Governments must address anti-immigration backlash


19/9/2016 - OECD countries need to address the growing anti-immigration backlash and reinforce migration and integration policies while fostering international cooperation in this area, according to a new OECD report.





The share of the public holding anti-immigration views has grown, driven by concerns that borders are insecure, immigrants stretch local services and some do not want to integrate. The 2016 International Migration Outlook stresses that systematic and co-ordinated action is needed to vigorously address these concerns and tap into the many opportunities that migration offers to recipient economies and societies.




“Too many people in too many countries are losing faith in how we manage migration, and the refugee crisis has exacerbated this,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría, launching the report in New York City during the annual opening of the United Nations General Assembly. “The OECD’s analysis reveals that immigration is positive in the medium and long-term for public finances, economic growth and job markets. To counter the rising tide of anti-immigration voices, governments need to explain these benefits, in a clear and unequivocal way, as well as how they intend to manage these flows. They must also develop more effective migration and integration policies to maximise the contribution that newcomers can make to their countries.”


The Outlook says that with more than one and a half million new asylum seekers arriving in OECD countries in 2015, mostly to Europe, the refugee crisis has led to a record number of asylum seekers.


In absolute numbers, Germany received the largest inflows in the OECD in 2015, with 440 000 formal registrations and more than a million pre-registrations. But in relative terms, Sweden received the most, the equivalent of 1.6% of its population. In Turkey, the number of Syrians with temporary protection reached 2.7 million in 2015. The most recent data available show that in the first half of 2016, around 750,000 new formal asylum registrations have been filed in OECD countries – more than half of them in Germany.


Integration measures for asylum seekers and refugees were stepped up in many European countries affected by the refugee crisis. Expenditure on education and language courses significantly increased in Austria, Finland, Germany, Norway and Sweden. Several countries reduced waiting times to enter the labour market or facilitated early access to language courses and skills assessment.


The Outlook says that even in 2015 refugees were still a relatively small part of the estimated 4.8 million people who moved to OECD countries. Today, around 120 million people living in OECD countries were born elsewhere and new migrants moving to OECD countries represent less than 0.5% of their total population.


In addition to increased integration efforts, for countries to reap the full benefits of migration and heal the social schisms appearing in some countries, the OECD urges action on three fronts:

  • Address the local impact of migration. Large and sudden inflows of migrants are generally concentrated in specific regions and urban areas – often the most disadvantaged ones. This puts pressure on local services, such as housing, transport and education. Arrivals of low-skilled migrants may sometimes also have an impact on the job market for low-skilled residents. Scaling up public services to address this is essential, as well as enforcing minimum wages and other labour market regulations.
  • Global challenges need global solutions. International co-operation needs to be stepped up, with different countries making different contributions.
  • Needs must be identified and addressed more rapidly. Protracted crises that displace large numbers of people generate a growing tension between the need to find and fund long-lasting solutions and the general preference for short-term protection measures. A longer-term solution would be to set minimum standards in terms of short-term protection and to facilitate a pathway towards more stable protection where necessary. The international community also needs to significantly increase its effort in terms of resettlement.


For more information, journalists should contact the OECD Media Division (tel. + 33 1 45 24 97 00).



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