Circularity or settlement? Cultural and economic factors in Romanian migration to Southern Europe

Jennifer Blakeslee, Australian National University
Cristina Bradatan, Texas Tech University
Laszlo J. Kulcsar, Kansas State University

Among other fundamental changes, the post-socialist transformation has witnessed increasing geographic mobility in Eastern Europe. Significant migration from Romania into Southern Europe (Spain, Italy, Greece, and Portugal) since 2000 provides a case in point. Part of a larger project examining the development of an East-South migration system, in this paper we assess the contribution of cultural and socioeconomic ties between Southern Europe and Romania to the growth of migration streams over time. While this flow has significant implications for Romania, in terms of both socioeconomic and long term demographic trends, we focus on the institutional, economic and social conditions in the destination countries—investigating how these conditions create pull factors for Eastern Europeans in general and facilitate the emergence of a Romanian migration stream in particular. We argue that it is not random Eastern Europeans who move to the West relying on blind luck or pure choice, but that developing regional migration networks condition the intentions and self-selection of migrants. Comparing the demography, geographic distribution and integration of Romanians in Spain and Italy, we evaluate the relative impact of kinship, social capital, cultural, legislative, and economic factors motivating their respective choices. In particular, we ask what differences in the context of reception contribute to circular or settlement migration patterns.

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Presented in Session 60: International Migration and Migrant Populations