The number of immigrants in Europe has decreased since the start of the global recession. The main reason was the decrease of demand for retail and construction workers, says an OECD study.
The study aimed at Norway, Switzerland, and the European states which are members of both the EU and OECD.
In 2009, when the recession was at its highest, the number of immigrants in EU was 22 percent less than in previous year.
The largest drop, 46 percent, took place in the Czech Republic, followed by Ireland with a 42 percent decrease. The decrease in other countries was less significant – 25 percent in Italy, and 18 percent in Spain and Switzerland.
The only exception from this trend was Great Britain, where the number of immigrants actually increased by 14 percent in 2009. This was also the largest increase among all OECD member states.
According to a report published by t he European Statistical Office, 43 percent of immigrants in EU were from other member states, and 57 percent came from the rest of the world. The Eurostat estimated the total number of immigrants in EU on 3.2 million.
More female immigrants
The number of immigrants decreased not only in Europe, but in other parts of the world as well. The downward trend was reported in Australia, Japan, or South Korea.
However, the number of immigrants employed in education and health care has increased in Europe since the crisis. The number of female immigrants is up as well – in most cases, they are women trying to find an additional income for their families after their husbands lost jobs.
The number of female immigrants increased the most in Hungary and Greece.
Integration? A long-term investment
The OECD also said that given the extent of the crisis, it had estimated even sharper drop in migration. The number of immigrants decreased only slightly during the crisis though, and once markets are recovered, it will increase again.
Angel Gurría, Secretary General of OECD, argues that the immigration will resume because of the ever growing globalization and lack of workforce in Europe.
According to OECD, the best side of immigration is the fact that immigrants tend to be more entrepreneurial than local population, above all in Poland, Czech Republic, and France. The countries should see the integration of immigrants as a long-term investment, rather than a short-time cost, argues the organization.
However, currently there is a growing support for anti-immigration parties all over Europe. Voices calling for a revision of the Schengen treaty on free movement of people are being heard in France, Germany, or Denmark.
Also, most of the EU-15 group have applied their right to limit the access of new member states’ citizens to their job markets for seven years.