Labour mobility in the EU and the US

Lewis Dijkstra, European Commission
Zuzana Gakova, European Commission

This presentation compares the labour mobility between states in the US and the regions of the European Union. It looks at the destination of working age populations moving in the US and the EU. A number of differences between the US and the EU, including language, culture, labour legislation and the fact that the US is a federal state help to explain the lower mobility in the EU. Moreover, free movement of labour in the EU is only a recent phenomenon and does not apply equally to everyone. The analysis shows, however, that given the share of the US working age population who change their residence every year, labour mobility plays an important role in reducing the differences in economic development between the states. In the EU, the tendency for workers and people in general to move to another EU country or to another region of the same country is much lower. This applies to both the Western and Eastern Member. Thus, labour mobility plays a smaller role in reducing the disparities between EU regions which needs to be considered when designing public policies to reduce regional disparities.

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Presented in Session 59: EU session on migration - Mobility and migration: problems, projections and policy proposals