The devil is in the detail: measuring intra-EU labour migration

Clare Fenwick

Research output: Working paper / PreprintWorking paper


Freedom of movement is a fundamental principle of the European Union (EU) and yet this key pillar of European integration has become a topic of controversy as member states find their labour markets under pressure. This article examines key trends in intra-EU labour migration and explores what existing migration data has to offer researchers studying EU migration related research questions. Furthermore, it aims to communicate the main limitations of currently available data, with a focus on the lack of quality, disaggregated statistics on the ‘category of movement’ for intra-EU mobile citizens. Subsequently, this article presents one way in which we have sought to fill this particular gap in migration data. We create two intra-EU labour migration indicators using the European Union Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS) to support researchers aiming to analyse this ‘missing’ population of interest more effectively. This article explains and
presents these labour migration indicators, the method used to produce them, and provides descriptive statistics to show the different trends and patterns between the two groups. Finally, these original indicators are made available for others to make use of in their own research explorations should they wish.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUniversiteit Leiden
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

SeriesDepartment of Economics Research Memorandum


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