Opening migration 'could benefit Europe'
Researchers have said reforming migration policies and opening legal channels for migration will "benefit Europe and address the problem of a shrinking and aging population".
In a report launched at the London School of Economics (LSE) this afternoon, researchers will highlight their findings which reveal the massive inflow of migrants into the EU since 2004 led "neither to the displacement of local workers nor to increased unemployment".
The report, Overcoming Barriers: Human mobility and development, support the idea that migrant labour does not have a large effect on the employment or wages of locals.
"Migration remains a contentious policy issue in need of reform and reconsideration across the European Union," says lead author Jeni Klugman.
"We hope our report will help influence the debate and show the overall positive benefits of migration, especially with migration being a major priority of the current Swedish EU presidency."
The report's main message is that "migration can significantly enhance human development among all concerned the migrant families, source and destination communities is particularly important as countries around the world grapple with the consequences of the global economic downturn".
The researchers said barriers to migration are very unequally distributed, but it can do much to raise a person's income, health and education.
Most importantly, they say, is that being able to decide where to live is a key element of human freedom, and large gains to human development can be achieved by lowering barriers and other constraints to movement and by improving policies towards those who move.
Tim Finch, head of migration at Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR), co-hosts of the event at LSE today, said: "This report adds to the evidence that migration can really change the lives of migrants from poor countries, as well as the families and communities they leave behind.
"Migration also benefits receiving countries although there are impacts that have to be taken into account.
"The challenge for the government of a rich country like the UK is to find ways to develop managed migration systems and citizenship policies, which command the confidence of the public, maximise the benefits for the UK , but also which help the citizens of developing countries both those who migrate and those who don't.
"This government has taken a good first step by considering the development impacts of its Points Based system and its citizenship proposals."
The researchers add that contrary to commonly held beliefs, migrants typically boost economic output and give more than they take.
Detailed investigations show that immigration generally increases employment rates in host communities, does not crowd out locals from the job market and improves rates of investment in new businesses and initiatives.
05 October 2009, 12:00