International Migration Outlook

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 notes provide detailed policy information for each OECD country and special chapters look at current issues in immigration.

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International Migration Outlook 2011

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12 July 2011
9789264112612 (PDF) ;9789264112605(print)

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This  publication analyses recent development in migration movements and policies in OECD countries and some non-member countries including migration of highly qualified and low qualified workers, temporary and permanent, as well as students. Three special chapters cover: the 50th anniversary of the OECD and the work of the SOPEMI, migrant entrepreneurship, and migration to Israel.

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  • Foreword
    This publication constitutes the thirty-fifth report of the OECD’s Continuous Reporting System on Migration (known by its French acronym SOPEMI). The report opens with a special chapter for the 50th anniversary of the OECD on international migration and the SOPEMI. The rest of the report is divided into four parts plus a statistical annex.
  • 50th OECD Anniversary: International Migration and the SOPEMI
    During its first two decades, the OECD migration interest was focussed on Europe. As membership of the OECD has broadened, so has the geographical scope and range of migration issues moving up on international political agendas. The OECD has always been seen as a unique forum for analytical work and for the exchange of views, experience and best practices, including economic and social aspects of migration. To support this, great effort has been spent to extend migration statistics and improve data comparability. For many decades, migration movements and policies have been monitored using the Continuous Reporting System on Migration (known by its French acronym, SOPEMI), under the auspices of the OECD Working Party. This unique tool allows OECD member countries and non-members to stay on top of the economic and social aspects of migration, including the links between migration and development.
  • Migration in the Post-Crisis World
    As OECD countries are recovering slowly from the crisis, international migration is at a turning point. The economic downturn marked a decline in permanent regulated labour migration flows of about 7%, but it was free-circulation movements (within the European Union) and temporary labour migration which saw the biggest changes with falls of 36% and 17%, respectively, for 2009 compared to 2007. With the first signs of economic recovery, however, there seems little doubt that migration for employment purposes will be picking up again.
  • Introduction
    The OECD has always been seen as a unique Forum for analytical work and for the exchange of views, experience and best practices in the field of economic and social aspects of migration. At the same time, a wider range of migration statistics have been developed and great effort spent to improve data comparability. For many decades, the Continuous Reporting System on Migration (SOPEMI), under the auspices of the OECD Working Party on Migration, has been the only such monitor of migration movements and policies. It has witnessed the boom and bust of "guestworker" migration, the tightening of migration policies in the 1980s as well as the changes after the fall of the Iron Curtain in the 1990s and the renewal of interest in labour migration in the 2000s, before the 2008 financial crisis once again put more open migration policies in question. Demographic ageing and globalisation of the world economy pose many challenges to OECD countries in the field of migration. In this context, the OECD remains a privileged observatory of migration movements and policies and a platform for exchange on what works and what does not: a critical instrument to make the most out of international migration to support economic growth in both origin and destination countries.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Trends in International Migration

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    • Trends in Migration Flows and in the Immigrant Population
      With the economic recession firmly in place, virtually all OECD countries saw declines in their GDP in 2009, with only Australia, Israel, Korea and Poland managing to maintain positive but relatively low growth rates. The decline in GDP for the OECD as a whole was close to 3.6%, compared to an increase of 1.2% in 2008 and increases of close to 3% in the previous two years.
    • Employment
      Although the labour market impact of the recent economic downturn differed significantly across countries, both in terms of intensity and of type of workers most affected, labour demand fell in all countries, resulting in more joblessness and/or involuntary under-employment.
    • Migration Policy Developments
      Migration policy developments in 2009 and 2010 were partly affected by the economic downturn, with restrictive measures adopted in some OECD countries with respect to labour migration. Family and humanitarian policies, as well as border controls, were also tightened in the period under review, albeit for different reasons. In parallel, countries enhanced their integration efforts for those migrants already in the country.
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  • Migrant Entrepreneurship in OECD Countries
    This chapter analyses migrant entrepreneurship and its contribution to employment creation in OECD countries. In addition, it reviews the policy measures established to fostering migrant entrepreneurship, both for prospective migrant entrepreneurs and for those already in the country.
