Topic: Immigration to rural areas and changes in local youth’s life trajectories
keywords: Labour migration, rural areas, native mobility, social inequality
After the EU-enlargements in 2004 and 2007, large numbers of labour migrants have arrived and settled in Norway. Many rural areas, previously unfamiliar with migration, have experienced a large influx of labour migrants. These migrants, which mainly are low-skilled workers from Eastern Europe, are now overrepresented in many rural industries, such as the fish processing industry, on shipyards, hotels and in agriculture. In the small and often uniform labour markets in rural areas, large changes brought about by labour migration might affect choices concerning settlement as well as educational and occupational choices. In this paper, I examine whether this influx of labour migrants to rural areas have had any effect on the mobility patterns of natives in rural Norway. Many rural areas struggle with depopulation and much is written about the potential in immigrants “rescuing” rural regions. However, if increasing numbers of immigrants affect native inflows or outflows, it is an important part of the picture and must be considered in the overall debate about immigration and depopulation in rural regions. While a large number of studies exist on the effect of immigration on native labour market outcomes, less research exist on the effect on natives’ geographical mobility, and particularly in rural areas. Previous research suggests immigration has a negative effect on native net migration, but other studies provide conflicting results. Some studies also find differential impact on different skill groups. Panel data regression with municipal-level register data from 2004 to 2016 is utilized to explore the effect of immigration on mobility patterns of natives in different skill groups.