International Migration Outlook

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1999-124X (online)
1995-3968 (print)
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OECD’s annual publication analysing recent developments in migration movements and policies in its countries. Each edition provides the latest statistical information on immigrant stocks and flows, immigrants in the labour market, and migration policies. Country Reports provide detailed policy information for each OECD country and special reports look at current issues in immigration.

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International Migration Outlook 2010

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12 July 2010
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9789264086029 (PDF) ; 9789264086012 (print)

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This annual publication analyses recent developments in migration movements and policies in OECD countries. It looks at the contribution of immigration to changes in the working-age population in the past decade, and the role of migration inflows at projected levels in driving growth of the working-age population in the next decade. It presents information on  international students, including a first attempt to calculate the rates at which these students remain in their host countries after the completion of their studies.  

This publication also explores the main changes introduced in migration policies, including new laws governing  immigrant entry, stay and access to the labour market. The selective recruitment of immigrants according to labour market needs and points-based systems is described, as well as measures to facilitate the integration of immigrants. International co-operation to improve border control and to combat irregular migration is analysed in detail. 

The impact of the economic crisis on the labour market outcomes of immigrants is examined, taking into consideration gender, sectors of employment and different types of contracts, as well as the demographic dynamics of native and foreign-born populations during the period under review. 

The reader will also find in this book two special chapters on topical issues. The first addresses the determinants of public opinion regarding migration, reviewing opinion surveys to identify individual determinants and examining the role of different stakeholders in shaping opinion.  The second chapter presents an in-depth study of the impact of naturalisation on the labour market outcomes of immigrants, exploring how acquisition of citizenship can increase opportunities.

Country notes, together with standardised tables, describe recent developments in migration movements and policies.

The statistical annex contains the latest data on migration flows, foreign and foreign-born populations, and naturalisations. This book includes StatLinks, URLs under statistical graphs and tables linking to the underlying statistical data.

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  • Ensuring that Migrants are Onboard the Recovery Train
    The recent recession has slowed migration, especially that driven by labour demand. Yet, migration did not come to a halt – in part because family and humanitarian movements are less sensitive to changes in labour market conditions, but also because of structural needs and demographic trends. Concealed behind a slack labour market, the ageing of the population is starting to reduce the working-age population in many countries.
  • Introduction
    Permanent-type legal immigration of foreign nationals (about 4.4 million) fell 6% in 2008, the first decline after 5 years of averaging 11% growth. However, this decline was mostly due to decreases in just a few countries, and also reflected the particularly high flows in 2007. Nonetheless, the decline in flows continued in 2009, with migration declining in most OECD countries as a result of the economic crisis.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Trends in International Migration

