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Förlorat i mobilitet? Arbetskraftsmigration från Litauen till Sverige


Avhandlingen avser att bidra både teoretiskt och empiriskt till ökad kunskap om den fria rörligheten inom EU med fokus på arbetskraftsmigration från Litauen till Sverige. Syftet är att bidra till att förklara såväl dynamiken i som det individuella beslutsfattandet bakom den omfattande arbetsutvandringen från de baltiska staterna samt att diskutera dess socioekonomiska konsekvenser och politiska inverkan.
Avhandlingen visar att följderna av den postkommunistiska neoliberala politiken och omvandlingen efter den ekonomiska krisen, tillsammans med uppbyggnaden av formella migrationskanaler efter anslutningen till EU, bidrar till att skapa olika migrantkategorier. Individuella strategier för att aktivt leta efter kanaler för exit och enter, kombinera dem på olika sätt och utifrån olika stadier i migrationsprocessen samt etablera informella sociala nätverk bidrar till att (re)konstituera vem som kan vara och vem som är en migrant. Vidare, efter den ekonomiska krisen och de införda åtstramningsåtgärderna, handlar beslutet om att emigrera inte bara om individuella överlevnadsstrategier, utan också om individuella uppfattningar om (ine)quality of life).


European integration , Migration, Welfare , Baltic states, Sweden


This thesis seeks to make both theoretical and empirical contributions to the understanding of intra-EU mobility, with a focus on labour migration from Lithuania to Sweden. Inspired by a critical realist perspective, the thesis aims to help to explain the dynamics and individual decision-making behind mass labour emigration from the Baltic states, its socioeconomic consequences and policy responses. Theoretically, the thesis proposes a model that synthesizes a social transformation approach with an extended version of Hirschman’s analytical framework of exit, voice and loyalty. The three empirical articles, based mainly on semi-structured interviews, are situated within this framework. Two of the articles seek to explain the migrants’ decision-making process of stay-exit-entrance in the context of the structural-institutional social changes that followed (1) independence from the Soviet Union in 1990; (2) EU accession in 2004; and (3) the 2008/2009 economic crisis with austerity. The third article brings into the debate the perspective of the sending Baltic countries, in a broader context of the East-West migration debate.
The dissertation shows that the consequences of the neoliberal policies of the post-communist and post-crisis transformations, together with the construction of formal migration channels after EU accession, constitute various migrant categories. Individual strategies of actively looking for channels to exit and enter, combining them in different ways at various points of the migratory process and establishing informal social networks are re-constituting who can be and who is a migrant. Furthermore, following the economic crisis and austerity measures, the decision to emigrate extends beyond individual survival strategies, instead becoming bound to an individual’s perception of the (ine)quality of life and pursuit of a better quality of life for oneself and one’s family across time and in different places. Finally, as the interviewed Baltic experts agree, the EU’s policy of the free movement is socially and economically problematic, although the official Baltic states’ policy responses focus primarily on ‘talented’ and ‘needed’ diaspora members’ return or engagement. These policies have proved to be inadequate to address demographic and socioeconomic challenges in part brought about by emigration.
The structural-institutional conditions, states’ and migrants’ strategies engender mobility as a social norm in the sending countries and promote and constitute the perpetuation of migration of both ‘precarious labour migrants’ and ‘active talented EU mobile citizens’.


Genelyte, I. (2016) Policy Response to Emigration from the Baltics: Confronting "The European Elephant in the Room" in Jon Erik Dølvik, Line Eldring (ed.) Labour Mobility in the Enlarged Single European Market. Comparative Social Research, Volume 32, Emerald, pp.45 - 72.

Genelyte, I. (forthcoming) (Ine)Quality of Life: Lithuanian Labor Migration to Sweden during Economic Crisis and its Aftermath. Journal of Baltic Studies.

Genelyte, I. (forthcoming) The Two Sides of The Baltic Sea: Lithuanians as labour migrants and mobile EU citizens in Sweden. In Changes and challenges of cross-border labour mobility within the EU edited by Anna Ann Klitgaard and Trine Lund Tomsen, Peter Lang Publishing.

Other Academic Output

Stakeholder seminar presentation of the Forte project results "Lithuanians entering Sweden and its Labour Market". Organized by Linköping University, Linköping municipality and Linköping County Administrative Board as a part of the Lithuanian Ambassador's in Sweden visit on May 23rd, Linköping.

2011 - 2018


FAS/FORTE Research environment funding
Visby Program Grant

REMESO Project Leader

Indre Genelyte, PhD student

Scientifically Responsible

Branka Likic-Brboric, Associate Professor (biträdande professor)

Participants from REMESO

Annette Thörnquist
Charles Woolfson

Participants not from REMESO

Contact for project


Last updated: 2018-10-18

Page responsible: erik.berggren@liu.se
Last updated: 2020-05-27