Eastern European migrant workers and the Danish labor market

  • Kirkeby, Anja (Project Participant)

    Project Details


    The Central and Eastern European enlargement of the EU in 2004 and 2007 has meant changes in the European migration patterns with significant flows from East to West – also for Denmark - despite the fact that Denmark until 2009 has had an ' East-agreement ' with the requirement that workers from the eight Eastern European EU countries, which were included in the EU per 1. May 2004 as well as Bulgaria and Romania (from 2007), in a transitional phase should have a residence and work permit before they could work for a Danish employer. The aim was to ensure the new Eastern European workers decent wages and working conditions on the Danish labor market, as well as ensuring that working conditions for Danish workers were not impaired. The gradual phase-out of the East-agreement, however, has increased the possibility of various forms of exploitation of the new Eastern European workers, both in Danish jobs and in connection with sub-contracting. This – together with the fast growing number of Eastern European workers - challenges the norms and traditions of the Danish labor market and can result in deterioration of occupational health and safety of both immigrant and Danish workers. The problems can be exacerbated by the fact that East-agreement was phased out at the same time as the impacts from Global Economic Crisis and unemployment increased; i.e. that unemployment in general grew, and the already declining employment in the male-dominated jobs for skilled and non-skilled workers declined further.

    The aim of the PhD project is, based on Danish registers and longitudinal methods, to analyze the consequences of labor migration and mobility from the new Eastern European EU member countries at the Danish labor market regarding pay, working conditions and health and safety in the non-skilled and skilled labor market, with special focus on the building and construction - and cleaning industries. The project maps and analyses trends on both individual and enterprise level as well as segregation patterns on a macro-level of the Danish labor market.

    Individual data are aggregated on country of origin and citizenship, enterprise and trade. In the two selected industries the development is analyzed of registered accidents, illness and exit from the labor market (or trade) among all employees at enterprise level. The analyses are using longitudinal methods (duration analysis and Cox regression models) on the individual-based annual and event-based information from records on individuals’ objective (and registered) socioeconomic conditions, working history (places of work, wages, unemployment, sickness absence), family history, migration history in Denmark, citizenship, history of disease (accidents, medicine and health). Duration analyses may reveal factors with significance for residence time in Denmark and the Cox regression may reveal factors (individual as well as aggregated) with significance of changes.

    As an introduction to the research questions, the PhD maps the trends of labor migration and mobility from the new Eastern European member countries, i.e. regarding the duration of stay in Denmark (related to the migrants’ demographic background and family situation), and the impact of various factors on the migrants’ risk of leaving Denmark again, factors as the migrants’ attachment to the Danish labor market in form of their labor market position, continuity in employment and income as well as their demographic background and family situation.

    Effective start/end date01/03/201329/02/2016