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    • Recent Flows, Demographic Developments and Migration
      The period 2005-2015 is a transition period in OECD countries with respect to the demographic impact of the baby-boom on the working-age population and the labour force. Persons born after 1945 have been entering their sixties and will be retiring over the period, if they have not already done so before the age of sixty. These baby-boom cohorts are significantly larger than those that came before. While the incoming (20-24) working-age cohorts in OECD countries were some 32% larger on average1 than the outgoing retiring (60-64) ones in 2005, the situation in 2015 will be substantially different, with the incoming labour force cohorts being scarcely 2% larger (see Figure I.1). By 2020 they will be some 9% smaller. For almost half of OECD countries, the outgoing cohorts will be larger than the incoming ones in 2015. The countries which are aging the most in this respect are Germany and Japan, the countries of southern Europe but also Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland.
    • Migration Policy Development in OECD Countries18
      This section focuses on policy and legislative developments in OECD countries, as well as Bulgaria, Lithuania and Romania, during 2008 and 2009. In the absence of major waves of migration, the period was dominated politically by responses to the economic downturn. The downturn led to a number of migration policy developments – usually in the form of stricter labour migration policy – although much legislative or operational change that occurred was a continuation or completion of ongoing review and reform. Some governments undertook comprehensive reviews of existing policy frameworks; others made substantial innovations; elsewhere changes were limited to minor updating of existing systems or the introduction of selected new measures. In the OECD countries which are also members of the European Union and/or the EFTA, some policy developments were influenced by the implementation of the EU acquis.
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  • Migrants in OECD Labour Markets through the Crisis
    The financial crisis, which started at the end of 2007, rapidly led to a major recession and has resulted in severe labour market slack. Starting from a 28-year low of 5.8% in late 2007, the OECD unemployment rate rose to 8.8% in the fourth quarter of 2009, resulting in an 18 million increase in the number of persons unemployed (OECD, 2010a). Most recent evidence suggests that unemployment may have peaked at the end of 2009 in the United States and Japan and that initial projections, which predicted that the OECD unemployment rate would reach 10% at the end of 2010, may have been too pessimistic. Even so, the current economic crisis is comparable to the two deep recessions of the postwar period, in the 1970s and 1990s.
  • Public Opinions and Immigration
    With the growth and diversification of migration flows to OECD countries over the past 15 years, migration policies have been changing with increasing frequency and now occupy a prime place on the political agenda of many OECD countries. The shaping of migration policies is the result of a complex process in which public opinion and the various participants in the public debate play a significant role.
  • Naturalisation and the Labour Market Integration of Immigrants
    This chapter takes stock of the available evidence on immigrants’ take-up of the hostcountry nationality and its link to labour market outcomes. Among the key findings are the following...
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Country notes

