Migration challenge

©Rodi Said/REUTERS

"European leaders must stand before history in dealing with this humanitarian tragedy. They have the experience and the capacity to respond to this emergency and chart the path for a long-term solution," said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría in a statement on a French-German refugee initiative issued Friday 4 September.

Refugees form a specific type of migration, and the current wave comes at a time when public attention has been focused on migration more broadly, including economic migration. 

In general, heated debates about migration are often tainted by clichés: that immigrants steal jobs or free ride on social benefits, for instance, or that they are a cost to society. As Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Migration Peter Sutherland points out, people in most developed countries believe that there are three times as many immigrants residing in their country as there really are.

Yet, immigrants bring clear benefits to destination countries, OECD research finds. “In terms of employment, countries that are home to larger proportions of immigrants tend to have better outcomes”, OECD expert Thomas Liebig writes, arguing that immigrants represent a net benefit to their country of destination. Migrants pay taxes, invest and bring innovation, while their savings lodged in host countries total nearly €400 billion today.

The picture is not all rosy, however, particularly for the children of immigrants who suffer discrimination and poor job prospects. Some do well, such as a Syrian refugee who made headlines in France by scoring highly in the French Baccalaureate after just three years in the country. But  more widely in EU countries, one in five children of immigrants feels discriminated against, and even when they find a job, they are often more overqualified than their native peers, according to Indicators of Immigrant Integration 2015: Settling In.

The annual OECD International Migration Outlook will be issued on 22 September. Watch out for details.

©OECD Observer September 2015

OECD's Gurría expresses support for new French-German initiative in response to refugee crisis

Liebig, Thomas (2015), “Are migrants settling in?”, published on http://oecdinsights.org

Sutherland, Peter (2015), “We must harness the true strength of migration”, in OECD Yearbook 2015, OECD Publishing.

(2014), “Tolerance in crisis”, in OECD Observer 299, Q2, OECD Publishing.

Keeley, Brian (2013), “The impact of immigrants: It’s not what you think”, published on http://oecdinsights.org

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