5 Articles that Help Explain the Economic Impact of Forced Migration

Metal Fence

In 2015, around 65.3 million people were globally displaced by conflict and persecution. The countries that produce half of the world’s refugees are Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia. While economic migration accounts for most of the world’s global migration, the media’s portrayal and focus on forced migration resulting from wars and conflicts has perhaps given the perception that the numbers are swayed towards the latter rather than the former.

Additionally, while economic migration has proven to be beneficial to receiving and sending countries, there are certain economic, political, and social aspects of forced migration that can also result in economic benefits to receiving countries. A significant number of these countries are economically developed but face labor shortages in specific industries, have increasingly ageing populations, and are often final destination countries of skilled and educated migrants. The following five articles help shed light on some of these surprising facts on forced migration and its impact on local economies.    

The Economic Impact of Forced Migration by Uri Dadush and Mona Niebuhr

“Concerns that accepting an increased number of forced migrants in advanced countries will cause job losses or falling wages, and place an undue burden on the public purse are largely unjustified. In most instances, in advanced countries, the arrival of young people willing to work is likely to cause a proportionate expansion of investment and output, and may also accelerate the economy’s long-term growth rate.”

4 Maps that Will Change How You See Migration in Europe by Alex Gray

“Using data from Eurostat on asylum applications between January 2015 and June 2016, Marian then mapped which countries have been most affected by the European migration crisis. Austria and Sweden were the only European countries to register an above 1% increase in their foreign-born populations as percentage of the total, while Germany showed a less than 1% increase.”

3 Observations on Migration from Davos 2016 by Khalid Koser

“What was sometimes lost in the discussions was the obvious fact that Syrians are not the only refugees in the world and Europe isn’t the only place affected by refugees. There are plenty of other migration issues that should have been explored – from how to match the global supply of and demand for labour to how to manage the global competition for talent. What's more, the discussion on refugees in Europe was also almost always cast as a crisis and humanitarian challenge. But as I have in the past argued, if properly managed, refugees in Europe may become an opportunity: to fill demographic deficits, plug labour market gaps, and create new talent.”

Migration to Europe: Travelling in Hope by The Economist

“Most are seeking a job of some kind, often to support families back home. Although they speak of escaping poverty, most will have had to scrape together large sums to pay for their journeys, often by getting relatives to chip in. Others will pay after arriving in Europe, perhaps by working as prostitutes, though they may not realise that that is what is in store for them. The journey has often been embarked on without much planning, and with little idea of what lies at its end.”

On the Economics and Politics of Refugee Migration by Christian Dustmann, Francesco Fasani, Tommaso Frattini, Luigi Minale, and Uta Schonberg

“Economic migrants are, at least conceptually, fundamentally different from refugee migrants in that the former not only choose whether or not to migrate but also decide, based on the constraints set by receiving countries, which country to migrate to, given the economic benefits of this decision. Refugee migrants, in contrast, are forced to leave their origin countries, often due to unforeseen and sudden events that put their lives at risk.”

These articles are useful to dispel some of the myths surrounding migration and take a nuanced look at the long-term effects. The migration debate is too often dominated by emotional responses that are often driven by identity politics and fear of outsiders. A rational counterweight is therefore sorely needed.