Migration

Annual new permanent migration flows represent less than 1% of the population in nearly all OECD countries (Figure 4.7). Only Switzerland and Luxembourg have, since many years, much higher rates, reaching 1.5% and 3.4% respectively in 2016. Permanent migration flows rose sharply in Germany and Sweden in recent years, giving both countries a spot in the top five OECD countries in terms of immigration as a proportion of the population. Within the EU, many permanent migrants come from other EU countries through the free mobility arrangements. The share of migrants coming from third countries to EU countries remains relatively low but has been rising from 0.22% in the period 2010-15 to 0.36% in 2016.

Across OECD countries, permanent migration flows increased by 15% in 2016. Two-thirds of the increase is due to increased humanitarian migration, particularly to Germany, and one-fourth is due to rising family migration, in particular to the United States. For other OECD countries, there were few changes in the numbers of new labour migrants or in the magnitude of migration movements within free-circulation areas. Preliminary figures for 2017 show a slight decrease in flows, the first decline recorded since 2011.

On average in the OECD, more than 10% of the population was foreign-born in 2017 (Figure 4.8). The share of foreign-born within the population was highest in Australia, Canada, Israel, Luxembourg, New Zealand and Switzerland, where at least one-in-five people were foreign-born. Nearly two-thirds of the OECD countries had an immigrant population exceeding one in ten of the population. Around two-thirds of the foreign-born are from non-EU countries. Over one-third of immigrants in the OECD live in the United States, where they make up almost 14% of the population. Luxembourg is the country with the highest share of foreign-born – over 46% of its population. With the exception of Israel and the Baltic States, the share of foreign-born in the total population increased in all OECD countries over the last decade. Over two-thirds of immigrants in the OECD have lived in their host country for at least ten years, while 16% have been residents for up to five years.

In the EU, interaction with immigrants occurs more often in the neighbourhood than at the workplace, with respectively 44% and 28% of the native-born population reporting an interaction with immigrants from non EU countries at least once a week (Figure 4.9). Countries where the native-born interact most with the non-EU-born in their neighbourhood are Southern European countries, Ireland and Austria. Interaction with immigrant colleagues is most common in Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands. For more information about immigrant civic engagement and social integration, see Chapter 5 in OECD/EU (2018), Settling In 2018: Indicators of Immigrant Integration.

Definition and measurement

Permanent movements refer to entries for long-term residents either for labour, family, humanitarian or free mobility reasons and include only foreign nationals. These inflows include status changes, namely persons in the country on a temporary status who obtained the right to stay on a longer-term basis. This standardised definition has been designed, when data were available, to make the scale and composition of migration most comparable across countries.

Immigrants are, in the first instance, defined as those who are foreign-born, whatever their citizenship at birth. In general, the foreign-born population is substantially larger than the share of foreign nationals. Immigrants offspring include different categories of people: i.e. they can either be born in their parents’ host country to two foreign-born parents; or to mixed parentage (one foreign-born parent); be foreign-born and arrived as children; or be foreign-born and arrived as adults.

The indicator on interactions, which is only available for EU countries, seeks to assess the frequency of interactions of the natives with immigrants born in a third country (“On average, how often do you interact with immigrants? Interaction can mean anything from exchanging a few words to doing an activity together”). Two types of interaction are considered in this section: in the workplace and in the neighbourhood. Interactions are considered frequent when they occur at least once a week; rare when they occur once a year or less frequently. Data cover the native-born aged 15 and older.

Further reading

OECD (2018), International Migration Outlook 2018, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/migr_outlook-2018-en.

OECD/EU (2018), Settling In 2018: Indicators of Immigrant Integration, OECD Publishing, Paris/EU, Brussels, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264307216-en.

OECD (2019), Ready to Help? Improving Resilience of Integration Systems for Refugees and other Vulnerable Migrants, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264311312-en.

Figure notes

Figure 4.7: EU average is the average of EU countries presented in the chart. EU –  TCN represents the entries of third-country nationals into EU countries for which standardised data are available, as a percentage of their total population.

Figure 4.8: OECD average refers to weighted average. For more information see Statlink

Figure 4.9: Averages factor in rates that cannot be published individually because sample sizes are too small. EU-28 refers to weighted average.

4.7. In most OECD countries, annual migration flows represent less than 1% of the population
Permanent migration flows to OECD countries, as a percentage of the total population, 2016
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Source: OECD (2018), International Migration Outlook 2018, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/migr_outlook-2018-en.

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933938572

4.8. One in ten of the OECD population is foreign-born
Foreign-born shares as percentage of total populations, 2006 and 2017 and percentages of recent immigrants, 15- to 64-year-olds, 2015‐16
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Source: OECD/EU (2018), Settling In 2018: Indicators of Immigrant Integration, OECD Publishing, Paris/EU, Brussels, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264307216-en.

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933938591

4.9. In the EU, interaction with immigrants happens more frequently in the neighbourhood than in the workplace
Percentages of the native-born who interact at least once a week with immigrants, 2018
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Source: OECD/EU (2018), Settling In 2018: Indicators of Immigrant Integration, OECD Publishing, Paris/EU, Brussels, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264307216-en.

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933938610

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