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The complementarity of the Irish and British liberal market economies and skilled EU migration since 2004 compared to the Swedish coordinated market economy

This paper sets out to explain why the UK and Ireland have received a higher proportion of skilled and highly educated European migrants since 2004 than Sweden, arguing that the features of the formers’ liberal market economies as described in the Varieties of Capitalism literature are more complementary to skilled temporary migration than those of Sweden’s coordinated market economy. The flexible labour market, the short-term employment relationships, the emphasis on general education and the centrality of competition in the Irish and British labour markets are identified as the main features attracting skilled temporary European migrants. This stands in contrast to Sweden’s emphasis on specialised vocational training, long-term employment relationships and a rigid, less accessible labour market. These findings imply that European coordinated market economies, in need of skilled migrants due to demographic changes, have to create strong institutional incentives to compete with liberal market economies for skilled migrants.