Based on 41 semi-structured interviews with young Latvians and Romanians in Malmö, Sweden, this article explores why Europeans from new European Union (EU) member states want to move to, and stay in, Sweden despite economic difficulties and underemployment. Six main factors for explaining mobility patterns are highlighted: free university education, romantic relationships, cosmopolitan lifestyle, presence of English language, idealisation of Sweden and work–life balance. We read these factors as ideas and aspirations of well-being in the ‘imagined space’ of Sweden. The findings illustrate that many young migrants do not chose to move to Sweden for short-term economic opportunities, but rather to experience a different lifestyle. In most cases, these expectations are met, although over time.
Adda, J, Dustmann, C & Gorlach S 2016, The dynamics of return migration, human capital accumulation, and wage assimilation, UCL, London.
Adserà, A & Pytliková, M 2015, ‘The role of language in shaping international migration’, The Economic Journal, vol. 125, no. 586, pp. 49-81, DOI:10.1111/ecoj.12231.
Andersson, L & Hammarstedt, M 2012, ‘Inkomst-och yrkesposition bland invandrare från de nya EU-länderna’, Ekonomisk Debatt, vol. 40, no. 2, pp. 50-58.
Andrijasevic, R & Sacchetto, D 2016, ‘From labour migration to labour mobility? The return of the multinational worker in Europe’, Transfer: European Review of Labour and Research, vol. 22, no. 2, pp. 219-231.
Apsite, E, Lundholm, E & Stjernström, O 2012, ‘Baltic state migration system: The case of Latvian immigrants in Sweden’, Journal of Northern Studies, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 31-52.
Bartolini, L, Gropas, R & Triandafyllidou, A 2017, ‘Drivers of highly skilled mobility from Southern Europe: escaping the crisis and emancipating oneself’, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, vol. 43, no. 4, pp. 652-673, DOI:10.1080/1369183X.2016.1249048.
Benson, M 2011, The British in Rural France: Lifestyle Migration and the Ongoing Quest for a Better Way of Life, Manchester University Press, Manchester.
Benson, M & O’Reilly, K 2009, ‘Migration and the search for a better way of life: a critical exploration of lifestyle migration’, Sociological Review, vol. 57, no. 4, pp. 608-625, DOI:10.1111/j.1467-954X.2009.01864.x.
Benson, M & Osbaldiston, N 2016, ‘Toward a critical sociology of lifestyle migration: reconceptualizing migration and the search for a better way of life’, Sociological Review, vol. 64, no. 3, pp. 407-423, DOI:10.1111/1467-954X.12370.
Castro-Martín, T & Cortina, C 2015, ‘Demographic issues of intra-European migration: destinations, family and settlement’, European Journal of Population, vol. 31, no. 2, pp. 109-125, DOI:10.1007/s10680-015-9348-y.
de Lima, P 2017, International Migration: The Wellbeing of Migrants, Dunedin Manchester Press, Edinburgh.
Emilsson, H 2016, ‘Recruitment to occupations with a surplus of workers: the unexpected outcomes of Swedish demand-driven labour migration policy’, International Migration, vol. 54, no. 2, pp. 5-17, DOI:10.1111/imig.12222.
Emilsson, H. & Mozetič, K. In peer review, ‘European Youth Migration: Human Capital Outcomes, Skills and Competences’, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies.
Favell, A 2008, ‘The new face of East–West migration in Europe’, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, vol. 34, no. 5, pp. 701-716, DOI:10.1080/13691830802105947
Ferguson, JE, Salominaite, E & Boersma, K 2016, ‘Past, present and future: how the Lithuanian diaspora in the Netherlands accumulates human capital from social capital’, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, vol. 42, no. 13, pp. 2205-2225, DOI:10.1080/1369183X.2016.1164590.
Friberg, JH 2012, ‘The stages of migration: from going abroad to settling down: post-accession Polish migrant workers in Norway’, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, vol. 38, no. 10, pp. 1589-1605, DOI:10.1080/1369183X.2012.711055.
Fries-Tersch, E, Tugran, T & Bradley, H 2016, 2016 Annual Report on intra-EU Labour Mobility, European Commission, Brussels, DOI:10.2767/740419.
Gerdes, C & Wadensjö, E 2013, Immigration to Sweden from the New EU Member States, SIEPS, Stockholm.