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    • Australia
      Permanent immigration to Australia increased again in 2008 by almost a third compared to the previous year. The migrant inflow consisted of 502 800 long-stay or permanent migrants, whereas 224 600 persons emigrated, yielding record net migration of 278 200. The main reason for this record high in net migration intake was a large number of incoming temporary migrants, whose number is uncapped, while new arrivals of permanent migrants represented only one in five of all arrivals. A large number (over a third) of permanent migration visas in 2008-2009 were issued to temporary migrants already in Australia, in particular to international students and skilled temporary migrants.
    • Austria
      According to national statistics, migration of foreign nationals increased slightly in 2008, to about 95 000. Emigration also increased, and net migration therefore remained at the 2007 level, somewhat over 39 000. Germany has been the main origin country of new immigration to Austria in recent years, doubling over the past five years, both in absolute terms and relative to the total inflows, to comprise more than 20% of total inflows of foreigners in 2008. Since Romania’s accession to the European Union, inflows of Romanians have also risen sharply, replacing Serbia and Montenegro as the second most important origin country after Germany. More than 9 000 Romanians entered Austria in 2009.
    • Belgium
      Like many other OECD countries, the Belgian economy went into decline in the third quarter of 2008, with unemployment rising by one percentage point from the second quarter of 2008 to the first quarter of 2009.
    • Bulgaria
      2008 marked a record high in Bulgarian economic growth. After five years of growth of over 5%, GDP growth reached 6% in 2008, boosting labour demand. Unemployment fell to 6.3%, a 16-year low, while average nominal wages increased by 10.7%. At the same time, the main receiving countries for Bulgarian migrants were already suffering from the economic crisis, and total emigration from Bulgaria decreased in 2008 compared to the previous year. The Bulgarian Ministry of Labour and Social Policy estimates that about 10 000 Bulgarians emigrated in 2008. This figure seems to be an underestimate, since widespread short-term migration is not captured in statistics. Data from receiving countries, however, confirm the decreasing trend. Flows to Spain, which remains the most important destination country for Bulgarian migrants, dropped from about 31 330 in 2007 to about 13 100 in 2008. Outflows to Germany, the second destination country, remained stable. Greece remained the third place destination country for Bulgarians. The USA also represents a traditional destination, and flows were again about 3 500, largely through the Diversity Visa ("Green Card lottery").
    • Canada
      In 2008, Canada received about 247 200 permanent migrants, an increase of 4% compared to the previous year and above the average for the past decade (235 215). The three top sending countries remained China (12%), India (10%) and the Philippines (10%). While the share of permanent migrants from the Philippines increased by 24%, and those from China by 9%, the proportion of those coming from India fell for the third consecutive year, by 6%.
    • Czech Republic
      The Czech economy had the proverbial "double-dip" in economic activity in the economic crisis, with a decline in economic activity beginning in the fourth quarter of 2008, followed by positive growth and then a decline again in the fourth quarter of 2009. The fall in GDP towards the end of 2008 was modest, however, and the unemployment rate was only beginning to show signs of increasing towards the very end of the year.
    • Denmark
      In 2008, 37 500 permanent residence permits were granted in Denmark, an increase of 42% compared to 2007. 60% of permanent permits were granted on the basis of free movement, 16% for family reasons and another 16% for economic reasons. These figures are based on ex post analysis of persons who entered in a given year and stayed for at least 12months. The number of international students increased by 23% to 7 400. Compared to 2000 this is a raise of 76%.
    • Finland
      In 2008, a total of 29 100 persons migrated to Finland, a 12% rise over 2007 (which had seen a 16% increase in inflows). Out of these immigrants, the share of foreign nationals was 19 900 (in 2007 about 17 500). The net immigration of foreign nationals was 15 400, which increased 7% from the previous year. The biggest immigrating groups came from Estonia, Russia, China, Sweden, India, Somalia, Poland, Thailand and Iraq. At the end of 2008 a total of 143 300 foreign nationals lived permanently in Finland, representing 2.7% of the entire population. It was estimated that 70 000 of foreign citizens represented labour force. At the end of 2008, the estimated unemployment rate of foreigners was 21% and the employment rate 50%.
    • France
      Standardised statistics on permanent-type migration indicate a 4.3% increase in France in 2008, as 167 500 new entries were recorded compared to 160 700 a year before. Labour migration accounts for the bulk of this increase with about 6 000 additional long-term work permits granted to non-EU citizens in 2008 compared to the previous year, some of which were granted under a limited regularisation programme for irregular migrants employed in selected occupations. Migration from new EU member countries is also rising, in part due to introduction of shortage occupation lists. Family reunification still comprises more than 50% of total permanent-type migration flows to France in 2008, free movement being estimated at around 20%, while work related migration from third countries and humanitarian migration account respectively for 14% and 7%. Nevertheless, the total number of new permits issued for family reunification decreased slightly in 2008, from 88 100 to 86 900. This trend has continued and accelerated in 2009, partly because of the implementation of measures introduced by the law on immigration, integration and asylum which came into force on 20 November 2007, aimed at creating a new balance between labour migration and family migration.
