This paper discusses whether recent Polish labour migrants in Norway are likely to face long-term integration problems related to labour market exclusion and welfare dependency. The analyses of the development over the first six years since European Union accession suggest a conditional yes. On the basis of survey and qualitative data collected among Polish workers in Oslo, I show that (1) substantial numbers of initial temporary migrants have settled down, owing to life-cycle- and family-related dynamics of the migratory process; (2) flexibilisation and ethnic segmentation in migrant-labour-intensive industries have prevented migrants from accessing stable employment; and (3) migrant workers with weak ties to the labour market are particularly at risk of being pushed out of employment in times of economic uncertainty and restructuring. These workers have, however, so far had quite limited access to unemployment benefits and other welfare state benefits. The analyses suggest that, despite some significant differences, the experiences of the so-called guest-workers of the post-war era may be a relevant historical reference for understanding the situation of today’s free-moving Central and Eastern European workers.
If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.
Alsos K. og L. Eldring (2008) “Labour mobility and wage dumping: The case of Norway.” European Journal of Industrial Relations 14(4):441-459
Andersen RK Bråten M Eldring L Friberg JH & Ødegård AM 2009 Norske bedrifters bruk av østeuropeisk arbeidskraft. Fafo-report 2009:46.
Arnholtz Jens and Nana Wesley Hansen 2011 “Small fish or sparse institutional nets? How to explain the poor working conditions of Poles in the Danish labor market”. Paper presented at the Nordic Sociological Conference - working group on Work Migration August 4-7 2011 Oslo
Bratsberg B Raaum O & Røed K 2010 ‘When minority labor migrants meet the welfare state’ Journal of Labor Economics vol. 28 no. 3 pp. 633-76.
Brochmann G & Kjeldstadli K 2008 A history of immigration: the case of Norway 900-2000 Universitetsforlaget Oslo.
Castles S 1986 ‘The guest-worker in Western Europe - an obituary’ International Migration Review vol. 20 no. 4 Special Issue: Temporary Worker Programs: Mechanisms Conditions Consequences (Winter 1986) pp. 761-78.
Dølvik JE Eldring L Horgen JF et.al. 2006 Grenseløst arbeidsliv? Endringer i norske bedrifters arbeidskraftsstrategier etter EUutvidelsen. Fafo-report 548 Oslo
Engbersen G Okólski M Black R & Panţîru C 2010 ‘Introduction - working out a way from east to west: EU enlargement and labour migration from central and Eastern Europe’. Chapter 1 in A continent moving west? EU enlargement and labour migration from central and Eastern Europe eds R Black G Engbersene M Okolski & C Pantiru University Press Amsterdam.
Engbersen G Snel E & de Boom J 2010 ‘“A Van Full of Poles”: liquid migration from central and Eastern Europe’. Chapter 6 in A continent moving west? EU enlargement and labour migration from central and Eastern Europe eds R Black G Engbersene M Okolski & C Pantiru University Press Amsterdam.
EU-Commission 2008 The impact of free movement of workers in the context of EU enlargement COM (2008) 765 final.
Favell A 2008 ‘The new face of east-west migration in Europe’ Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies vol. 34 no. 5 pp. 701-16.
Friberg JH 2012a ‘The stages of migration: from going abroad to settling down. The experiences of post-accession Polish migrant workers in Norway’ Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies Volume 38 Number 10 1 December 2012 pp. 1589-1605(17).
Friberg JH 2012b ‘Culture at work: Polish migrants in the ethnic division of labour on Norwegian construction sites’ Ethnic and Racial Studies Volume 35 Issue 11 2012.
Friberg JH & Eldring L 2011 Polonia i Oslo 2010 - Migrasjon arbeid og levekår i endring blant Polakker i hovedstaden Faforapport 2011: 27.
Grabowska-Lusinska I & Okolski M 2009 Emigracja ostatnia? [An ultimate emigration?] Wydawnictwo Naukowe Scholar Warszawa.
Grzymala-Kazlowska A 2005 ‘From ethnic cooperation to ingroup competition: undocumented Polish workers in Brussels’ Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies vol. 31 no. 4 pp. 675-97.
Heckathorn DD 1997 ‘Respondent-driven sampling: a new approach to the study of hidden populations’ Social Problems vol. 44 pp. 179-99.
Heckathorn DD 2007 ‘Extensions of respondent-driven sampling: analyzing continuous variables and controlling for differential recruitment’ Sociological Methodology vol. 37 no. 1 pp. 151-207.
Jaźwińska E & Okólski M (eds) 2001 Ludzie na huśtawce: migracje między peryferiami Polski i Zachodu Wydawnictwo Naukowe Scholar Warsaw.
Kahanec M & Zimmermann KF 2010 EU labor markets after postenlargement migration Springer Verlag Berlin.
Kahanec M & Zimmermann KF 2009 Migration in an enlarged EU: a challenging solution Economic Papers 363 Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs.
Morawska E 2001 ‘Structuring migration: the case of Polish income-seeking travellers to the west’ Theory and Society vol. 31 pp. 47-80.
Nesheim T 2002 ‘National employment regimes and firms’ staffing arrangements: Insights gained from comparing Norway as an ‘ideal typical case’ with the United States and the United Kingdom’ International Journal of Comparative Labour Law and Industrial Relations vol. 18 pp. 299-314.
NOU 2011 Bedre rustet mot finanskriser p. 1.
NOU 2011 Velferd og migrasjon - Den norske modellens framtid p. 7.
NOU 2012 Utenfor og innenfor. Norges avtaler med EU (Europautredningen) p. 2.
Røed M Bratsberg B & Schøne P 2011 ‘Bidrar innvandring til å «smøre hjulene» i arbeidsmarkedet?’ Søkelys på arbeidslivet 03/2011 pp. 244-264.
Salganik MJ & Heckathorn DD 2004 ‘Sampling and estimation in hidden populations using respondent-drive sampling’ Sociological Methodology vol. 34 pp. 193-239.
St.meld. nr. 18 (2007-2008) Arbeidsinnvandring
Tyldum G 2011 ‘Ethics or access? Balancing informed consent against the application of institutional economic or emotional pressures in recruiting respondents for research’ forthcoming in International Journal of Social Research Methodology. Available from: . [Accessed april 2011].
Volz E & Heckathorn DD 2008 ‘Probability based estimation theory for respondent-driven sampling’ Journal of Official Statistics vol. 24 no.1 pp. 79-97.
Wejnert C & Heckathorn DD 2008 ‘Web-based network sampling: efficiency and efficacy of respondent-driven sampling for online research’ Sociological Methods and Research. Available from: