The costs and benefits of immigration to host countries
For economists, it is “wrong” to say that the reception of immigrants “adds unemployment”. “Migrants occupy often unfilled jobs, whether in construction, catering or personal services”.
London, July 7, 2018 (AltAfrica)-“Burden” or “bargain”? Immigration raises recurring questions in host countries, where intellectuals and policy makers are divided over its economic impact.
Unemployment, growth, public finances … The evaluation is complicated, the situations vary greatly according to the host territories, the time or the type of migrants (family, economic, refugees).
What impact on the job market?
In a report released in June, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) pointed out that “the refugee crisis has heightened public concern about the perceived benefits of migration”, with concerns over “wages”. or employment “.
For Emmanuelle Auriol, of the Toulouse School of Economics, however, it is “wrong” to say that the reception of immigrants “adds unemployment”. “Migrants occupy often unfilled jobs, whether in construction, catering or personal services,” she notes.
However, the massive influx of refugees can have a short-term impact on the unemployment rate, in certain regions and on certain segments of the population.
In 2012, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), a parastatal organization in the United Kingdom, estimated that 160,000 Britons had not found a job in the previous five years because of the competition generated by immigration. .
In a study published on June 20, the OECD estimated that the number of unemployed could “increase by around 6%” by December 2020 in Germany, in the absence of measures favoring “access to employment of refugees “.
A negative effect, however, considered temporary by many economists. “On average, and in the long run, studies converge to say that immigration does not have a negative effect on employment”, insists Anthony Edo, researcher at the Center for Prospective Studies and International Information (Cepii ).
What impact on growth?
“There is no doubt that migration increases the gross domestic product” of the host countries, stimulating consumption and activity, says Jean-Christophe Dumont, head of the migration department at the OECD.
In a study published mid-June, CNRS researchers also concluded, with regard to the specific case of asylum seekers and based on data from 15 European countries, that an influx of migrants led to a rise in GDP. per capita, estimated at 0.32% over two years.
“Often, arriving migrants have nothing, they need everything,” says Emmanuelle Auriol. “To give them money is therefore to make a kind of Keynesian revival plan”.
In the medium and long term, immigrants are also more likely to engage in business. According to a study by the National Venture Capital Association, out of 10,000 immigrants in the United States, 62 create a business, a rate twice as high as for natives.
According to economists at the McKinsey Global Institute, immigrants contributed nearly 10% of global GDP in 2015, compared with only 3.4% of the international population.
What impact on public finances?
Immigration is often perceived as an aggravating factor for public finances, particularly in countries like France or Italy, which are heavily indebted – the argument generally made that immigrants receive more social benefits than they contribute.
An assertion that comes from the idea, according to Anthony Edo, who judges the tax impact of immigration “globally neutral”. Because if the state must provide social protection for migrants, they are often young, and they work.
According to the OECD, foreigners are thus overrepresented in social assistance recipients in the first years after their arrival, but then contribute to the economy, because of a favorable age structure that makes them less of a burden on pensions. .
Italian social security boss Tito Boeri said this week that his country in demographic decline needed immigrants to pay its pensions, and recommended the maintenance of a legal migration flow to ensure the balance of the Italian pension fund. .