migration is actually good for the economy, says new report

Donald Trump and UKIP supporters, this one’s for you.

by Roisin Lanigan
21 June 2018, 11:06am

It seems that for as long as refugees and migrants have been seeking safe haven and opportunities for a better life in other countries, there has been a school of thought (or lack thereof) that argues that these people are a so-called “drain” on the economies of the countries they move to. It’s a myopic and frankly racist view, and thankfully, it’s just been proven to be completely incorrect by new research that studied host nations economies in western Europe over a period of over 30 years.

The vast study, which was published yesterday in Science Advances, used mathematical models to look at the effects of both migrants and asylum seekers on a country’s annual economic indicators. They assessed a nation’s economic wellbeing by charting average income and comparing this to population, while also examining public spending on welfare and taxes. Their model found that within two years of an influx of migrants to a new country, unemployment rates drop significantly, while economic health increases.

“Some people say they would like to welcome refugees, but that we cannot afford it,” French Economist Hippolyte d’Albis, who led the study, explained. “But we have shown that historically, it has not been a cost, and that if you do not welcome immigrants, the economy might be worse off.”

Hippolyte’s research, which studied asylum seekers from Syria and the former state of Yugoslavia as they moved across Europe, including the United Kingdom, found that after a spike in migration the overall strength of a country’s economy is actually vastly improved, largely down to the services and added taxes the immigrant population contribute to a country. The same economic upsurge happens with asylum seekers, although they take several years to take effect. This is because, in spite of the damaging -- and now clearly untrue -- stereotype that migrants and asylum seekers come to a new nation to rely on state benefits, immigrants tend to be young and working age adults who are less reliant on state benefits than older people. They come ready and willing to work.

The researchers concluded that rather than an economic crisis, migration in Europe provides an economic opportunity. “We do not deny that large flows of asylum seekers into Europe pose many political challenges both within host countries and with respect to the European coordination of national policies. However, these political challenges may be more easily addressed if the cliché that international migration is associated with economic burden can be dispelled.”