The Baltic Region

Current issue

The effect of Covid-19 on labour migration in the CIS

Abstract

This study responds to the need for measures to mitigate the effects of national actions to slow the spread of Covid-19. National responses are dynamic processes and thus an elusive, albeit important, object of study. The governments of most CIS countries acted promptly and decisively in countering the pandemic. The comprehensive measures have had a serious impact on citizens’ mobility and employment situation. Among the affected are millions of migrants working in the CIS. This article offers a comparative analysis, followed by synthesis, of the negative effects of the Covid-19 pandemic as seen through the prism of employment and the situation of migrant workers in the CIS. Another focus is the restriction and support measures and how they have affected migrants. A range of qualitative and quantitative data was collated on the situation of migrant workers during Covid-19 restriction in the Russian Federation and across the CIS. The findings suggest that the lack of international coordination in tackling Covid-19 has complicated the situation of migrant workers, who suffer from the closure of borders and the absence of adequate social support. The article explores problems faced by migrant workers in the current crisis and proposes measures to alleviate them.

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Work-life balance during the Covid-19 outbreak: the case of Latvia

Abstract

This paper aims to shed light on work-life balance in Latvia during the state of emergency. The Covid-19 outbreak has led many governments to introduce lockdowns. While imposed restrictions may help to contain the spread of the virus, they may also result in substantial damage to population well-being. The Covid-19 outbreak in Latvia demonstrates the extent and ways in which socio-demographics factors have determined different patterns of behaviour, attitudes, employment changes and harmonised work and life balance. The study describes the chronological development of Covid-19 in the country. It describes labour migration to and from Latvia before the COVID-19 outbreak. It provides geographical features of the distribution of confirmed Covid-19 cases. The extent of the Covid-19 threat at different levels is assessed focusing on the global, national, regional and intra-family level. Finally, work forms and work-life balance are analysed according to geography and age groups.

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The labour market of Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave amid Covid-19

Abstract

The Covid-19 pandemic, which has swept across the globe, is a serious challenge to the Russian labour market. This article examines the consequences of Covid-19 for Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave and how its territorially isolated and lockdown-affected small labour market responds to drastic changes in employment, income, and consumption. Another question is how the immigrant-rich labour market will rebalance the supply-demand equation. Official statistics from the regional government and its subordinate bodies shows that the Kaliningrad regional labour market has been severely battered by shutdown measures. This particularly applies to organisations operating in the most sensitive industries: manufacturing, hospitality, tourism, estate, transport, and warehousing. The unemployment has gone up, reaching a level above the national average; the number of vacancies is dwindling. Keeping the proportion of out-of-the-region workforce at the usual level may aggravate the situation. Although effective, the measures taken by the regional authorities seem insufficient for an isolated regional labour market.

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Disease control and border lockdown at the EU’s internal borders during Covid-19 pandemic: the case of Finland

Abstract

The article discusses the lockdown of the EU’s internal borders during the Covid-19 pandemic in Finland. Special attention is paid to bordering as a means of disease control and the governments’ aim to “protect the population and secure functions of society”. Not only did the government restrict flights and ‘non-essential’ travel from non-Schengen countries such as Russia, China and Thailand but, with some exceptions, it also restricted travel-to-work commuting and everyday cross-border encounters between Finland and its Schengen neighbours of Sweden, Norway and Estonia. The restrictions hampered tourism and migrant-dependent industries as well as complicated the lives of migrants’ families. While the lockdown of the Estonian and Russian border does not cause any debates in Finnish society, the closure of the Finnish-Swedish border that has been completely open since the 1950s and the new regime led to a debate of citizens’ constitutional rights and to civil disobedience that materialised in semi-legal border crossings.

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Impact of remigration on the worksphere under Covid-19: the case of Lithuania

Abstract

Remigration opens up the opportunity for a country to see the return of its citizens from migration, bringing with them their ideas, knowledge, values and skills. The work sphere is one of the main areas where these social remittances can be used. Still, very little attention is paid to the workplace in social remittance literature. Therefore, the first aim of this article is to explore the types of remigrants’ social remittances, the ways they are transmitted and their acceptance in the work sphere. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the work sphere was heavily affected as many workplaces were closed because of the quarantine and requirements to maintain social distancing. Thus, the second aim of this article is to investigate the impact of Covid-19 on the transfer of remigrants’ social remittances to the work sphere. The article is based on 15 interviews with highly-qualified remigrants and five interviews with their colleagues working in Lithuania. The interviews were conducted in May–July 2020 within the project ‘Social remittances of remigrants for society welfare growth: challenges and experiences in a comparative perspective’, financed by the Research Council of Lithuania.

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Transformation of global value chains in Russia and the Baltics amid Covid-19: prospects for regionalization and implications for economic policy

Abstract

Although Russia and the Baltics have historically been economic partners, the economic relations between them are tense today. Nearly stagnating bilateral trade contributes little to the development of either side. The Baltics-Russian bilateral trade conducted within global value chains (GVC) and operations of multinational companies is much more resistant to geopolitical and economic shocks than traditional international trade. In particular, the accession of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania to the EU and NATO in 2004 and the introduction of reciprocal EU-Russia sanctions in 2014 did not curb GVC activities between Russia and the Baltics. The article discusses factors in the transformation of the Baltics-Russian GVCs amid COVID-19. The research aims to prove regionalisation as a viable prospect for the transformation of global value chains in Russia and the Baltics. In the medium term, regionalisation is possible as (1) part of global trends towards GVC transformation in the industries in which Russia and the Baltics traditionally specialise; (2) as a response to the long-term structural challenges faced by Russia and the Baltics in creating a new generation of internationally competitive firms; (3) as a result of companies tackling the effects of the pandemic against the background of historically stable relationships; (4) as a product of strong social contacts and soft power. GVC regionalisation will be driven by individual companies, regional (local) governments, and Russian-Baltic cross-border cooperation initiatives. Finally, repercussions for Russian and Baltic politics are discussed alongside GVC regionalisation benefits for all the parties involved.

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Communication of Covid-19 consequences in the Baltic States inforsphere

Abstract

This article seeks to describe the dynamics of Covid-19 in the Baltic States and to analyse the ways of communicating the threat and its consequences. Particular attention is paid to the media strategies pursued in the study area. The research is based on Russian and English texts from the Baltic media, WHO official documents and datasets, as well as initiatives of the Baltic Sea region organisations (2020) counteracting Covid-19. A combination of these sources builds up an objective view of the situation and demonstrates how the pandemic and its consequences are represented in public consciousness given a certain pragmatic goal. The pandemic is a new type of threat; its consequences demonstrate a tendency towards negative synergy and a category shift from soft threats to hard ones. The research shows that several key strategies — counter-active, projective, conservative, mobilising, resilient, and reflective — are used to communicate the threat and its consequences in the media.

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