    • Germany
      Overall long-term immigration to Germany remained modest in 2008. Family migration continued to decline. The Central Foreigners Register recorded only about 51 000 new immigrants under this title, the lowest number in more than a decade. The immigration of ethnic Germans (Spätaussiedler) from Eastern Europe and Central Asia also continued to decline. Only 4 300 ethnic Germans entered in 2008, compared to more than 35 000 in 2005 and annual averages of between 100 000 and 230 000 throughout the 1990s. This component of immigration flows seems to be gradually disappearing, as is the resettlement of Jews from countries once in the former Soviet Union (about 1 400 in 2008 compared with 15 400 in 2003).
    • Greece
      Administrative data on immigration in Greece are not consistently available. Stock permit data are released on an irregular basis, and annual flow data are not available. Two sources may be cited for 2008: the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and administrative data on the stock of permits. According to the mid-2008 LFS, there were 680 564 foreigners living in Greece, a 17% increase over LFS estimates one year earlier. According to the Ministry of Interior, the stock of permit holders fell between October 2007 and April 2008, from 481 000 to 432 000. Some of this decline was accounted for by the acquisition of EU permits by some Romanians and Bulgarians; there were 534 000 EU permit holders in April 2008. Most permit holders (56.5%) were Albanians; about 60% of permits for non-EU citizens were issued for employment.
    • Hungary
      Hungary has the highest negative population growth rate among OECD countries, although international migration movements, both inward and outward, play a limited role compared to other OECD countries. Immigrants accounted for around 1.8% of the country’s total population as of 1 January 2008. Net positive immigration since the 1990s has gradually incremented the stock of foreign citizens, although its impact is low.
    • Ireland
      The past decade in Ireland was characterised by a sharp increase in migration inflows, from 27 800 in 2000 to 89 500 in 2007. The upward trend already started to taper off in 2006 and 2007, and in 2008 decreased to 67 600. At the same time, outflow rose, to 31 900 in 2008. According to Labour Force Survey data, in 2009 Ireland saw its first negative net migration since the mid-1990s. This reflects the effects of the economic crisis, which had begun in the first half of 2008.
    • Italy
      Permanent immigration to Italy continues to be significant, although in 2008 it was mostly accounted for by family reunification and free movement inflows. Between 2007 and 2008, the number of visas issued for family reunification rose 39% from 89 000 to 123 000, while entries for employment fell sharply. An annual quota for labour immigration applies to employer requests; no occupational restrictions are placed and entries are largely for less skilled work. After several years of quotas at 170 000, the 2008 quota was limited to 150 000 home care workers (from those who applied under the 2007 quota), and no quota was opened for 2009. Lower quotas led to a reduction in inflows for employment in 2008, from 220 000 to 135 000, although these are visa issuance figures and include seasonal workers. The number of entries for employment fell further in 2009.
    • Japan
      Inflows of foreign nationals to Japan in 2008 increased to 345 000 (excluding temporary visitors). The flows are about evenly split between labour, family and ancestry-based migrants (persons of Japanese ancestry from Latin America). The inflow of foreign nationals for employment – excluding trainees – fell by 7.4% in 2008 to 72 000. The largest category of entry for employment was "entertainers" (35 000). While the number of foreign students granted a change of status for employment after graduation increased by 7% to 11 000, entry from abroad into the main employment categories declined.
    • Korea
      In contrast to most other OECD countries Korea had only one quarter of negative GDP growth in the current economic crisis, but the decline in the fourth quarter of 2008 was substantial (-5.1%). Unemployment increased in the following quarter (to 3.8% from 3.1%), but has been declining each quarter since then.
    • Lithuania
      Deteriorating labour market conditions in Lithuania – unemployment reached 8% in December 2008 – resulted in an increase of recorded emigration from the country in the second half of 2008, reversing a four-year trend of shrinking negative net migration. According to Eurostat, in 2008 Lithuania had the highest net negative migration in the EU, and in 2009, net negative migration from Lithuania was three times the 2007 level. National Department of Statistics figures only reflect emigrants who leave the country for a period longer than six months and report their departure. 17 000 Lithuanian citizens reported emigration in 2008, 3 100 more than the previous year. The 2009 Labour Force Survey found that about a third of the total outflow from Lithuania was undeclared, less than previous years. Total estimated emigration for 2008 was around 24 000. In 2009, undeclared emigration was estimated to have risen again, contributing to an estimated 71 500 total departures, against 56 000 arrivals.
    • Luxembourg
      Out of all OECD countries, Luxembourg has the highest percentage of foreigners in relation to its total population, and this percentage is rising steadily. In January 2009, foreigners accounted for 44 % of a total population of 493 500, as compared with 43 % in 2008 and 41 % in 2005. In 2008, net migration (7 700 persons) accounted for nearly 80 % of population growth, and only foreigners made a positive contribution to the natural balance. The totality of Luxembourg’s demographic growth is therefore due to foreigners.
    • Mexico
      Migration issues in Mexico continue to be dominated by the outflow of Mexican migrants and Central and South American transit migrants to the United States. Undocumented migration, combined with human trafficking and other criminal activities, is a significant feature of these cross-border migration issues, and although it cannot be exactly quantified, Mexican estimates are of about 315 000 persons crossing to the United States and 2 million into Mexico annually.
