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Irregular migration and informal economy in Southern and Central-Eastern Europe: breaking the vicious cycle?


, : Irregular migration and informal economy in Southern and Central-Eastern Europe: breaking the vicious cycle?. International Migration 49(5): 129-156

The flexible and cheap labour that European “post-industrial” economies are in need of is often facilitated by undeclared labour. The undocumented migrant, from his/her part, relatively easily finds work that suits his -- at least initial -- plans. What lies behind this nexus between irregular migration and informal economy? To what extent can this nexus be attributed to the structural features of the so-called “secondary”, as opposed to “primary”, labour market? And how does migration policy correlate with this economic context and lead to the entrapment of migrants in irregularity? Finally, can this vicious cycle of interests and life-strategies be broken and what does the experience of the migrants indicate in this respect? This paper addresses these questions via an exploration of the grounds upon which irregular migration and the shadow economy complement each other in southern Europe (SE) and central and Eastern Europe (CEE) (two regions at different points in the migration cycle). In doing so, the dynamic character of the nexus between informal economy and irregular migration will come to the fore, and the abstract identity of the “average” undocumented migrant will be deconstructed.

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Accession: 053986118

PMID: 22167868

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