Lithuanian circular migrants’ experiences in wandering between Lithuanian and Norwegian welfare states
Background. Economic demands, new technologies and flexibility of national and international legislation led to the development of various migration and employment patterns. One of the highly promoted but little researched pattern is circular migration. Such migration is common between higher and lower living cost countries that are relatively close to each other like Norway and Lithuania. Norway is a high-income country with one of the highest inflow of labour migration between the OECD countries. Whilst Lithuania is a highincome but low-cost country known as a provider of labour migrants. Today, Lithuanians are the second by size group of migrant workers in Norway which, however, remains under-researched. Circular migration not only benefited Norwegian industries, but also challenged the social welfare policy makers with new problems like social dumping. Therefore, as Lithuanian labour circular migrants are a significant group in Norway, they make a relevant sample for a case study of circular labour migrants in a context of social welfare. Research questions. This paper aims to gather more descriptive and explanatory data about how Lithuanian circular migrants approach social welfare while wandering between home country and Norway, and how Lithuanian and Norwegian welfare states support circular migrants and their families coping capabilities. Methods. The research consists of two major parts. First one is an online forum content analysis, which was performed as a pilot to gather more knowledge about Lithuanians’ concerns and problems while migrating to Norway (in case of circular migration and not only). It also served as a tool to narrow down an extremely broad topic of social welfare and to prepare a more accurate interview guide for the following research part. The second method comprises eight semi-structured interviews with 11 respondents, which provided comprehensive data to the research questions. Conclusions. This study has provided with a broader knowledge of Lithuanian circular migrants’ perceptions and experiences in accessing social welfare on a transnational level. Nevertheless, attempts to understand this phenomenon better, led to a development of a conjoint theoretical framework of coping capabilities. Circulation, as a coping capability, is common between people with short-term problem-solving preferences and high degree of wish to be in control. Circular migrant and their families tend to rely on the Norwegian market for the provision of social welfare, with little expectations from the states. Norway supports coping capabilities of circular migrant by providing access to public healthcare, strictering the regulations related to employment and housing, and developing a circular migrant friendly taxation policy. Lithuanian welfare state supports coping capabilities of circular migrant indirectly by targeting his family members that live in the home country.