    • Netherlands
      Migration flows to the Netherlands continued to increase in 2008, to reach 143 000. Of those, 103 000 were foreign immigrants, up from 80 000 in 2007. Emigration flows (90 000) decreased for the first time after several years, albeit only slightly. The emigration flows of foreign nationals reached 30 000. After including administrative corrections for unreported emigration, the migration surplus (25 737) was positive for the first time since 2003.
    • New Zealand
      The recent rise in net permanent and long-term migration (from 4 700 to 12 500 in 2008/2009) show the impact of the global economic slowdown. While net migration of foreigners remains stable at 40 200, more New Zealanders are returning home and fewer are leaving.
    • Norway
      In 2008, immigration to Norway continued at recordhigh levels. According to national statistics, the overall immigrant inflow to Norway peaked that year at 66 900. Net immigration of foreign nationals was 43 600, 4 000 more than in the previous record year of 2007, adding almost 1% to the overall population.
    • Poland
      Migration inflow to Poland increased slightly in 2008 compared to the previous year, to 41 800, whi le outflow decreased by 5 000 in 2008. Net migration remained constant, at 1.1 per 1 000 inhabitants. Immigration to Poland remains low with a share of foreigners in the total population in 2008 at 0.2%.
    • Portugal
      Migration inflows in Portugal in 2008 were 32 300, the same as in 2007. Inflows were increasingly from within Europe. EU26 citizens represented 44% of the total. Romania has become the main source country (5 300, or 16%), 8 times greater than its average share in the previous 3 years. African lusophone (PALOP) countries comprised 21% of inflows, led by Cape Verde (3 500, or 11%). Inflows of Brazilians fell 30%, to 3 500.
    • Romania
      Romania’s accession to the European Union on 1 January 2007 was accompanied by a significant increase in migration movements, which continue to be strongly dominated by outflows. According to the statistics available, the number of Romanian citizens in EU member states is estimated to be between 2.5 and 2.7 million.
    • Slovak Republic
      Improving labour market conditions in the Slovak Republic as well as the rise in foreign investment since accession to the EU (2004) contributed to change international migration patterns, with higher inflows and lower recorded outflows. This transformation from an emigration to a transit and immigration country culminated in 2007-2008 but was interrupted by the spreading economic crisis in 2009. The unemployment rate hit a low of 9.6% in 2008 before climbing to 12.9% in January 2010. Employer demand for foreign workers fell, and the number of immigrants registered as foreign entrepreneurs decreased. While the proportion of immigrants in the population remains quite low (1% in 2009), forecast declining demographic trends from 2015 on suggest rising migration flows in the future.
    • Spain
      Economic growth had dropped to zero in Spain by the 2nd quarter of 2008, and became negative, falling 1%, in the 4th quarter. The unemployment rate had already risen above the 2007 level in the 1st quarter of 2008 and was more than 5 percentage points higher in the 4th quarter yearover- year. The deterioration in economic conditions led, as expected, to a drop in labour migration in 2008.
    • Sweden
      The increase in migration inflows to Sweden continued in 2008 and broke the record high of 2007 by reaching 101 200. Total net immigration, with 45 300 emigrants from Sweden, amounted to 55 900. The largest components of inflow were Swedish return migrants (17.6%), followed by Iraqis (12%) and Poles (7%). In 2008, 13.8% of the Swedish population was foreign-born, an increase by 4.2% from 2007, and 562 100 (6.1%) were foreign citizens.
    • Switzerland
      Immigration flows peaked in 2008 prior to the economic downturn, with national statistics recording inflows of more than 157 000 – a further increase of about 18 000 compared with 2007, and more than 60% above the 2005 level. Net migration added almost 1.3% to the Swiss population in 2008.
    • Turkey
      Information on migration statistics in Turkey is scarce. There is no direct and reliable data source on flows in and out of the country.
    • United Kingdom
      Gross inflows into the United Kingdom continued to rise in 2008, to 538 000, 11 000 more than in 2007, although they seem to be stabilising. The total inflow of foreign nationals reached 456 000 in 2008, mostly due to the increased inflow of EU15, A-8 and non-EU, non-Commonwealth citizens. Inflows from Commonwealth countries decreased slightly. The main change in flows was the record high outflow of people leaving the country in 2008 (409 000). Between 2004 and 2007, in fact, outflows had been declining, but have now resumed their upward trend. Most of the rise was due to the outflow of non-British people (243 000), mostly nationals from EU25/27 countries. Total net inflow into the United Kingdom fell to 129 000 in 2008 from 209 000 in 2007.
    • United States
      Permanent immigration to the United States rose 5.2% in the US Fiscal Year 2008 (1 October 2007 through 30 September 2008), with 1 107 000 people receiving lawful permanent residency status. The previous year had seen a sharp drop due to fewer humanitarian migrants and less family reunification, as well as the end of additional entries for employment under a "visa recapture" scheme whereby unused visas from previous years’ caps were granted. Admissions under the employment-based preferences category, on the other hand, were largely steady at 167 000 (2008). More than half of the employment-based visas went to family members of the principal applicant. In the three main employment-based visa categories, 96% were issued to principal applicants already in the United States.
    • Sources and Notes of the Country Tables of Part V
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Statistical Annex

