2014 | 3 | 2 | 127-149
Article title

Rural Return Migration: Comparative Analysis between Ireland and Lithuania

Title variants
Languages of publication
Globalisation is a ubiquitous influence in rural Europe, offering both opportunities and challenges. The liberalisation of travel restrictions, in addition to the growth and development of transport and global communication networks, have contributed to an international mobility that promotes patterns of migration, return migration and repeat emigration from and to rural regions. Return migration in particular represents a stimulating field of research, as thought-provoking as it is diverse. In some regions, migrants return to their native country to play a pivotal role in the economic, social, and cultural vibrancy of a local rural community, while in others, migrants find themselves excluded and isolated. Investigating this diversity of experience, this paper presents analysis of findings from research carried out as part of the FP7 DERREG1 project. Thirty-six biographies of return migrants (from the west of Ireland and Alytus County, Lithuania) were generated, allowing an understanding of how various life trajectories develop, reasons behind decisions, feelings regarding relocation and reintegration, and the experience of returning to a rural location. Drawing on transnationalism and social network theory, this paper reveals the complexity of contemporary return migration experiences and the similarities and diversities that exist between Western and Eastern Europe. Key issues to emerge include the context dependency of return migrant behaviour and their further life choices, integration, and the shift in migrants’ value priority scale from economic to social values.
  • National University of Ireland, Galway
  • Institute NeVork
  • Université du Luxembourg
  • National University of Ireland, Galway
  • National University of Ireland, Galway
  • Alytus Regional Development Council (2010). Alytus Region Development Plan 2010–2020. Online: (accessed: November 2011).
  • Barcevičius E., Žvalionytė D. (eds) (2012). Vicious Circle? The Circular Migration of Lithuanians. Vilnius: Vaga.
  • Black R., Koser K., Munk K. (2004). Understanding Voluntary Return. Home Office Online Report 50/04. Sussex: Sussex Centre for Migration Research.
  • Cassarino J. P. (2004). Theorising Return Migration: The Conceptual Approach to Return Migrants Revisited. International Journal on Multicultural Societies 6(2): 253–279.
  • Cassarino J. P. (2008). Conditions of Modern Return Migrants – Editorial Introduction. International Journal on Multicultural Societies 10(2): 95–105.
  • Castles S., Miller M. (2009). The Age of Migration. International Population Movements in the Modern World. New York: Palgrave Maxmillan.
  • CSO (Central Statistics Office) (2006). Population and Migration Estimates 2006. Dublin: CSO.
  • Chacko E. (2007). From Brain Drain to Brain Gain: Reverse Migration to Bangalore and Hyderabad, India’s Globalizing High Tech Cities. GeoJournal 68: 131–140.
  • Cid Aguayo B. E. (2008). Global Villages and Rural Cosmopolitanism: Exploring Global Ruralities. Globalizations 5(4): 541–554.
  • Cloke P. (2006). Conceptualizing Rurality, in: P. Cloke, T. Marsden, P. H. Mooney (eds), Handbook of Rural Studies, pp.18–28. London: Sage Publications.
  • Conlon D. (2009). ‘Germs’ in the Heart of the Other: Emigrant Scripts, the Celtic Tiger and Lived Reality of Return. Irish Geography 42(1): 101–117.
  • Currle E. (2006). Theorieansätze zur Erklärung von Rückkehr und Remigration. soFid Migration
  • undethnische Minderheiten 2: 7–23.
  • de Haas H., Fokkema T., Fassi Fihri M. (2014). Return Migration as Failure or Success? The Determinants of Return Migration Intentions Among Moroccan Migrants in Europe. International Migration and Integration, May 29, 2014, doi: 10.1007/s12134-014-0344-6.
  • Dustmann C., Weiss Y. (2007). Return Migration: Theory and Empirical Evidence. CReAM Discussion Paper 02/07. London: Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration.
  • Eurostat (2010). The Original OECD Urban–Rural Typology Applied to NUTS 3 Regions. Online: (accessed: November 2014).
  • Faist T. (2010). Towards Transnational Studies: World Theories, Transnationalisation and Changing Institutions. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 36(10): 1665–1687.
  • Farrell M., Mahon M, McDonagh J. (2012). The Rural as a Return Migration Destination. European Countryside 4(1): 31–44.
  • Favell A. (2008). The New Face of East–West Migration in Europe. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 34(5): 701–716.
  • Fihel A., Górny A. (2013). To Settle or to Leave Again? Patterns of Return Migration to Poland During the Transition Period. Central and Eastern European Migration Review 2(1): 55–76.
  • Garbenčiūtė L. (2013). Return Migration: Brain Recovery and Adaptation in Lithuania. The Group and the Environment 3: 43–72.
  • Glorius B. (2014). Understanding the Counter-Flow. Theoretical and Methodological Aspects in Studying Remigration Processes after EU Expansion, in: B. Glorius, I. Grabowska–Lusinska, A. Kuvik (eds), Mobility in Transition, pp. 217–236. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.
  • Gmelch G. (1980). Return Migration. Annual Review of Anthropology 9: 135–159.
  • Halfacree K. H. (1995). Out of Place in the Country: Travellers and the ‘Rural Idyll.’ Antipode 28: 42–72.
