The EU Migrant Generation in Asia. Middle-Class Aspirations in Asian Global Cities

Helena Hof

- completed -

Drawing on a longitudinal qualitative study with young Europeans who migrated to Singapore and Tokyo in the 2010s, this book sheds light on the life course effects of early-career migration and on the changing outlook of the immigrant receiving countries of Singapore and Japan. The book demonstrates how migration to Asian business centres has become a way of distinction and an alternative way of middle-class reproduction for young Europeans during that period. It also reveals how the perceived insecurities of life in the crisis-ridden EU result in these migrants’ onward migration or prolonged stays in Asia. Capturing the changing roles of Singapore and Japan as migration destinations, this pioneering work makes the case for EU citizens’ aspired lifestyles and professional employment that is no longer only attainable in Europe or the West. After years of working experience and of building a life and networks in the two cities, Singapore and Tokyo – and for some migrants, other Asian hubs – have become temporary homes. Having spent the crucial first life stage of ‘full’ adulthood and economic  independence in Asia, the migrants have established grounds for a middle-class lifestyle that they might not be able to replicate easily in their home countries or elsewhere. Singapore’s and Japan’s changing migration regimes, however, pose different barriers to the migrants, which results in the Europeans’ ambiguous feelings towards their differentiated embedding in the host societies.


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