December 01st 2022

Project on young migrant workers in aging European societies starts in January 2023

Starting in January 2023, the Center for Social & Health Innovation (CSHI) and the Social Work Department at MCI will be working on the project "Life Strategies of Young Labor Migrants in Ageing Societies" (LYMAS) for a period of three years.

The project is funded by the Volkswagen Foundation and implemented in cooperation with the German Center for Integration & Migration Research (DeZIM), the University of Neuchâtel (Switzerland) and the University of Wroclaw (Poland).

In Europe, many countries are facing the consequences of aging societies. Shortages of skilled workers, economic losses or dysfunctional social and healthcare systems are just some of the challenges arising from demographic developments. As one solution, the issue of migration is considered. Especially in Western Europe, young workers from countries with a younger population profile are being recruited to build their lives in a new environment as labor migrants. By participating in the labor market, they are expected to help cover personnel needs and maintain the functionality of the social security systems or close the gaps in the pension systems of the recruiting countries. This certainly offers potential for both sides, but also poses (individual) challenges for migrant workers. For example, compared to workers without a migration background, inequalities may arise in terms of fair employment, remuneration or career advancement. Moreover, labor migration affects educational biographies and thus individual life trajectories and plans. In addition, there is the spatial distance between the workplace and the family of origin or personal networks and possible responsibility for relatives left behind.

Currently, only a few social science studies are available on this topic. In order to show the impact of aging societies on the lives of young working migrants in European countries with strong migration flows, both migrants from the EU and migrants from non-EU countries with refugee status are included in the research. The aim is to explore the perceptions of young migrants as key actors in an aging environment and to comprehend this influence on their decisions regarding work, housing and life plans. In addition, current policy measures in all partner countries (Germany, Switzerland, Poland, Austria, Italy) aimed at demographic as well as labor and migration policy change will be studied and analyzed. How do young migrants live and work together with older communities and colleagues? How do young people's self-perceptions, priorities, and identity development change in aging environments? How do policies influence their individual life choices? Questions like these will be researched using a mixed-methods approach. To this end, (1) in-depth interviews and video diaries will be conducted with young migrant workers in all partner countries. In addition, (2) observations will be made in different contexts such as housing, work, education and community. The survey will be complemented by (3) ethnographic approaches (e.g. mobile ethnography software, diary entries, participatory film production).

The obtained results are expected to help make statements about the attractiveness of the participating countries for young migrant workers and to provide perspectives and options for action for local and European (migration) policy. In doing so, the interests of young migrants and the supply and skilled labor interests of European countries are to be considered equally in order to address the challenges of aging European societies holistically and with the involvement of all stakeholders.




Prof. Dr. habil. Belachew Gebrewold

Head of Department & Studies

Social Work

+ 43 512 2070 - 3410


Lukas Kerschbaumer, BA MA

Lecturer, CIO Chief Information Officer of Bachelor Nonprofit, Social & Health Care Management

Center for Social & Health Innovation

+ 43 512 2070 - 7421


Friederike Sahling, B.Sc., M.A.

Teaching & Research Assistant

Center for Social & Health Innovation

+43 512 2070 – 7442




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Joint project of CSHI and the Social Work Department: „LYMAS“. © Austin Ramsey (Unsplash)

Joint project of CSHI and the Social Work Department: „LYMAS“. © Austin Ramsey (Unsplash)