Return to Sender: Exploring Return Migration among European Youth
CIES ISCTE Lisbon, Portugal
This paper examines an increasingly important research theme within migration studies, namely return migration, focusing upon the back and forward trans-national movements of young people. Also known as reverse migration, return migration refers to the process of migrants returning from host countries and regions to live once more in their places of origin. Following a brief review of theoretical and empirical studies of return migration (for example, Gill 2005, Williams and Balá? 2005, Ni Laoire 2007 and Tannenbaum, 2007), this paper first examines possible factors which are precipitating return migration among youth in Europe, making use of existing national and European level statistical evidence. This assessment includes discussion of the salience of economic factors and the significance of the family in youth return migration decision-making. Secondly, this analysis is complemented by exploring a specific return youth migration case study, namely return migration from Northern Ireland to Portugal. In recent decades, thousands of young Portuguese migrants have found work in the factories of the small market towns of Northern Ireland, typically at minimum wage levels and for short durations. This paper looks at reasons for their choice of Northern Ireland and also the social, economic, political, cultural and other factors which may have led to a return. The concluding section of this paper moves towards a conceptualisation of return migration among youth, taking into account not only the current economic downturn, but also personal influences upon return migration decision-making, most prominently, the role of the family.