of the comple­men­tary approaches provides a more refined and in-depth picture of migra­tion from the region.

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