After 1989, there have been changes in internal migration in Hungary, triggered by
several factors such as economic transformation, accelerated suburbanisation and transport
development. Increasing internal migration has affected each settlement differently,
and from a demographic point of view there are also "winners" and "losers" in this
process. Sopron, with almost 63,000 inhabitants, can be counted among the first group,
as the town on the Austrian border is one of the most attractive destinations for
Hungarian internal migration. In the past, the number of in-migrants usually exceeded
the number of out-migrants. The differences depended largely on socio-economic transformations
and the political situation of the respective period. In this study, we assess Sopron's
position in internal migration and analyse how the different types of internal migration
have contributed to migration gains. Based on our empirical research, we show the
main demographic and spatial-structural characteristics of the in-migrants to Sopron.
In addition, we examine whether there are significant differences in the composition
of migrants who arrived before and after the economic crisis of 2008, respectively.
In recent decades, the population of Sopron has grown steadily, while the populations
in rural and other urban areas have declined. The main reason for the increase was
the positive domestic migration balance which increased significantly after the turn
of the millennium. Between 1990 and 2016, the population of the town rose by 13,000.
This migration gain is primarily due to a temporary inflow. The most important reasons
for the significant in-migration to Sopron were: a location-specific advantage after
1989 due to the nearby border, improved accessibility, relative proximity to the Austrian
capital and the developed towns of neighbouring Burgenland and, finally, the abolition
of all labour market restrictions in Austria in 2011. The results of our survey reveal
that the latest economic crisis has brought a significant change in the demographic
composition of in-migrants after the turn of the millennium. The newcomers who arrived
after 2009 were generally older, less-educated and found low-paying jobs in agriculture,
industry and building construction. Their in-migration to Sopron was mainly motivated
by job opportunities in Austria. The spatial pattern of their workplaces shows that
they usually work in the region of the Austrian capital. Sopron's attraction extended
almost over the whole country, and more and more in-migrants arrived from the less
developed parts of Hungary. The new unfavourable trends observed in the social characteristics
of in-migrants after 2009 may yet lead to changes in the local society and how it
views their future integration.