  • Halfacree K. (2011). Heterolocal Identities? Counter-Urbanisation, Second Homes, and Rural Consumption in the Era of Mobilities. Population, Space and Place 18(2): 209–224.
  • Hillmann F. (2007). Migration als räumliche Definitionsmacht? Beiträge zu einer neuen Geographie der Migration in Europa. Erdkundliches Wissen 141. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner.
  • Hunter A. (2010). Theory and Practice of Return Migration at Retirement: the Case of Migrant Worker Hostel Residents in France. Population, Space and Place 17(2): 179–192.
  • IOM (International Organisation for Migration) in Lithuania (2011). Migration Profile: Lithuania. Online: (accessed: 20 May 2014).
  • Jones R. (2003). Multinational Investment and Return Migration in Ireland in the 1990s – A County-Level Analysis. Irish Geography 32(2): 153–169.
  • Kairytė E. (2014, forthcoming). Greater Globalization Challenges – Lesser Rural Responses: The Case of Alytus County, Lithuania, in: J. McDonagh, B. Nienaber, M. Woods (eds), Globalization and Europe’s Rural Regions. Farnham: Ashgate.
  • Karakayali S. (2011). Migration und Flucht, in: A. Niederberger, P. Schink (eds), Globalisierung. Ein interdisziplinäres Handbuch, pp. 180–187. Stuttgart, Weimar: Verlag J. B. Metzler.
  • Klagge B., Klein-Hitpaß K. (2010). High-Skilled Return Migration and Knowledge-Based Development in Poland. European Planning Studies 18(10): 1631–1651.
  • Klein–Hitpaß K. (2013). Und ewig lockt die Heimat: der polnische Remigrationsprozess seit 1989 und seine Implikationen für Wirtschaft und Politik. Europa Regional 19(1): 19–40.
  • Kubat D. (1984). The Politics of Return. International Return Migration in Europe, Proceedings of the First European Conference on International Return Migration, Rome, 11–14 November 1981. New York: Centre for Migration Studies.
  • Levitt P. (2001). The Transnational Villagers. London: University of California Press Ltd.
  • Massey D., Arango J., Hugo G., Kouaouci A., Pelligrino A., Taylor J. E. (1998). Worlds in Motion: Understanding International Migration at the End of the Millennium. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  • Migration in Numbers (2014). A joint project of Lithuanian Ministry of the Interior, Statistics Lithuania, Migration Department, Lithuanian Labour Exchange, European Migration Network (EMN), International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Vilnius Office. Online: (accessed: April 2014).
  • Milbourne P. (2007). Re-Populating Rural Studies: Migrations, Movements and Mobilities. Journal of Rural Studies 23(3): 381–386.
  • Ní Laoire C. (2007). The ‘Green Green Grass of Home’? Return Migration to Rural Ireland. Journal of Rural Studies 23(3): 332–344.
  • Ní Laoire C. (2008). ‘Settling Back’? A Biographical and Life-Course Perspective on Ireland’s Recent Return Migration. Irish Geography 41(2): 195–210.
  • Noble C. (2013). Return Migration and Belonging in Rural Ireland: Methodological Considerations. Journal of Rural and Community Development 8(3): 279–290.
  • Panelli R. (2006). Rural Society, in: P. Cloke, T. Marsden, P. H. Mooney (eds), Handbook of Rural Studies, pp. 63–90. London: Sage Publications.
  • Pries L. (2009). Transnationalisation and the Challenge of Differentiated Concepts of Space. Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie 100(5): 587–597.
  • Pries L. (2010). Transnationalisierung. Theorie und Empirie grenzüberschreitender Vergesellschaftung. Wiesbaden: Springer VS.
  • RAIT Market Analysis and Research Group (2010). Results of Population Poll. Alytus Region Development Plan 2010–2020, Annex 2. Online: (accessed: February 2011).
  • Sipavičienė, A., Cock, V., and Dobryninas, M. (2009). Return migration: theoretical insights and the situation in Lithuania.
  • Smoliner S., Förschner M., Hochgerner J., Nová J. (2013). Comparative Report on Re-Migration Trends in Central and Eastern Europe, in: T. Lang. (ed.), Return Migration in Central Europe: Current Trends and An Analysis of Policies Supporting Returning Migrants, pp. 11–57. IfL Forum 21. Leipzig: Leibniz-Institut für Länderkunde.
  • Statistics Lithuania (2012). Counties of Lithuania 2011. Vilnius: Lietuvos statistikos departamentas.
  • Steger M. B. (2009). Globalization: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford Press.
  • Thaut L. (2009). EU Integration & Emigration Consequences: The Case of Lithuania. International Migration 47(1): 191–233.
  • Urry J. (2007). Mobilities. Cambridge: Polity Press.
  • Woods M. (2003). Deconstructing Rural Protest: The Emergence of a New Social Movement. Journal of Rural Studies 19(3): 309–325.
  • Woods M. (2007). Engaging the Global Countryside: Globalization, Hybridity and the Reconstitution of Rural Places. Progress in Human Geography 31(4): 485–507.
  • Woods M. (2011). Rural. Abingdon, New York: Routledge.
Document Type
Publication order reference
YADDA identifier
JavaScript is turned off in your web browser. Turn it on to take full advantage of this site, then refresh the page.