  • International Migration to Israel and its Impact
    Israel joined the OECD on 7 September 2010, becoming its 33rd member. Its accession to the OECD brings in its train a different model of immigration and provides an opportunity to compare not only integration policy and outcomes for immigrants, but also the management and impact of temporary labour migration programmes.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Country notes

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    • Australia
      In 2009-10, permanent migration to Australia decreased by 7%, the first decline in seven years. Still, with about 207 000 permanent migrants (excluding returning Australian citizens), it was the second largest intake ever and more than twice the level of a decade earlier. 82% of the permanent migrants were admitted under the migration program – around two-thirds through the skill stream (including accompanying family) and one-third through the family stream – and 7% through the humanitarian programme. Within the skill stream, the proportion of employer-sponsored places has continued to increase from 33% in 2008-09 to 39% in 2009-10. In addition, 24 300 New Zealanders entered Australia under the 1973 Trans Tasman Travel Arrangement. For 2010-11, the overall size of the permanent migration and humanitarian programmes is maintained at 2009-10 levels, but with an additional 5 800 places in the skill stream and offsetting reductions in the family stream.
    • Austria
      In 2009, according to national statistics, the total inflow of foreign nationals to Austria declined slightly, back to the 2007 level of about 91 800. At the same time, outflows increased from 55 300 in 2008 to 66 100 in 2009, resulting in a net migration of 25 700, 38% lower than in 2008.
    • Belgium
      As of 31 December 2009, the foreign population amounted to 9.8% of the total population of Belgium, that is to say 1 058 000 persons out of a total of 10 839 000. The share of the population accounted by foreigners was up by 0.4% compared with the previous year. The number of immigrants (Belgians and foreigners) who entered Belgium in 2009 was down by 1.9% compared with 2008, falling from 119 200 to 117 000.
    • Bulgaria
      In 2009, migration to and from Bulgaria declined in the context of the economic downturn and preliminary data for 2010 indicate that this decline is ongoing. Immigration decreased in all major categories, except for international students. The total immigration flow reached about 22 000, a decrease of 23% compared with 2008.
    • Canada
      Canada admitted about 252 000 permanent migrants in 2009, a 2% increase over 2008. As in previous years, the top sending countries were China (12%), the Philippines (11%) and India (10%). While the share of permanent immigrants from the Philippines and India increased by 15% and 6%, respectively, inflows from China decreased marginally by 1%. In 2009, the bulk of permanent migrants (61%) entered Canada for family-related reasons. Labour migrants (i.e. economic principal applicants) accounted for one-quarter of long-term inflows and one out of eight permanent migrants acquired a residence permit on humanitarian grounds.
    • Chile
      According to national estimations based on Census data which include irregular migrants, more than 350 000 immigrants were living in Chile in 2009, twice the number of immigrants registered in 2002. The vast majority of the immigrants in Chile are from other Southern American countries, mainly from the neighbouring countries. Peru is the main country of origin, accounting for 37% of the migrant population, followed by Argentina (17%), Bolivia (7%), Ecuador (5%) and Colombia (4%).
    • Czech Republic
      In the context of the economic crisis, immigration inflows into the Czech Republic declined rapidly in 2009, following a trend already started in 2008. According to national statistics, about 39 000 immigrants entered the country in 2009, which was nearly half the number of entries registered in the previous year (78 000). In parallel, outflows almost doubled, growing from about 6 000 to almost 12 000 persons. In total, net migration declined by almost two-thirds.
    • Denmark
      In 2009, the total number of new residence permits granted in Denmark was about 57 000, a decrease of more than 15% compared with 2008, but still well above the levels of 2004-06. The numbers in all major categories, except for family reunification, registered a decline.
    • Estonia
      There were 1.34 million people living in Estonia on 1 January 2011, of which 16% are foreigners. The vast majority the foreign population is longstanding and arrived to Estonia as internal migrants from different parts of the Soviet Union during Estonia’s occupation until 1991.
    • Finland
      In 2009, according to national statistics, 26 700 persons migrated to Finland, which is 8% less than in 2008. Out of these immigrants, foreign nationals accounted for 18 100, a slight decrease compared to the previous year (19 900). The main immigrating groups came from Estonia (3 176), the Russian Federation (2 336), Iraq (907), Somalia (804) and Sweden (836). Preliminary statistics show that 24 600 people moved to Finland in 2010.
