10. July 2012
OECD: crisis increases migration
With the continuing international debt crisis, migrants are streaming increasingly to Germany, Switzerland and Austria, where they usually find work. This is the conclusion drawn by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the organisation of major industrial nations with headquarters in Paris, in its Migration Outlook 2012, presented in Brussels and Berlin.
The Germans are comingAccording to the OECD, the typical top mass migrant to Austria has a clear profile: usually qualified or on the way to becoming an academic (‘student invasion’), (already) speaks German and comes (no surprise) from Germany. In 2010, 98,300 people immigrated to Austria (66,400 emigrated). Top of the immigrant list by far were Germans with 17,800 followed by Romanians and Serbs. Turkey was in fifth place with 4,000 immigrants, on a par with Poland, Slovakia and Hungary. Preliminary figures for 2011 would appear to indicate a further increase in migrant flows. The fact is that no other EU country has such a strong influx of citizens from other EU countries than Austria, and the trend looks to continue, still headed by Germans. The opening of labour markets in the East has given rise to new trends: classic countries of origin are losing their significance, slightly in the case of Serbia and hugely in the case of Turkey. In their place there are increasing numbers of Romanian, Hungarian and Bulgarian immigrants to Austria.
Labour market trendsMigration trends registered by the OECD experts are somewhat contradictory. One positive example in which Austria is prevailing against massive international trends: in the last four years the employment rate of all migrants to Austria has improved by 2 per cent (and 4 per cent in Germany). The situation in the olive-growing countries of southern Europe is quite the opposite, particularly in Spain. Because of the euro and debt crises Spaniards and Greeks have become new migrants and are fleeing their countries, with figures doubling every year, even if they are still relatively low for the time being. In the earlier boom years, millions of migrants streamed to Spain and even today more head there than to Germany. Most seek jobs in the construction industry. After the collapse of the real estate business and the escalation of the debt crisis many of them lost their jobs. Now millions of these migrants are trapped in the south, not only in Spain but also in Italy, Greece and Portugal. Thomas Liebig, co‑author of the OECD study says that the most important political challenge for the future will be to give these millions of unemployed migrants a perspective.
Crisis causes escalating migrationThe crisis has a clear influence on migration. Initially the international crisis slowed it down. In the OECD countries it fell in 2010 for the third year in succession, but started to rise again in 2011 and also affected Austria. According to provision figures 15 per cent more foreigners settled in Austria than in the previous year. Throughout the OECD region there was only a slight increase. Migration to Austria, according to the OECD, is to be explained above all by the free movement in the enlarged European Union. In 2010 the new member states were responsible for almost 64 per cent of the migrants, compared with less than 2 per cent from the non-enlarged EU. Family reunification accounted for around 24 per cent of the migrants and humanitarian grounds for 10 per cent. In terms of per capita migration Austria is about average for the OECD with Switzerland far in the lead. In the current debt crisis situation people from crisis countries are increasingly looking to German-speaking central Europe for jobs and usually find positions, in contrast to southern Europe.
Migration only with job offerAccording to the OECD calculations, Europe is drifting apart. The Organisation cites two main reasons: the euro crisis and the opening of labour markets to Eastern countries. Since then citizens of the single market have been able to live where they want, without political control, on the basis of labour market supply and demand. As a result migration in the crisis countries of southern Europe has fallen dramatically in the last few years and has risen quickly and manifestly in countries with flourishing economies, much more dynamically than in traditional immigrant countries like the USA or Australia. OECD expert Thomas Liebig has also identified another trend: in many countries migrants are allowed only if they have a job offer. He says that overqualified taxi drivers is not a political goal worth striving for. At the same time he warns against the new trend towards more restrictive measures. This gives several grounds for concern, particularly with the many unemployed young migrants who urgently need jobs and prospects for the future. A restrictive migration policy could also have a negative influence in the future on population ageing and safeguarding the social systems of OECD countries, he concludes.
OECD, Lang Mario, Gudrun Krieger