Social Opportunities, Migration, and Social justice for European Citizens: A Capability Based Approach to Southern Euro Zone Brain Drain to the Nordic Countries

cenci, Alessandra (2014). 'Social Opportunities, Migration, and Social justice for European Citizens: A Capability Based Approach to Southern Euro Zone Brain Drain to the Nordic Countries' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, 2-5 September 2014, Athens, Greece.

Despite the shift from manufacturing industry to knowledge-based economy, certain EU countries continue to be migration societies. While in the period from 1950-70 southern European countries such as Italy, Spain, Greece and Portugal which this paper focused on, were the main providers of cheaper low-skilled workforce to German, Switzerland or French factories, at the present days, such nations prevalently contribute to the feeding of the intra-EU Brain Drain phenomenon.

The main hypothesis put forward here is that the phenomenon is the result of capability deprivations. The lack of opportunities for high skilled people in the countries of origin has been caused by national and supra-national factors. For this reason, the emphasis will be on the drivers of migrants' choice which are conceptualized using a 'Capability Approach'. The paper analyses the complex relationship between social opportunities, migration and human well-being focusing on migrants' actual freedom to achieve the things that they have reasons to value.

Traditionally, highly skilled migrations had been predominantly related to a nation's economic outcomes. The key hypothesis to be explored in this paper is that political, cultural, and social aspects of societies (e.g. democratic shortcomings, structural inequalities, increasing poverty and absence of social mobility) might be equally relevant driving forces of migration outflows as economic indicators, thus they need to be included in the analyses. This is the key advantage of grounding migration analyses not only on the traditional analytical concept of 'human capital' but also on the broader and more inclusive concept of 'human capability'. Therefore, migrants' multiple life-expectations and conception of welfare, reasons to move and future plans are examined according to the framework foremost assumptions. This approach can be considered as complementary to conventional economic, standard views on high skilled migrations. Indeed, it contemplates that due to the awareness of differentiated integration and potential divisions between different regions and members' states as well as the dissimilar impact of the euro crisis, rejecting popular 'circular migration models' and instead, maintaining the core-periphery relations is extremely significant in the EU context.

From a capability-perspective, the study attempts to show how constraining the most negative impacts of the intra-EU brain drain requires improving not only the overall economic outcomes, but also the democratic and social structure both at national and European level. Indeed, undertaking this task and legitimize further European integration entails the application of more comprehensive concepts of welfare, human development, progress in order to largely re-think public policy paradigms.

The study based on primary data collected by qualitative focus group interviews and an on-line survey among skilled southern Euro Zone migrants in the Nordic countries. The information obtained will be further triangulated with other sources such as statistics, policy papers, journal, internet and press articles. The choice of targeting the phenomenon of southern intra-EU Brain Drain in the Nordic countries is because of their leading positions on the knowledge economy indicators within the EU and on the growing migration from the target countries of this study registered in such settings.

The main conclusion is that to curb the brain drain, enhance human capabilities, avoid any kind of vulnerability, provide all European citizens with basic welfare rights thus, satisfy basic requirement of social justice, it might be necessary to introduce more solidarity-oriented plans and actions. This might imply reinforcing investments in R&D, welfare states and social security in the sending countries as well as strengthening democracy and accountability of the national and the EU institutional assets.

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