    • France
      Permanent immigration excluding freedom of movement (that is, nationals from Romania, Bulgaria and non-EEA/Swiss citizens) reached a level of roughly 126 000 entries in 2009, down by 7% compared with 2008. This decrease stemmed as much from labour migration (22 500 entries), which dipped by 6% compared with 2008, as from family migration (78 100 entries), which decreased by 10%. This trend is due in part to the transition that followed institution of the "long-stay visa constituting a residence permit" (Visa de long séjour valant titre de séjour, VLS-TS) and which deferred the recording of some entries until 2010. In addition, the economic crisis affected requirements for the recruitment of foreign workers, and criteria for family reunification were tightened subsequent to the entry into force of the November 2007 law on immigration, integration and asylum.
    • Germany
      Partly as a result of the economic crisis, overall long-term immigration to Germany declined further in 2009 from the already modest level observed in 2008. According to data from the Central Foreigners Register, family migration continued its declining trend, recording only about 48 000 new immigrants under this title, the lowest in more than a decade. The immigration of ethnic Germans (Spätaussiedler) from Eastern Europe and Central Asia also continued to decline. Only 3 400 ethnic Germans entered in 2009, compared to annual averages of between 100 000 and 230 000 throughout the 1990s. This component of immigration flows is gradually disappearing, as is the resettlement of Jews from countries once in the former Soviet Union (about 1 100 in 2009).
    • Greece
      Data on immigration in Greece are not consistently available, but all major sources indicate that there has been significant immigration in 2009. According to the fourth quarter Labour Force Survey (LFS) in 2009, there were 840 000 foreigners living in Greece, a 24% increase over LFS estimates for mid-2008. According to the Ministry of Interior permit data, the stock of non-EU permit holders at the end of 2009 stood at 587 000, an increase from April 2008, when there were 432 000 permits. There were also 136 000 citizens of the new EU countries holding permits at the end of 2009. The largest group with permits were from Albania (414 000), followed by Bulgaria (55 900), Romania (42 000), Ukraine (21 600), Georgia (17 700), and Pakistan (17 100).
    • Hungary
      Hungary is a not a major destination for international migrants, but a country rather affected by transition movements from east to west. The stock of foreign nationals is comparably small and makes up only 2% of the overall population. It is estimated that up to 40% of these are ethnic Hungarians who entered Hungary from neighbouring countries.
    • Ireland
      Migration to Ireland has been particularly hard hit by the severe economic crisis touching the country. Between 2007 and 2010, net migration fell from 1.6% to –0.8% of total population. Irish employment and immigration levels reached peaks at the last trimester of 2007. Two years later, the country had lost 253 000 jobs, a decline of 12%. As a result, migrant inflows to Ireland decreased sharply from 110 000 in the year to April 2007 (FY 2007) to 31 000 in FY 2010.
    • Israel
      In 2009, there were 14 600 new permanent immigrants to Israel, a slight increase (6%) over 2008, but far below the level of the 1990s, when immigration averaged almost 100 000 annually. The main countries from which immigrants arrived were the Russian Federation (22%), the United States (17%), Ukraine (11%) and France (11%). One notable absence in inflows in 2009 was Ethiopia, which had provided about 11% of the inflow over the previous decade.
    • Italy
      Permanent immigration to Italy remains at high levels, making it the leading immigration destination among European OECD countries in 2009. Data from population registers show a 9% increase in the stock of foreign residents, to 4.24 million, including 407 000 new enrolments of foreigners from abroad. Preliminary data for 2010 show a further increase of 376 000.
    • Japan
      Inflows of foreign nationals to Japan in 2009 reached 297 000 (excluding temporary visitors), a 14% decrease compared with the previous year. The number of new entrants with the status of residence for the purpose of work totalled about 57 100, a decrease of 15 100 (20%) from the previous year. This has been the fifth consecutive year of decline in the entries of foreign workers. The most important category of entry for employment was "entertainers" (31 000). Skilled labour and intra-company transferees account for about 5 000 entries each, which represents a significant decline compared with 2008, by 21% and 28%, respectively.
    • Korea
      Long-term inflows to Korea declined by 22% in 2009 to reach 243 000. The decline in permanent-type labour migration, which had been the driving component of the growth in migration to Korea in the years prior to the crisis, was particularly pronounced. Only about 100 000 persons entered under this title, a decline by more than a third from 2008. Family migration remains limited in Korea and tends to be more stable. It declined slightly from its 2008 level of 33 000 to 29 800 in 2009. It now represents slightly less than a fourth of total permanent-type inflows.
