From peripheral region to escalator region in Europe: young Baltic graduates in London

This paper examines recent migration from three little-studied EU countries, the Baltic states, focusing on early-career graduates who move to London. It looks at how these young migrants explain the reasons for their move, their work and living experiences in London, and their plans for the future, based on 78 interviews with individual migrants. A key objective of this paper is to rejuvenate the core-periphery structural framework through the theoretical lens of London as an ‘escalator’ region for career development. We add a necessary nuance on how the time dimension is crucial in understanding how an escalator region functions – both in terms of macro-events such as EU enlargement or economic crisis, and for life-course events such as career advancement or family formation. Our findings indicate that these educated young adults from the EU’s north-eastern periphery migrate for a combination of economic, career, lifestyle and personal-development reasons. They are ambivalent about their futures and when, and whether, they will return-migrate.