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The Dynamics of Cross-Border Labor: Commuting from the Dutch to the German Part of the Euregio Meuse-Rhine, 1960-2000

Sophie Bouwens

Abstract


In spite of diverging developments on national labor markets across Europe and efforts to facilitate labor mobility across its internal borders in the late 1990s, cross-border commuting is of only marginal significance in the European Union. Research considering the current situation holds that socio-cultural and psychological factors play a critical role in the (non-)realization of cross-border labor. Nevertheless, European border people need not always have been this immobile. Drawing on aggregated figures and contemporary reports, this article presents a historical account of commuting from the Dutch to the German part of the Euregio Meuse-Rhine (EMR) between 1960 and 2000, and the way it was embedded in its economic context. It will be demonstrated that although cross-border labor from the Dutch to the German part of the EMR had become a marginal phenomenon in the 1980s and 1990s, in the 1960s and early 1970s it was rather common. This was the result of the dynamic interaction between (socio-)economic and "softer" issues, related to the existence of the Dutch-German border. It is claimed that a historical approach to cross-border labor helps unfolding its dynamic nature and contextual embeddedness.

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Print ISSN: 0886-5655
Online ISSN: 2159-1229

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