    • Lithuania
      The deterioration of labour market conditions in Lithuania has resulted in a 30% drop in total immigration in 2009, to 6 500, and a parallel increase in emigration. The number of registered departures increased by almost 30% to 22 000 persons. Preliminary data for 2010 show that immigration continued to decrease (5 200 entries recorded in 2010) and registered emigration increased strongly over that period, a total of 83 600 persons, but this seems, but this seems mainly due to the obligation to deregister to avoid payment into the compulsory health insurance. These official figures only reflect emigrants who leave the country for a period longer than one year and report their departure. The Labour Force Survey provides some estimates on the undeclared emigration. In 2009, undeclared emigration was estimated to have risen again, accounting for a third of the total outflows.
    • Luxembourg
      Luxembourg is still experiencing population growth and in 2009 crossed the threshold of a half-million residents, 43% of whom are foreign nationals.
    • Mexico
      Mexico saw a significant increase in the number of permanent immigrants in 2009, with the level rising by almost 60% to reach close to 24 000. It is unknown what proportion of this is work-related and what is family-related. The United States, China, Guatemala, Colombia and Cuba are the top origin countries, each accounting for about 2 000 to 3 000 immigrants. Following declines in 2007 and 2008, the number of seasonal workers entering Mexico rose by one-third, to 31 000. Most are from Guatemala and Belize.
    • Netherlands
      In spite of the economic downturn, immigration rose slightly in 2009 to 146 400, the highest figure in a decade. 30% of these immigrants were Dutch nationals. At the same time, outflows decreased slightly for the second year in a row, reaching 85 400. Out of the emigrants, 60% were Dutch nationals. Overall net migration reached the highest figure since 2001, with a surplus of 34 500 after correction for unreported emigration.
    • New Zealand
      In total, net inflows in 2009/2010 equalled 16 500, an increase of one-third over the previous year. The rise in net migration was driven by more New Zealanders returning home and fewer leaving. In particular, some important changes were recorded with respect to flows to/from Australia and the United Kingdom, the two major destination countries of New Zealanders. The negative migration net balance with Australia was substantially reduced in parallel with the highest positive net migration on record with the United Kingdom. In contrast, fewer foreigners came in (56 100 compared with 63 400 in 2008/2009) and more left the country (25 400 compared with 23 300).
    • Norway
      In 2009, the total inflow of immigrants to Norway reached 65 200, almost as high as the record level of 66 900 in 2008. Out of these, 87% were foreigners and 13% of Norwegian nationality. The decrease of the immigration flow in 2009 was mainly due to less immigration from Poland by 38%, to 10 450 immigrants in 2009. However, Poles still constitute the largest immigrant group, followed by Swedes. Overall, 58% of immigrants came from EU member states, and 31% from the new members in Central and Eastern Europe.
    • Poland
      Registered migration inflows to Poland increased by almost 15% in 2009, to around 17 400, while outflows decreased by 38%, to about 18 600. This resulted in a significant change in net migration, which remained negative but amounted to 1 200 persons, a reduction by more than ten times in absolute value compared with 2008 and by almost 30 times compared with 2006.
    • Portugal
      Exact data on migration flows for Portugal continue to be difficult to obtain, because available sources mix different situations (e.g. new entries and status changes) and are unable to register the full magnitude of some inflows, namely the one of EU nationals. Estimates based on new residence permits and long-term visas suggest that in spite of the difficult economic situation in Portugal, overall migration inflows were slightly higher in 2009 than in 2008 (34 000 compared with 32 000). The National Statistics Institute (INE) estimates of net migration was positive, albeit at a low level of about 15 000.
    • Romania
      The accession to the European Union on 1 January 2007 was accompanied by a significant increase in migration movements. Romania’s migration pattern is mainly characterised by emigration. The number of Romanians working abroad in 2009 is estimated to be around 3 million persons. However, data on emigration of Romanian citizens or persons born in Romania is limited.
    • Russian Federation
      The Russian Federation has the second largest number of foreign-born persons residing on its territory, after the United States. Most in- and out-migration is with other countries of the former Soviet Union (FSU). According to the 2002 Census, the most recent data available on the immigrant population, there were 12 million foreign-born persons in the Russian Federation in that year, about 8.3% of the total population. Close to 90% were of Russian nationality and indeed, most were from the FSU, whose break-up transformed overnight many persons born in these republics into foreign-born persons. Some 3.5 million were from Ukraine and a further 2.5 million from Kazakhstan.
