Geographical mobility

Geographical mobility

1.1. Geographical mobility

Geographical mobility is not a widespread phenomenon in Europe. The EB 64.1 survey also reveals a remarkable difference between the countries in terms of mobility level and mobility pattern. Data provided from EB 64.1 was analysed using various indicators.

1.1.1. Number of moves: The level of residential mobility or residential stability in EU Member States is examined through the number of moves Europeans have made after leaving their parental home to start a household of their own. This analysis can be seen also from the percentage of Europeans who have never moved after departing their parental home.

On average, about 17% of Europeans have never moved after leaving their parental home - neither within nor outside their country of origin.

As shown in Figure 1, the national differences are very large, ranging from less than 5% in Sweden, Finland and Denmark to some 40% and greater in Slovakia and Malta respectively. The Nordic countries display the smallest proportion of people that did not move after their first move out of their parental home, while a number of the new Member States (NMS) show high proportions of people not making any subsequent life-course moves. The NMS are not a homogeneous category in this respect - countries such as Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania show greater mobility than, for example, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary.

Figure 1: Percentage of people who have never moved after leaving parental home, by country

1.1.2. Duration of stay: After making their first life-course move (leaving their parental home), some people settle themselves permanently at their new residence, while others change their  residence several times over the next sequences of their life course.

The average stay in each dwelling for the EU25 on average is slightly under 10 years.

There is a broad range across Member States, with above-average durations in southern European countries and in most of the NMS, and shorter durations in Scandinavian countries and in the Netherlands, UK and France. Except for Latvia and Lithuania, all the NMS have an average duration of stay per dwelling that is above the EU average (the EU15 are dispersed around the mean).

Figure 2: Average duration of stay in each dwelling, by country (years)

1.1.3. Past patterns of long distance mobility: An important part of the questionnaire in the 2005 Eurobarometer mobility survey was devoted to the distance involved in past movements since leaving the parental home - whether the move was within the person's own town or city; outside the town or city but within the same region; outside the region but within the same country; or to a country outside the EU.

Broadly speaking, mobility - whether short or long distance - is relatively high in the Nordic countries. By contrast, in most of the NMS and Southern European countries (with the exception of Malta), mobility within or outside the region is relatively low. The two countries with the greatest intra-EU past mobility are Ireland and Luxembourg (followed by Cyprus). The UK, Denmark and Ireland also show a relatively high level of mobility outside the EU.

Table 1: Past mobility, by destination and by country (%)

1.1.4. Mobility intention

There are large differences between EU Member States in terms of expected future mobility. Mobility intention is shown to be highest in those countries with social democratic and liberal welfare state regimes. The high job mobility of the Baltic countries is also confirmed by their expected future mobility. Citizens of Portugal and Italy are least inclined to change their employer. Corporatist welfare regimes, such as Austria and Belgium (but with the exception of France), score low on job mobility expectations.

In general, citizens in the EU15 express greater intentions of moving than their counterparts in the NMS. However, when individual countries are looked at, a pattern emerges of four groups of countries, with distinct profiles of mobility expectations. These four groups are listed in descending order of the expressed intentions of their citizens.

- In four high mobility NMS (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland), more citizens have firm intentions of moving - between 2.4% and 4.2%

- In four high mobility EU15 countries (Denmark, Ireland, Finland and Sweden) between 1.4% and 2.9% of citizens have firm intentions of moving: more than twice the level in the low-mobility NMS;

- In the 11 low mobility EU15 countries, citizens display a slightly higher intention of moving than those in the low mobility NMS.

- In four low mobility NMS (Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, and Slovenia) few citizens have firm intentions of moving - between 0.5% and 1.8%.

1.2. Job mobility

Job mobility, which is defined hereby as career changes within paid employment, comprises all transitions between different divisions of the labour market and between different socio-economic positions in the labour market.

1.2.1. Switching employer or People who have never changed employer: The level of job mobility can be measured through the number of times people have changed employer, and the average duration of each job they have held. The EB64.1 survey looked at the relative proportions of people who had never changed employer after the age of 35 years (this age was chosen to balance the fact that younger people may never have had the opportunity to change jobs, or in other words, in order to avoid including young people for whom not changing employer does not necessarily indicate a lack of mobility, “never mobile” people are defined here as those who have never changed employer and are aged 35 or older). With this definition, 25% of respondents in the Eurobarometer mobility survey have never changed employer in their career.

There are substantial differences between the countries of the EU25 in the percentage of people who have never changed employer. In the EU15, the lowest proportions of respondents who have never changed employer are found in the UK and in the social democratic countries of Denmark, Sweden, Finland and the Netherlands. In the NMS, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania also have low proportions. Southern countries, such as Malta, Greece, Portugal and Italy, have much higher proportions of respondents who have never changed employer.

