Are migrants good for the host country’s economy?

Authored by: Nazmun N. Ratna

Routledge Handbook of Immigration and Refugee Studies

Print publication date:  October  2015
Online publication date:  October  2015

Print ISBN: 9781138794313
eBook ISBN: 9781315759302
Adobe ISBN: 9781317638773


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International migration is driven not only by push factors at countries of origin but also by pull factors at countries of destination. Immigrant workers often come to fill labour market gaps in destination countries, whether in jobs that native workers are no longer willing to take or filling in shortages in specific skills or sectors that are rapidly expanding and where the domestic labour force cannot meet the demand of the labour market. The fact that migrants fill in shortages in the labour market does not necessarily mean that they are good for the host country’s economy. In addition, there is a general apathy towards immigration among the groups of native workers who feel threatened of being replaced by ‘cheaper’ immigrant workers. Indeed, the impact of migration on the host country’s economy is possibly the most crucial question that policy makers have to answer. Furthermore, it is a question that can drive changes in immigration policies as well as ignite fervent debates in the media and other forms of public discourse. The economic rationale for immigration is key to policy decisions, particularly in immigrant nations, such as Canada, New Zealand or Australia, faced with skill shortages in the labour market. In settler nations, such as the USA, the UK, France or Germany, the incipient debates over immigration revolve around immigrants’ welfare dependency, impact on native workers, and specifically for the USA, the labour market impact of illegal immigrants.

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