Labour Market Hierarchies between Intra-EU Migrants: Why do Mobile Workers from the EU-West Obtain Better Jobs and Wages than those from the EU-East?

Janine Leschke, Silvana Weiss

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


This article examines hierarchies of recent intra-EU migrants from EU-West and EU-East countries in Western European labour markets. We use data from the European Labour Force Survey 2014 special module on migrants and their descendants of the to analyse how different skill levels, reasons for migration and, concurrently, different job-search strategies shape hierarchies in labour market outcomes as captured by wages and occupational status. Reasons for moving are expected to vary by push and pull factors and in particular by reservation wages, with EU-West migrants being more likely to move for career reasons and EU-East migrants for employment opportunities more generally. Our analyses reveal that recent EU-West migrants have jobs with higher wages and higher occupational status than recent EU-East migrants. The former are more likely to be highly skilled and more often had already found employment before migrating through job ads or direct employer contacts. EU-East migrants, by contrast, are more often medium skilled and found employment after migrating by using social networks. Altogether, different skill levels, migration motives and job-finding methods account for differences in wages and occupational status between the two groups. However, even when all of these factors – as well as individual and labour market factors – are controlled for in the regression analyses, the labour market hierarchies remain significant, indirectly indicating discrimination. Overall, our results show that free labour mobility creates new hierarchies between mobile EU-West and EU-East workers in Western Europe.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2022
Number of pages46
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Event19th IMISCOE Annual Conference: Migration and Time: Temporalities of Mobility, Governance, and Resistance - Oslo, Norway
Duration: 29 Jun 20221 Jul 2022
Conference number: 19


Conference19th IMISCOE Annual Conference
Internet address


  • Intra-eu mobility
  • Job search
  • Migrant
  • Migrants reasons
  • Mobile EU workers
  • Occupational status
  • Social networks
  • Wages

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