1.2.2. Average job duration: Job mobility can also be measured by job duration. This indicator is used to analyse job mobility by looking at the whole population of respondents in the survey and describing their job mobility during their entire labour market career. Shorter job durations indicate greater mobility. Those countries with the lowest proportion of citizens who had never changed jobs also have the shortest job durations. Because of the fact that older people have had more opportunities to change employer than younger people, this indicator is used to correct for length of career. The average job duration is calculated by dividing the length of the labour market career by the number of jobs of the individual: Average job duration i = (age i - age first job i) / number of jobs i.

In Europe, the average job duration is calculated to be 8.3 years. The lowest average job duration (and thus the highest job mobility over the entire career) is found in those Member States earlier typified as having a low proportion of people who had never changed employer, i.e. the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Sweden and Finland, the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, the UK and the Netherlands. Denmark has the shortest job duration, at just under five years, while Portugal has the longest, at 11 years.

Figure 7: Average job duration, by country (years)

It is also noteworthy the age divide in job mobility behaviour. Longer job durations, and thus less job mobility, is found among older respondents. It seems that workers tend to keep their labour market position in the later stages of their career, either because they have found a job that satisfies them or because they perceive their chances of finding another job to be small (for example, because of employers' preferences for younger candidates) or this can be due to the pension rights portability reason. The average number of jobs does not increase for people aged 35 and above. This indicates that, in the past, people stayed longer with the same employer than they do now.

1.2.3. Recent job changes: Job mobility behaviour is also examined through the most recent change of employer and the timing of this latest change.

25% of working respondents have never changed employer or 75% of the currently working respondents have changed employer at least once in their career. About 50% of the currently working respondents have changed employer at least once over the course of the last 10 years; 32% of them joined their current employer in the last five years. Out of the entire working population, 8% changed employer as recently as during the last year (2005, when the survey was conducted).

The results on recent job mobility levels are in line with the previous findings on job mobility over the entire labour market career. Denmark is the EU15 country with the highest recent job mobility rates (almost 16% of the Danish workforce joined their current employer as recently as within the last year). The UK and Ireland display the next highest rates of recent job mobility among the EU15. In the NMS, high recent job mobility rates are found in the Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania), with Hungary having the most occupationally mobile population of the NMS. Most southern European countries (e.g. Greece, Malta and Portugal) and Austria typically show lower levels of job mobility, most people having joined their current employer some time ago. Spain and Cyprus do not follow this pattern and have moderate mobility rates.

Looking into the extent of recent job mobility - the proportion of citizens who have changed employer within the last year, the results are in line with previous measures. The highest recent mobility rates in the EU are found in Denmark (almost 16%); in other EU15 countries the highest rates are found in the UK (just under 13%) and Ireland (11%). The highest rates in the NMS are found in Latvian Hungary and Estonia (over 13%) and Lithuania (over 12%). Most Southern European countries as well as Austria show lower rates of mobility.

Figure 8: Recent Job mobility, by country (%)

1.2.4. Job mobility intentions: Of those respondents who were currently working at the time of the survey, 43% said that they expected to change their current job in the next five years. Expectations of future mobility are highest in the liberal and social democratic welfare states, and in the Baltic countries. Citizens in corporatist welfare states and Southern European countries have fewer intentions of changing employer.

Figure 9: Job mobility intentions, by country

It is evidenced that there are important differences in job mobility between EU Member States and that these are more or less consistent over all aspects of job mobility. There seems to be a correlation between high levels of job mobility and the classification of welfare state regimes, as defined by Esping-Andersen (1990). At the high end of the job mobility scale are the social democratic and liberal welfare state countries. Denmark is the most mobile of the social democratic countries, although the other three countries in that category (Sweden, Finland and the Netherlands) also score highly on the different aspects of mobility. Of the liberal welfare states, the UK displays higher job mobility than does Ireland. A last group of mobile countries consists of some of the NMS - the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The group showing the lowest overall job mobility comprises the southern European countries of Portugal, Greece, Italy and Spain (although Spain is somewhat of an exception since it often shows job mobility levels that are close to or even above the EU average). Malta can clearly be added to this last group since it displays a comparably low job mobility level. Cyprus, on the other hand, shows higher job mobility and should therefore not be classified within this group of countries. The corporatist welfare state regimes (Germany, France, Belgium, Austria and Luxembourg) and the five remaining NMS (Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia) share the middle position on the scale of high-to-low job mobility. In the group of corporatist countries, Austria is the least mobile, with job mobility levels similar to those of some Mediterranean countries; France, on the other hand, consistently shows higher-than-average job mobility. Hungary is by far the most occupationally mobile country of the NMS in this group.

1.3. Mobility in the two dimensions - geographical and job mobility

Geographical mobility and job mobility are clearly related: a majority of moves across regions or borders are made for job-related reasons. The findings on geographical and job mobility can thus be combined to form a panorama of European mobility. Across Europe, it would seem that levels of geographical mobility and of job mobility coincide: in countries that have high levels of geographical mobility, people tend to change jobs more often.

