Welcoming hands

OECD Observer

Click to enlarge.

Can immigration help solve the effects of the projected long-term decline in the labour force of OECD countries?

Labour immigration forms the bulk of migration flows in southern Europe. In Spain, the number of foreigners tripled in 10 years, and that does not include the number of naturalisations, which increased sharply over the same period. In Italy and Portugal, the foreign population doubled. In Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Sweden, the size of foreign populations fell, as the high rate of naturalisations in these countries offset higher inflows.

But how well are foreigners and immigrants integrated into the labour market? Generally speaking, less well than nationals, and in Denmark and the Netherlands, for instance, foreigners are often at greater risk of being unemployed.

While ageing will lead to higher dependency in the OECD, importing labour from abroad might not be the only solution. Many immigrants have difficulty finding proper work or holding down long-term jobs, and can end up depending on social security themselves. Also, ageing and lower birth rates affect these populations too. On the other hand, immigrant labour can be competitive, particularly in skilled sectors, such as medical services, though this type of immigration can lead to skill shortage problems in poorer countries of origin.

©OECD Observer No 248, March 2005




Economic data

E-Newsletter

Stay up-to-date with the latest news from the OECD by signing up for our e-newsletter :

Twitter feed

Suscribe now

<b>Subscribe now!</b>

To receive your exclusive paper editions delivered to you directly


Online edition
Previous editions

Don't miss

  • How do the largest community of British expats living in Spain feel about Brexit? Britons living in Orihuela Costa, Alicante give their views.
  • Brexit is taking up Europe's energy and focus, according to OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. Watch video.
  • OECD Chief Economist Catherine Mann and former Bank of England Governor Mervyn King discuss the economic merits of a US border adjustment tax and the outlook for US economic growth.
  • Africa's cities at the forefront of progress: Africa is urbanising at a historically rapid pace coupled with an unprecedented demographic boom. By 2050, about 56% of Africans are expected to live in cities. This poses major policy challenges, but make no mistake: Africa’s cities and towns are engines of progress that, if harnessed correctly, can fuel the entire continent’s sustainable development.
  • OECD Observer i-Sheet Series: OECD Observer i-Sheets are smart contents pages on major issues and events. Use them to find current or recent articles, video, books and working papers. To browse on paper and read on line, or simply download.
  • How sustainable is the ocean as a source of economic development? The Ocean Economy in 2030 examines the risks and uncertainties surrounding the future development of ocean industries, the innovations required in science and technology to support their progress, their potential contribution to green growth and some of the implications for ocean management.
  • The OECD Gender Initiative examines existing barriers to gender equality in education, employment, and entrepreneurship. The gender portal monitors the progress made by governments to promote gender equality in both OECD and non-OECD countries and provides good practices based on analytical tools and reliable data.
  • They are green and local --It’s a new generation of entrepreneurs in Kenya with big dreams of sustainable energy and the drive to see their innovative technologies throughout Africa. blogs.worldbank.org
  • Interested in a career in Paris at the OECD? The OECD is a major international organisation, with a mission to build better policies for better lives. With our hub based in one of the world's global cities and offices across continents, find out more at www.oecd.org/careers .

Most Popular Articles

OECD Insights Blog

NOTE: All signed articles in the OECD Observer express the opinions of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the official views of OECD member countries.

All rights reserved. OECD 2017