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Download Policy Brief No. 7

Jesus Crespo Cuaresma, Peter Huber and Anna Raggl, Reaping the benefits of migration in an ageing Europe. WWWforEurope Policy Brief No. 7, March 2015

Further WWWforEurope Working and Policy Papers on Migration:

Jesus Crespo Cuaresma, Peter Huber, Doris A. Oberdabernig and Anna Raggl, Migration in an ageing Europe: What are the challenges? WWWforEurope Working Paper No. 79, January 2015

Peter Huber, What institutions help immigrants integrate? WWWforEurope Working Paper No. 77, January 2015

Thomas Horvath and Peter Huber, The impact of networks, segregation and diversity on migrants' labour market integration, WWWforEurope Working Paper No. 22, July 2013

Peter Huber and Doris A. Oberdabernig, Does migration threaten the sustainability of European welfare states? WWWforEurope Working Paper No. 21, July 2013

Dirk Dohse and Robert Gold, Cultural diversity and economic policy, WWWforEurope Working Paper No. 64, July 2014

Dirk Dohse and Robert Gold, Determining the impact of cultural diversity on regional economies in Europe, WWWforEurope Working Paper No. 58, March 2014

Alyssa Schneebaum, Bernhard Rumplmaier and Wilfried Altzinger, Gender and migration background in intergenerational educational mobility, WWWforEurope Policy Paper No. 11, February 2014

Wilfried Altzinger, Jesus Crespo Cuaresma, Petra Sauer, Alyssa Schneebaum and Bernhard Rumplmaier, Education and social mobility in Europe: Levelling the playing field for Europe’s children and fuelling its economy, WWWforEurope Working Paper No. 80, January 2015

Dirk Dohse and Robert Gold, Measuring cultural fiversity at a regional level, WWWforEurope Working Paper No. 10, June 2013

Jesus Crespo Cuaresma, Mathias Moser and Anna Raggl, On the determinants of global bilateral migration flows, WWWforEurope Working Paper No. 5, June 2013

Klaus Nowotny,  Institutions and the location decisions of highly skilled migrants to Europe, WWWforEurope Working Paper No. 78, January 2015

Peter Huber and Doris A. Oberdabernig, The impact of welfare benefits on natives' and immigrants' attitudes towards immigration, WWWforEurope Working Paper No. 82, February 2015

Making immigration worthwhile for everybody

Immigration and well working integration are crucial for the sustainability of Europe’s economic and social model. But it will be important to attract groups of migrants who will increase the human capital and the productivity of an economy. Selective processes of filtering migrants by their educational attainment do not work too well – it is much more effective to increase the “pull-factors”, to make a country attractive to its newcomers. Migrants have a preference for centralised wage bargaining, high minimum wages, low marginal tax rates and high returns to education. Additionally, researchers want to come to a country with favourable research conditions (top researchers as peers, high research grants), and young entrepreneurs will be attracted by a business and start-up friendly climate. On the whole it should not be too costly to move to another country as this would diminish skill returns and therefore deter highly skilled migrants.

But skill-attraction is not the only necessary measure. We all know that the numbers of both illegal immigrants and asylum seekers are rising. Immigrants to Europe increasingly come from low-income countries with lower educational attainment levels. To cope with this, existing policy approaches have to be reviewed. Very often, humanitarian and economic motives for migration are intertwined and they should not be separated on too strict a basis. Asylum seekers should get access to the labour markets, because sooner or later they will enter them anyway and thereby no human capital is lost. And most importantly, European countries will have to find a common and coordinated approach to humanitarian migration policies.

The task is not over once immigrants have arrived, quite on the contrary. It is important to improve and intensify introduction programs that combine language and labour market integration at an early stage, to improve the process of recognition of skills and competences (and avoiding the problem that all too often migrants are over-qualified). These policies of course should differ among temporary and permanent migrants. Therefore, a number of different and well-targeted policies are needed.

At the same time, the system as a whole has to be reviewed. Especially the education system has to be made integration-friendly. Spending much time in school, starting early with education and having central exams all increase the effectiveness of integration. Vocational and life-long training possibilities support an efficient skill transfer between migrants and natives. Additionally, more opportunities and easier access to self-employment on the labour market as well as inclusive trade unions and industrial relations institutions support integration.

Increasing diversity will make Europe more creative and innovative, but it also comes at the cost of increasing complexity. This will be especially important on the regional level where segregation processes should be prevented. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for this, but it rather has to be solved individually on the regional level. This regionalisation has to be balanced and accompanied by top-down communication and support by the European and national institutions to lead to more realistic and less prejudiced perceptions. The basis for this will require viewing immigration as a natural and positive aspect of future EU development and accepting immigration issues as an integral part of the European policy debate.