One observation that can be made by looking at the two dimensions of mobility is that the scattering of countries forms a loose, upward-sloping diagonal; this indicates a positive correlation between the levels of both mobility types. In other words, this means that countries with a high proportion of citizens changing residence are also countries with high levels of job mobility. This supports a view of Europe as being polarised into mobile, or less mobile, countries in the two dimensions of mobility.

The result can also be interpreted in terms of clusters - either regional, or of employment and welfare regimes. In Figure 10, the interregional differences within Europe are emphasised by regrouping the Member States into different groups. Broadly speaking, the 25 countries are divided into four groups:

- Nordic countries (Demark, Sweden and Finland), Baltic countries (Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia) and the UK and the Netherlands: All these northern European countries show high levels of both geographical and job mobility. The highest mobility rates are found in the Nordic countries and the UK, the Baltic countries and the Netherlands following close behind.

- Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Ireland: These five countries form a cluster in which geographical mobility is more prominent, but job mobility is moderate. International mobility is very apparent in Luxembourg and Ireland. Intra-EU mobility in both Germany and Belgium is at the average level. France scores slightly below average in terms of intra-EU mobility, but more people living in France have moved outside Europe.

- Two Mediterranean countries (Spain and Cyprus) and two central European countries (the Czech Republic and Hungary): These countries have a low level of residential mobility, but a higher job mobility level.

- Four Mediterranean countries (Malta, Greece, Italy and Portugal) and four central European countries (Slovakia, Poland, Slovenia and Austria): This cluster is characterised by a generally low mobility profile on both dimensions. A relatively low number of people moved residence and job mobility is lower than the European average. It is noted that these countries also have a low to moderate level of international mobility.

The division of European countries according to their mobility profile shows a remarkable resemblance to the welfare state typology devised by Esping - Andersen (1990). High mobility rates are found in the social democratic and liberal welfare regimes. High levels of geographical mobility, but moderate job mobility are a characteristic of the corporatist welfare regimes. The southern European regime seems to be associated with low mobility. This correlation indicates that different welfare state regimes facilitate geographical mobility in different ways (Muffels et al, 2002).

2. Eurobarometer 2005 versus Eurobarometer 2001: Changes over timespan

Labour mobility in European countries has been survey in Eurobarometer 2001 (EB54.2). By making a comparison of the level of job mobility in the 2005 Eurobarometer mobility survey (EB 64.1) with the data obtained in 2001 for the EU15 (EB 54.2), it is possible to draw some trend in mobility levels in the EU over time.

2.1. Past patterns of job mobility

Cautious comparison with earlier data on job mobility would lead to the conclusion that job mobility has slightly increased. In the 2001 edition of the Eurobarometer mobility survey (EB54.2), 29% of the respondents reported having changed jobs over the last five years. The corresponding percentage found in the 2005 survey (EB 64.1) is 32%, which would point to a slight increase in rates of job mobility in the EU15 over the last five years.

Across countries, same pattern of job mobility is shown in Scandinavian countries in year 2001, with the highest job mobility level in Denmark, 52.5% of the survey respondents have changed jobs in the last five years. The Netherlands (59.1%) and Sweden (55.8%) join the group of countries whose citizens change jobs most often. The champions of job stability are the Greeks, of whom 79% haven't changed jobs in the last five years. More than ¾ of citizens in the following countries are in the same position: Belgium (78.3%), the Western Lander and Germany (77.6%), Luxembourg (77.5%), Italy (76.8), Portugal (75.5% and Germany (75.3%). These results reveal quite the same clusters as job mobility in year 2005 shown by Eurobarometer survey EB64.1.

In terms of job mobility frequency, the 2001 survey also reveals a diversity of situations in the EU Member States. The Finnish are those who have changed jobs with the highest frequency in the last five years (up to the survey time 2001), 2.7% times on average (EU 15 average level was 2 times). This figure is driven in particular by the 10% of Finnish citizens who have changed jobs more than five times. Three other countries also stand out among EU15 are: Spain (average frequency of 2.43), the Netherlands (2.31) and Greece (2.31). The lowest frequencies when it comes to changing jobs are observed in Germany (1.78), Portugal (1.77), Luxembourg (1.73) and Ireland (1.72).

2.2. Prospect of changing jobs

Mobility intentions were also recorded in the Eurobarometer 2001 for the EU15 countries (EB 54.2). In 2001, only 22% reported an intention to move within the next five years. In 2005 (EB64.1), the majority (69%) of the European population (aged 18 or more) had no intentions of moving, while 31% expected to move within the next five years. There seems to have been an increase between 2001 and 2005 of those people who intend to move within the EU - in the EU15.

Again, the European groups that are most convinced they will change jobs within the next five years are to be found in the UK and Nordic countries, and the Netherlands, 40% of British people said Yes to the question “Do you think you will change jobs in the next five years?”, Denmark (39%), Sweden (37%), the Netherlands (33%), Finland (33%). At the other end of the scale, the countries where the likelihood to change jobs in the next five years is considered lowest are Austria (15%), Italy (15%) and Germany (12%).

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