    • Slovak Republic
      In 2009, immigration to the Slovak Republic declined for the first time since its accession to the EU. According to national statistics, the inflow of foreign nationals in 2009 was 6 300, compared with 8 800 in 2008. The economic crisis marked a break in the positive labour market developments registered in the country since 2004 and contributed to interrupt the growing immigration trend.
    • Slovenia
      At the beginning of 2010, out of Slovenia’s total population of 2 million, about 82 300 were foreign citizens, representing 4% of the total population. The vast majority –more than 88% – of the foreign population is from the successor countries of the former Yugoslavia, with Bosnia and Herzegovina (47%), the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) (11%), Serbia (11%) and Croatia (9%) being the main origin countries of foreign nationals. Among the foreign population, 73% are men.
    • Spain
      The economic downturn, which has hit Spain particularly hard, led to a significant decline in migration inflows in 2009, from about 690 000 in 2008 to 470 000 in 2009. In parallel, there has also been an increase in migration outflows, although the changes here were more moderate – from about 230 000 to 320 000.
    • Sweden
      The trend of increasing immigration to Sweden continued in 2009 in spite of the economic downturn, with inflows reaching a new record high of 102 000. The largest component of the inflow was returning Swedish citizens, followed by citizens from Iraq, Somalia and Poland. In parallel, total emigration declined by 13% compared with the previous year, resulting in an overall net migration of almost 56 000 persons. Preliminary figures for 2010 on the basis of residence permits indicate a decline in immigration for that year.
    • Switzerland
      Following the peak in immigration flows prior to the economic downturn, national statistics recorded a decline in inflows from 157 000 in 2008 to 132 000 in 2009. The decline was particularly strong among nationals from the EU-15 who nevertheless continue to account for the vast majority (62%) of migration flows. This was mainly driven by a notable decline in immigration of Germans (from 46 000 to 34 000) who have been the main origin group in recent years, accounting for almost 30% of new arrivals.
    • Turkey
      Statistics on migration flows in Turkey are limited to certain categories. There is no direct and reliable data source on total flows in and out of the country.
    • United Kingdom
      Total inflows to the United Kingdom in 2009 were 528 000, a slight decrease with respect to 2008. As outflows from the United Kingdom decreased substantially (from 409 000 to 337 000), total net migration rose by almost 50%, to 191 000, which is nevertheless still lower than pre-crisis levels. Most of the change in net migration is explained by the increase in inflows and decrease in outflows of British citizens.
    • United States
      Permanent immigration to the United States rose 2% in the US Fiscal Year 2009 (1 October 2008 through 30 September 2009), with more than 1.13 million people receiving lawful permanent residency status. The previous year had seen a 5% increase. Admissions under the employment-based preferences category, on the other hand, fell 13%, to 144 000. Almost half (45%) of the employment-based visas went to principal applicant, with the remainder for their family members. 92% of those granted permanent residence based on their employment were already in the United States on a temporary visa.
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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 have been provided by national SOPEMI correspondents appointed by the OECD Secretariat with the approval of the authorities of member countries. Consequently, these data are not necessarily based on common definitions. Countries under review in this annex are OECD countries for which data are available, as well as the Russian Federation. 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
    • General comments
    • 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 (http://www.unhcr/org/statistics).
    • Stocks of foreign and foreign-born population
      There are major differences in how immigrants are defined in different countries. Some countries have traditionally focused on producing data on foreign residents (European countries, Japan and Korea) whilst others refer to the foreign-born (settlement countries, i.e. Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States). This difference in focus relates in part to the nature and history of immigration systems and legislation on citizenship and naturalisation.
    • 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 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 among foreigners manifest themselves almost exclusively as growth in the foreign population. In addition, changes in rules regarding naturalisation can have significant impact. 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 force
      The international comparison of "immigrant" workers is confronted with the same difficulties already mentioned earlier regarding the measurement of the overall stock of immigrants as well as with the use of different concepts of employment and unemployment.
    • List of correspondents of the Continuous Reporting System on Migration (SOPEMI)
    • List of OECD Secretariat members involved in the preparation of this report
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