Birgitta Ericsson presents research results at the 5th European Congress for Local Governments in Krakow, Poland, on April 8th. Ericsson and  Eva Olsson from Karlstad University present “Cross border commuting: obstacles, patterns and need for cross border cooperation»:

The national border between Norway and Sweden is “an engine” for mobility regarding work related commuting from Sweden to Norway, and leisure related ‘commuting’ from Norway to Sweden. Fuel for the engine is a flourishing economy in Norway and the opposite in Sweden. Norwegians travel to buy consumer goods, property (second homes) and tourism products in Sweden. The Swedish border region profits on well off and extensive markets in densely populated areas in adjacent Norwegian (border) regions, and Swedes on well paid jobs in Norway.

Living in Sweden and working in Norway minimizes living costs and maximizes wages – a win-win situation. Distances to job opportunities in Norway makes it comfortable to commute daily as is else the normal situation in intranational commuting. AND – the choice to commute across the border is a long-term voluntarily chosen lifestyle, and not regarded a burden as often seen in other commuting.

Even if barriers regarding culture, attitudes and language are low and thus lubricate other pull factors on the individual level, there are systemic differences in politics, rules and regulations, e.g. different tax and social security systems, which creates “paper hassle”. The Nordic countries have since the 1950’ies had free access to each other’s labor markets, but there still remain work to be done to harmonize and ease a cross border mobility which in the end is beneficial for both countries.