WASHINGTON — The global financial crisis that began three years ago and the resulting economic crisis – the severest since World War II – prompted a sudden and dramatic interruption in international migration trends. And while the impacts differ from country to country, employment patterns for immigrant workers were also reshaped, with immigrants in most countries bearing a disproportionate hit as unemployment rose.
A new book released today by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), Migration and the Great Recession: The Transatlantic Experience, traces the economic downturn’s effects on migration trends, native-born and immigrant employment rates, remittance flows and public spending cuts, and other policy changes in seven major immigrant-receiving countries: the United States, Germany, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
The Great Recession brought the growth of foreign-born populations to a virtual standstill in major immigrant-receiving countries of Europe and North America, with some countries reverting to their prior histories as countries of emigration. And the economic turmoil and jobs crisis pushed many policymakers to review and reevaluate their approach toward immigration, amid tightening public budgets and growing public sentiment against immigration.
The volume details how the crisis fell unevenly upon certain groups of workers – men and youth – with even more devastating effects for immigrant men and youth. In 2010, foreign-born youth experienced unemployment rates of 41 percent in Spain, 37 percent in Sweden and 15 percent in the United States.
The book also details the changes in immigration inflows into and throughout the recession. “It remains too early to conclude whether the coming years will witness international migration flows return to pre-recession levels, or if this marks a shift in economic and immigration trajectories,” said MPI President Demetrios Papademetriou, who co-edited the volume. “With immigration flows and policies so inextricably linked to economic fortunes, it is clear that immigrants, the communities from which they come and the countries in which they have settled have been profoundly affected by the crisis and the effects are lingering on long past the formal end of the recession.”
Papademetriou, who chairs the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Migration, added: “We find that in certain countries, the impact of higher unemployment rates and severe fiscal constraints have sharpened the public debate surrounding immigration – and that is unlikely to recede for the foreseeable future.”