Expatriation in the Age of Austerity: An Analysis of Capital Mobilization Strategies of Self-Initiated Expatriates

Expatriation in the Age of Austerity: An Analysis of Capital Mobilization Strategies of Self-Initiated Expatriates

Tasawar Nawaz
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0948-6.ch009
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Drawing on Bourdieu's concept of capital this study deploys a relational perspective to examine capital mobilization strategies of skilled migrants from recession ravaged Western- and impoverished Eastern-European member states when navigating their way through structural constraints that affect their career choices. It is a multilevel approach that allows overcoming the individual (micro) emphasis in the self-initiated expatriation literature, organizational (meso) and contextual (macro) focus in the skilled migration studies. Based on qualitative research involving self-initiated expatriates from the European Union (EU) in Edinburgh the study extends our understanding beyond the narrow discourse of human capital and offers a more holistic picture of skilled migration in the age of austerity. The study also exposes that EU citizenship is not enough to undertake successful career mobility. Finally, it highlights the need of proactive and purposeful policies to retain the brain while not imposing any draconian on free movement of human capital.
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Financial turmoil and huge government deficits (Peet, 2011) are the two fundamental tendencies that have forced the neoliberal states of Europe to impose societal punishment in the form of fiscal austerity (Taylor-Gooby & Stoker, 2011). Such fiscal retrenchment has provoked social- and economic-distress (Clarke & Newman, 2012), which led to self-initiated expatriation across Europe (Ötker-Robe & Podpiera, 2013). A burgeoning concern in the public debate, therefore, is driven by the fear that these migrants are fiscal burden because they drain public resources by drawing on the generous social transfers introduced in Europe to prevent social exclusion (see Drinkwater & Robinson, 2013; Dustmann & Frattini, 2014). Politicians also support such beliefs and urge policy makers to restrict welfare access for such migrants (Boeri, 2010). The UK government have recently announced a 12 billion Pound cut in welfare to tackle the tenuous fiscal imbalance. The move equally aims to cope with the abysmal migration inflow from the EU that has targeted the UK’s exchequer as an easy scapegoat.

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