Gerdes, C & Wadensjö, E 2014, ‘Receiving Countries’ Perspectives: The Case of Sweden’, IZA Discussion Paper, no. 8408, IZA, Bonn.
Gilmartin, M & Migge, B 2015, ‘European migrants in Ireland: pathways to integration’, European Urban and Regional Studies, vol. 22, no. 3, pp. 285-299, DOI:10.1177/0969776412474583.
Johnston, R, Khattab, N & Manley, D 2015, ‘East versus West? Over-qualification and earnings among the UK’s European migrants’, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, vol. 41, no. 2, pp. 196–218, DOI:10.1080/1369183X.2014.935308.
King, R, Lulle, A, Conti, F & Mueller, D 2016, ‘Eurocity London: a qualitative comparison of graduate migration from Germany, Italy and Latvia’, Comparative Migration Studies, vol. 4, no. 3, pp. 1-22., DOI:10.1186/s40878-016-0023-1.
King, R, Lulle, A, Parutis, V & Saar, M 2017, ‘From peripheral region to escalator region in Europe: young Baltic graduates in London’, European Urban and Regional Studies, Online first version, DOI:10.1177/0969776417702690.
Krings, T, Bobek, A, Moriaty, E, Salamónska, J & Wickham, J 2013, ‘Polish migration to Ireland: ‘free movers’ in the new European mobility space’, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, vol. 39, no. 1, pp. 87-103, DOI:10.1080/1369183X.2012.723250.
Kureková, L 2013, ‘Welfare systems as emigration factor: evidence from the new accession states’, Journal of Common Market Studies, vol. 51, no. 4, pp. 721-739, DOI:10.1111/jcms.12020.
Lulle, A, & Buzinska, L 2017, ‘Between a ‘student abroad’and ‘being from Latvia’: inequalities of access, prestige, and foreign-earned cultural capital’, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, vol. 43, no. 8, pp. 1362-1378, DOI:10.1080/1369183X.2017.1300336.
McCollum, D, Shubin, S, Apsite, E & Krisjane, Z 2013, ‘Rethinking labour migration channels: the experience of Latvia from EU accession to economic recession’, Population, Space and Place, vol. 19, no. 6, pp. 688-702, DOI:10.1002/psp.1789.
McCollum, D & Apsite-Berina, E 2015, ‘Recruitment through migrant social networks from Latvia to the United Kingdom: motivations, processes and developments’, Migration Letters, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 50-66.
McCollum, D, Apsite-Berina, E, Berzins, M & Krisjane, Z 2017, ‘Overcoming the crisis: the changing profile and trajectories of Latvian migrants’, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, vol. 43, no. 9, pp. 1508-1525, DOI:10.1080/1369183X.2016.1232161.
Olofsson, J 2012, Go West: East European Migrants in Sweden, Umeå Universitet, Umeå.
Recchi, E 2008, ‘Cross-state mobility in the EU: trends, puzzles and consequences’, European Societies, vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 197-224, DOI:10.1080/14616690701835287.
Sjögren, A & Vikström, J 2015, ‘How long and how much? Learning about the design of wage subsidies from policy changes and discontinuities’, Labour Economics, vol. 34, pp. 127-137.
Thörnquist, A 2015, East-West Labour Migration and the Swedish Cleaning Industry: A matter of immigrant competition?, Linköping University Electronic Press, Linköping.
Universitetskanslersämbetet 2017, Kartläggning av studieavgifter: Redovisning av ett regeringsuppdrag, Universitetskanslersämbetet, Stockholm.
Voitchovsky, S 2014, ‘Occupational downgrading and wages of new member states’ immigrants to Ireland’, International Migration Review, vol. 48, no. 2, pp. 500-537, DOI:10.1111/imre.12089.
White, A 2016, ‘Polish migration to the UK compared with migration elsewhere in Europe: a review of the literature’, Social Identities, vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 10-25, DOI:10.1080/13504630.2015.1110352.
Woolfson, C, Fudge, J & Thörnqvist, C 2014, ‘Migrant precarity and future challenges to labour standards in Sweden’, Economic and Industrial Democracy, vol. 35, no. 4, pp. 695-715, DOI:10.1177/0143831X13494249.
Wright, K 2012, International Migration, Development and Human Wellbeing, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke.
Wächter, B & Maiworm, F (eds.) 2015, English-Taught Programmes in European Higher Education, ACA Papers on International Cooperation in Education, Lemmens, Bonn.