The European Union has been a hotbed of immigration in recent years, especially given the refugee crises that create the massive displacement of civilians in the Middle East. It is without a doubt that these influxes of immigration have multiple impacts on the European Union. As a part of my group’s assessment of these impacts, I will be assessing the social, cultural, and economic effects the European Union has seen and expects to see from immigration.
To begin, it is important to consider the cultural differences between the migrants and the residents of their destination states; many immigrants are Muslim and non-English speaking. As a result, the impacts, especially the cultural and social, are more profound. Security fears run stronger, as many are worried that immigration from these dangerous regions is likely to bring dangerous people, such as with the 2015 terrorist attack in France. Germany has been one of the most accepting countries in the context of immigration, and the social impacts are apparent. Especially during the height of the 2015 immigration crisis, Germany ran into problems with public safety following the influx of people from other nations. However, despite the rocky road, Germany has stood as an example for other nations to consider taking immigrants fleeing war, despite the costs. However, as the 2017 French elections come closer, policies on immigration hang in the balance, as Marine Le Pen plans to tighten down on the “mad, uncontrolled situation” regarding immigration in France, if she is to be victorious in her campaign. Meanwhile, her primary opponent, Emmanuel Macron, does not echo her approach. He also plans to stay loyal to the rest of the European Union, saying that France needs Europe and vice versa. Effects immigration could have on the policies in the EU and within the respective nations will be under the analysis of Justin Hagerty in his portion of this assignment.
There are also concerns over the impact immigration will have economically over the workforce of the destination states. People are worried that the influx of low-skill labor may drag down wages and hurt the public wealth from the supportive needs of the incoming refugees. However, according to The Economist, the true economic effects upon Germany from immigration have been measly at worst. A paper found that the 10% rise in migrants coming in to work low skill jobs dropped the wages for such positions by only 2%. And even so, the drop in wages could have a positive effect by motivating workers to prepare themselves for higher skill work. Although attempting to paint a positive outlook, the Economist does concede that it will likely take a while before the refugees start to pay more in taxes than they receive in public support. The language and culture barrier is also very likely to amplify the slow nature of this process, as it takes far longer for the immigrants to adjust and become productive than it otherwise would had they already been English speaking Europeans.
Economicshelp.com gives a considerable amount of detail into the question of how this immigration affects the economy of Europe. Most immigrants that come to Europe are in their mid 20s-30s and often return to their countries of origin as they near retirement age. Because of this particular age group being so common, this increases the total amount of labor force potential for economic output, as well as increases the need for economic demand via consumption. As a result, the GDP of countries that see immigration like this expands, but the GDP per capita is the more important telling factor in the actual shifts in wealth for individuals. Immigration of this age group also decreases the proportion of the population that is dependent, as there come to be more taxpayers and proportionally fewer retirees and very young people. However, in the case of housing shortages, such as with parts of the UK, living standards can get worse. According to the writing, a report by the University College of London suggest that immigrants had a positive fiscal contribution, particularly for migrants in the past ~20 years. Moreover, the impact of immigrants on the economy greatly depends on their skillset; as a result, the UK is allowing immigrants who are skilled first and foremost.
There is no doubt that immigration to the European Union is a mixed bag. Cultural differences can divide, and rising populations can put strain on the public funds and standards of living. With that said, it is apparent that immigrants can have some positive impacts as well, such as strengthening workforces and economic demand. The opinion of whether or not these impacts are grossly beneficial or detrimental is greatly to the conclusion of the individual.
- “For Good or Ill.” The Economist. The Economist Newspaper, 23 Jan. 2016. Web. 23 Apr. 2017.
- “European Migration: Crisis and Consequences.” Tomorrow’s World. N.p., 23 Mar. 2016. Web. 23 Apr. 2017.
- Pettinger, Tejvan. “Impact of Immigration on UK Economy.” Economics Help. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2017.