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    • Introduction
      Most of the data published in this annex are taken from the individual contributions of national correspondents appointed by the OECD Secretariat with the approval of the authorities of Member countries. Consequently, these data have not necessarily been harmonised at international level. This network of correspondents, constituting the Continuous Reporting System on Migration (SOPEMI), covers most OECD Member countries as well as the Baltic States, Bulgaria and Romania. SOPEMI has no authority to impose changes in data collection procedures. It is an observatory which, by its very nature, has to use existing statistics. However, it does play an active role in suggesting what it considers to be essential improvements in data collection and makes every effort to present consistent and well-documented statistics.
    • General comments on tables
    • Inflows and outflows of foreign population
      OECD countries seldom have tools specifically designed to measure the inflows and outflows of the foreign population, and national estimates are generally based either on population registers or residence permit data. This note is aimed at describing more systematically what is measured by each of the sources used.
    • Inflows of asylum seekers
      The statistics on asylum seekers published in this annex are based on data provided by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. Since 1950, the UNHCR, which has a mission of conducting and co-ordinating international initiatives on behalf of refugees, has regularly produced complete statistics on refugees and asylum seekers in OECD countries and other countries of the world (
    • Stocks of foreign and foreign-born population
      Two questions must be asked before examining stocks of immigrants in OECD countries: 1) Who is considered an "immigrant" in OECD countries, and 2) What are the problems related to international comparability?
    • Acquisition of nationality
      Nationality law can have a significant impact on the measurement of the national and foreign populations. In France and Belgium, for example, where foreigners can fairly easily acquire the nationality of the host country, increases in the foreign population through immigration and births can eventually contribute to a significant rise in the population of nationals. On the other hand, in countries where naturalisation is more difficult, increases in immigration and births amongst foreigners manifest themselves almost exclusively as rises in the foreign population. In addition, changes in rules regarding naturalisation can have significant numerical effects. For example, during the 1980s, a number of OECD countries made naturalisation easier and this resulted in noticeable falls in the foreign population (and rises in the population of nationals).
    • Inflows of foreign workers
      Most of the statistics published here are based on the number of work permits issued during the year. As was the case for overall immigration flows, the settlement countries (Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States) consider as immigrant workers, persons who have received a permanent immigration permit for employment purposes. In each of these four countries, it is also possible to work on a temporary basis under various programmes (these data are also available in this annex). Data by country of origin are not published for the series.
    • Stocks of foreign and foreign-born labour
      The international comparison of "immigrant" workers faces the difficulties already mentioned earlier regarding the measurement of the overall stock of immigrants as well as to the use of different concepts of employment and unemployment.
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