International Migration and the Economic Crisis: Understanding the Links and Shaping Policy Responses

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Abstract:

While it is too early to have a clear view of the full impact of the unfolding economic crisis on net migration flows, the expected consequences on labour market outcomes of immigrants are unambiguous: past experience has shown that immigrants are among those hardest hit in the labour market during a downturn.

In most OECD countries, immigrants have made an important contribution to employment growth during the past decade. In some cases, relatively easy access to labour through international recruitment has contributed to limit wage increases and to fuel the expansion phase. The big rise in the construction sector in several OECD countries is illustrative of this phenomenon. This means that the deterioration in labour market conditions will probably be stronger in countries which have recently witnessed the most rapid increase in migration flows (e.g. Ireland, Spain, the United Kingdom or, to a lesser extent, the United States). More generally, given their characteristics and distribution across sectors, migrant workers are expected to be particularly vulnerable to changes in the labour market due to the economic downturn.

Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: June 1, 2009

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