Infoscience

Journal article

Cross-Border Life in Europe: Daily Mobility in the Trinational Metropolis of Basel

In Europe about 2 million people work and live in two different countries. While at the European scale cross-border workers only account for a limited portion of the working-age population, in some regions cross-border work takes a huge importance. In these regions, cross-border work generates many impacts on local territories and on their inhabitants in terms of housing, mobility or purchasing power, especially because of the wide salary differentials between some borders regions, like between Switzerland and its neighbouring countries. Indeed, Switzerland is the country in Europe which hosts the largest amount of cross-border workers. Research on border regions focus mainly on the macroscopic aspects of cross-border relationships, such as economic integration or cross-border cooperation, leaving partly aside the effects that cross-border work has on territories or their inhabitants. Thus, this article looks at the link between cross-border work and the other aspects of daily life such as consumption or leisure and more generally living conditions in the trinational metropolis of Basel. For this purpose, we conducted a study with inhabitants of the metropolitan area of Basel, in which cross-border work is largely practised - using a mixed methods design; fifteen interviews were conducted, followed by a quantitative survey (1,615 individuals). Results show that working or not across the border, in Switzerland, has a large impact on living conditions and influences the intensity and/or the destination of cross-border practices (leisure and consumption). Whereas cross-border workers tend to favour Switzerland, this country is less financially accessible to the rest of the population. The analysis of the inhabitants’ lifestyles also highlights two issues linked to cross-border work that the trinational metropolis of Basel faces and that may cause tension in the local population, i.e. 1) the highly differentiated living conditions between cross-border workers and the rest of the population 2) the large car use of cross-border workers.

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