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Job Mobility in Europe

Tine  Andersen

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Job Mobility in Europe

Job mobility takes place in a social and economic rather than a geographic dimension. It involves movements between employers; between occupations and steps on the career ladder; between different types of contracts; and in and out of employment.

In 2006-08, Danish Technological Institute carried out a comprehensive study of job mobility in Europe for the EU Commission, Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities. The overall objective of this study was to contribute to the discussion in the EU Member States on how to optimise job mobility in Europe. The study does this by providing empirical evidence about social as well as econo­mic effects of job mobility.

A wide-ranging literature review was supplemented by statistical analyses of survey and panel data and time series from Eurostat.

The study found that levels of job mobility vary significantly between the EU Member States. The highest levels of job mobility are found in the United Kingdom, in the Scandinavian countries and in the Baltic states.  At the macroeconomic level, the study finds that for the net effect of job mobility to be positive, a policy mix and an institutional set-up is needed to facilitate a level of job-mobility. This job mobility must be sufficiently high to be conducive of high productivity and rapid innovation, and yet not so high that it leads to high employment and low unemployment in the non-core labour force. Furthermore, the study finds strong evidence that voluntary and positively motivated job mobility is associated with more positive social and economic effects than involuntary mobility. The latter typically refers to mobility caused by redundancy or forced retirement.

The study proposes the introduction of a set of job mobility and labour market performance indicators. The achievement of these targets is defined as ‘balanced job mobility’. This concept is discussed in the context of the ongoing policy efforts in the field of flexicurity.

The study gives several recommendations to the Member States as well as to the European Commission and to the social partners on policies that can contribute to balanced job mobility. Some of these recommendations have been adopted in the introduction of a new set of statistical indicators on flexicurity.

The goals of the study were:

  • to prepare and present a description of the current extent and character of job mobility in Europe
  • ways to assess how much job mobility is desirable for European labour markets from an economic and social point of view
  • taking these two analyses into account, to discuss how to optimise job mobility in economic and social terms, taking into consideration both benefits and challenges in connection with increased job mobility.


More information

The role of Public Employment Services in Implementing Flexicurity
The Impact of Global Sourcing on eSkills