Transnational Lives in the Welfare State (TRANSWEL)

Led by Jørgen Carling
Oct 2014 - Jul 2019

​TRANSWEL is a research project that explores what it means to live in two countries, how individuals manage such a way of life, and how it affects interactions between individuals and state institutions.

Collage1b_320x320.jpgA growing number of people live partly in one country and partly in another, for instance splitting work and leisure between two countries, spending part of the year in each, or living mainly in a country other than the one that provides social security. We call such lives 'transnational lives'. Some people are able to spend a lot of time in each country every year. Others are limited by work or children's school, for instance, but invest time and resources in both countries.

We are interested in transnational living because it concerns what it means to be part of a society, and because it as an aspect of globalization. We believe that more knowledge can help develop better policies and help reduce unnecessary bureaucratic frustrations. It is also essential for the welfare state to find ways of accommodating the fact that many people live partly witihin it and partly outside it.

The project carried out by researchers in Norway and the Netherlands. Research within the project will explore transnatinal lives that are lived partly in one of these two countries and partly in another country. The work is guided by the following objectives:

  • Document the experiences, joys, and frustrations, of living partly in one country and partly in another.
  • Find out who wants to live in two countries, as opposed to settling completely in one.
  • Examine how people who live in two countries experience the encounter with state institutions in each country.
  • Examine how state institutions in the Netherlands and Norway engage with people who lead transnational lives.
  • Explore how the welfare state can approach the benefits and challenges of transnational living.


TRANSWEL has a dedicated facebook page:

The project team

transwel team 685x200.png
The TRANSWEL team: Erik Snel, Marije Faber, Marta Bivand Erdal, Grete Brochmann, Cathrine Talleraas, Jørgen Carling, Godfried Engbersen

Participation in the project

We will be conducting interviews in Norway and the Netherlands in 2015 and 2016. In both countries we interview people who lead transnational lives. In Norway we also interview employees in specific government institutions.

Information folder

A brief presentation of the project is available for download in three languages:

Research Groups


Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Erdal, Marta Bivand (2021) Migrants’ Multifocal Sedentarism: Ambivalent Belonging and Desired Recognition in Transnational Social Fields Connecting Pakistan and Norway, Journal of Intercultural Studies. DOI: 10.1080/07256868.2021.1971167.
Carling, Jørgen; Marta Bivand Erdal & Cathrine Talleraas (2021) Living in two countries: Transnational living as an alternative to migration, Population, Space and Place 27(5): e2471.
Erdal, Marta Bivand & Jørgen Carling (2020) New economics of transnational living, Population, Space and Place 2410: 1–11.
Talleraas, Cathrine (2019) Who are the transnationals? Institutional categories beyond “migrants”, Ethnic and Racial Studies. DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2019.1599133.
Talleraas, Cathrine (2017) Reconciling transnational mobility and national social security: what say the welfare state bureaucrats?, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. DOI: 10.1080/1369183X.2017.1408461.
Carling, Jørgen (2017) Visualizing the transnational connections of China’s most African neighbourhood, Environment and Planning a 49(6): 1209–1213.

Book Chapter

Talleraas, Cathrine (2019) Complementing theories: institutional ethnography and organisation theory in institutional analysis, in W. B. Lund, Rebecca; & Ann Christin E. Nilsen, eds, Institutional Ethnography in the Nordic Region. London: Routledge (51–64).

PRIO Policy Brief

Korzeniewska, Lubomiła (2018) Paying Taxes and Accessing Welfare across Borders, PRIO Policy Brief, 11. Oslo: PRIO.
Talleraas, Cathrine & Lubomiła Korzeniewska (2018) The Morality of Transnational Social Security: When is it fair to export Norwegian social security benefits?, PRIO Policy Brief, 6. Oslo: PRIO.
Talleraas, Cathrine (2018) Combining Transnational Living and National Welfare, PRIO Policy Brief, 1. Oslo: PRIO.

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