Review of World Economics

, Volume 154, Issue 4, pp 815–834 | Cite as

The effects of European integration and the business cycle on migration flows: a gravity analysis

  • Alfonso Arpaia
  • Aron Kiss
  • Balazs Palvolgyi
  • Alessandro Turrini
Original Paper


This paper explores how European integration, economic fluctuations, and the interactions of these factors affect bilateral migration flows. It focuses on how migration flows developed in the wake of the establishment of the European Monetary Union, and whether migration flows became stronger, and more responsive to economic fluctuations, in the euro area. It estimates a gravity equation of bilateral gross migration flows on a global sample and on a sample restricted to the first 12 members of the euro area. It is found that unemployment is a strong and robust determinant of bilateral migration flows both globally and in the euro area. EU accession and the lifting of labour market restrictions on new member states had a large effect on gross migration flows. While mutual euro area membership is not associated with an overall rise in migration, it is associated with increased flows from countries where unemployment is high to those where it is lower. Migration flows among the euro-area 12 have been on an increasing trend since the late 1990s; after falls in 2009 they picked up again in 2010 and 2011. The evidence overall suggests that labour mobility plays an increasing role in the adjustment to asymmetric shocks in the EU and the euro area.


Migration Geographic mobility Labour mobility Gravity European Union EMU 

JEL Classification

J61 J64 


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Copyright information

© Kiel Institute 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs and InclusionEuropean CommissionBrusselsBelgium
  2. 2.Directorate General for Economic and Financial AffairsEuropean CommissionBrusselsBelgium

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