Artículo

THE CONTRADICTION OF MOBILITY: THE CASE OF QUALIFIED YOUTH IN PORTUGAL AT A TIME OF CRISIS

The migration of qualified youth during the economic crisis has been a popular research topic for migration scholars since the onset of crisis in 2008 and an issue of political concern in countries subject to debt-crisis austerity programmes, including Portugal. Official statistics suggest significant rises in the number of outward migrants, with studies illustrating the expectations and experiences of movers. While possibly driven by crisis-related factors such as the decline in graduate opportunities, this form of transnational mobility can also be interpreted as a form of intra-European mobility, albeit not necessarily corresponding to the imagined rationales of employers and policymakers. In theoretical terms, the transnational circulation of qualified youth can be conceptualised as a form of reflexive mobility, with emphasis upon flexibility in decision-making and uncertain in terms of job security; a form of mobility which does not necessarily address the need among ‘crisis migrants’ for career stability. This paper engages with this theme, drawing evidence from a study of 1,200 tertiary educated young people in the Lisbon Metropolitan area conducted in three waves during 2011-2014, illustrating potential destinations, durations and motivations for seeking an exit. Following a presentation of results, I discuss the contradiction between seeking job security through migration and the reality of mobility offering contingent futures. In conclusion, it is argued that labour market difficulties at a time of crisis are not restricted to ‘immobile’ young people but also affect those practicing reflexive mobility, including those attempting to escape the on-going economic crisis.
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