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Project Description

The most important information about the project and its content is summarized on this page.

The Project in Bullet Points

First Wave (EU-Project)

  • Title: Job Mobilities and Family Lives in Europe
  • Subtitle: Modern Mobile Living and its Relation to Quality of Life
  • Acronym: JobMob and FamLives
  • Funded by: European Commission, Sixth Framework Programme for research and technological development
  • Total Budget: 1,277,350 Euro
  • Total Costs: 1,772,550 Euro
  • Duration: 31 months, from February 2006 to October 2008.
  • Participating countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Poland, Spain, Switzerland
  • Participating institutes and scientists
  • Project Coordinator: Norbert F. Schneider (Wiesbaden, Germany)

Second Wave

  • Duration: since 2010
  • Participating countries: France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland
  • Participating institutes and scientists
  • The funding depended on each national team’s own initiative. In France and Switzerland the survey was supported by the Mobile Lives Forum and in Spain by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (CSO2010-10800-E).


The project studies job-related spatial mobility, its causes, its obstacles, and its interaction with job career and with the private sphere. This includes partnership and family development, social integration, and the subjective well-being. In each of the participating countries, a survey is carried out, collecting for the first time representative data on job mobilities.


This project seeks to improve European work-life balance under conditions of contemporary mobility requirements by gathering and disseminating information for individuals, employers, and policy makers regarding job-related spatial mobility. The aims are to:

  • improve our understanding of structural and cultural conditions under which spatial mobility is realised,
  • enhance individual competencies at managing mobile lifestyle demands,
  • develop and strengthen political and economic strategies to reduce the strains caused by spatial job mobility.

The outcomes of the project are available in terms of numerous publications.

Main Research Areas

The questions of interest cover three main research areas:

  1. Phenomenology: Describing the spread of mobility requirements and the affected social groups. Describing the various forms in which Europeans meet labour market demands to become mobile (e.g. daily long-distance commuting, weekly commuting, relocating, etc.). Describing the quantity and distribution of these realised job mobilities in the participating countries.
  2. Explanation: Understanding decision processes regarding job mobility. Identifying individual motivations and restraints as well as structural and cultural triggers and barriers to becoming mobile. Identifying motivations and restraints, triggers and barriers to choosing a specific form of mobility,
  3. Consequences: Identifying the consequences of mobile living under various conditions: the advantages and strains, the impacts on the job career and on the private sphere.

For the goals (2) and (3), special attention is given to the interaction of job mobility with family formation, partnership and family development, partnership and family relations, social integration, subjective well-being, and quality of life. The explanation (2) draws additionally on individual characteristics and attitudes as well as on macro and meso level structures and cultures.


The subject of the study is spatial mobility for occupational reasons. Of special interest are all manifestations of job mobility over a relatively long distance.

These may be:

  • in forms of singular events like: relocating or migrating for job-reasons or
  • in forms of recurring/circular mobility like: daily long-distance commuting to work, long-distance relationship for job reasons, staying often over-night away from home (seasonal workers, weekly commuters, people with varying work places, etc.).

Theoretical Background

Using a subjectively expected utility approach, the study assumes that individuals react to occupational mobility demands, following own needs, which interact with subjective perceptions and priorities. Reflecting rationally about how to handle mobility demands in their own best interest, individuals consider conditions on the macro, meso, and micro level. Simultaneously they are influenced in their perceptions and priorities by cultural settings on the macro, meso, and micro level. This framework is inspired by the concept of motility.

  • Macro level: Individuals take structural conditions into account, such as access to a transportation infrastructure or labour market conditions. Furthermore, they are influenced by mobility cultures in society, such as a general public opinion regarding how much time one should spend together with the partner and family.
  • Meso level: Individuals consider characteristics of their social network, work place, or town, such as the local labour market or the attractiveness of spending time in local neighbourhoods and clubs. Additionally they are influenced by local sub-cultures in their network, work place, or town.
  • Micro level: Individuals consider their own skills and their life situation regarding job, family, etc. Simultaneously, they are influenced by their individual beliefs and attitudes. Both, skills, life situation, beliefs, and attitudes are shaped by socio-demographic characteristics (age, gender, etc.).

Between these phenomena and job mobility, reciprocal interactions are assumed. The understanding of these interdependencies is enriched with stress theories and theories of quality of life.


The project, with regard to the first wave, collected quantitative, representative, and comparable data for the six participating countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Poland, Spain, and Switzerland) in a fully standardised cross-sectional survey. The universe was defined as the residential population, aged between 25 and 54 years. The interviews were carried out by survey institutes in spring 2007 as telephone interviews (CATI), with the exception of Poland where face-to-face interviews (CAPI) were conducted.

The first wave consists of two samples:

  • The first Sample (S1) collected data on mobile and immobile people. It allows representative statistics regarding all variables. Analyses are possible also on those who refused to become mobile or never were exposed to mobility demands. The sample size is n=5,552.
  • The second Sample (S2) was conducted with mobile persons only, to get a sufficient number of cases for analyses on the different forms of mobility. The interviewees were selected with screening interviews. Within S2, which is a fully randomised sample for mobile individuals, the same questionnaire was used as in S1. The sample size is n=1,668.

Between 2010 and 2012, a second wave of the survey was carried out. It consists of a follow-up survey that was completed in four countries (Germany, Spain, Switzerland and France) and of additional surveys oversampling highly mobile individuals in Germany and France:

  • In the follow-up survey, 1,735 respondents from the initial survey could be interviewed again (overall response rate: 34.5%). The resulting panel structure provides a deeper insight into the research interests by providing an opportunity for longitudinal analysis. Moreover, this opportunity is enhanced by a collection of extensive retrospective data about spatial mobility, employment, partnership and family. The survey also includes new content with topics such as social integration, volunteerism and social mobility.
  • In the additional surveys, 499 randomly selected, job-related spatially mobile individuals were interviewed in Germany and France. It aimed to increase the number of people who were spatially mobile for job-related reasons in order to provide a large enough subsample to analyse the situation of these mobile people in a differentiated way.

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