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Asylum seekers boost host country’s economies – study

27 June 20180 comments

Asylum seekers moving to Europe have raised their host nations’ economic productivity, lowered unemployment and not placed a burden on the public purse, according to new research.

A 30-year analysis of economic and migration data has found asylum seekers added to gross domestic products and boosted net tax revenues by as much as 1 per cent across 14 European countries, a study published by French economists has found.

The research published this week in the journal Science Advances comes as anti-migrant sentiment rises across Europe, where immigration peaked in 2015 with the arrival of more than a million refugees and migrants from the Middle East and Africa.

It also comes as a report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) shows the global number of refugees grew by a record 2.9 million in 2017 to 25.4 million.

The research from 1985 to 2015 looked at asylum seekers — migrants who demonstrate a fear of persecution in their homeland in order to be resettled in a new country.

“The cliche that international migration is associated with economic ‘burden’ can be dispelled,” the report authors from the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) said.

The research analysed data from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Norway, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Asylum seekers contributed most to a country’s gross domestic product after three to seven years, the research found.

They marginally lowered unemployment rates and had a near-zero impact on public finances, it said.

Greece, where the bulk of migrants fleeing civil war in Syria have entered Europe, was not included because fiscal data before 1990 were unavailable, it said.

By crunching the numbers on gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, unemployment rates and public finances, the researchers found asylum seekers entering a country had no negative effect. In fact, after three to five years, when a number were granted asylum, the new arrivals had a positive impact.

A climb in the number of migrants, meanwhile, was linked to positive changes, including a healthier GDP per capita and falling unemployment rates. Also any increase in public expenditure was balanced by a rise in tax revenues paid by the new residents.

Professor Hippolyte d’Albis, research director at the CNRS and an author of the study, said: “Immigration is a complex subject with many dimensions, but from an economic perspective the belief that immigrants will reduce the economic performance of a country is not supported by the data”.

“Restricting legal migration is likely to have negative effect on the economy; this could reduce growth and increase unemployment,” he said.

Lecturer in Economics Dr Ian Pringle said the study was more evidence that there is no convincing economic case against humanitarian migration.

But he warned against dismissing the views of residents who might personally feel a negative consequence of immigration.

“There are people who do lose out. Immigration on balance is good. But that may not be the case for every person,” said Dr Pringle, formerly of UWA.




Laurie Nowell
AMES Australia Senior Journalist