Cover of the study | Credit: ANSA
Cover of the study | Credit: ANSA

Think migrants are a burden for their host countries? Think again. The economies of the main OECD countries would have lost billions without the positive contribution made by migrants over the years, according to a recent study.

The study conducted by Citi and the Oxford Martin School found that leading OECD economies would be hundreds of billions of pounds worse off without the contribution of migrants to economic growth. 

The report, titled "Migration and the Economy: Economic Realities, Social Impacts and Political Choices", analyzed the effects of migration on growth and dynamism of economies, and on its fiscal costs and benefits. 

Migrants' contribution 

Ian Goldin, professor of globalisation and development at the University of Oxford, and the study's lead researcher, said migration has had a substantial impact on recent aggregate economic growth in OECD countries. The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) has 36 member countries; most of them are developed countries, such as the United States, Australia, and Western European countries like Germany, France and Spain. 

The study found that if immigration had stopped in the United Kingdom in 1990, real GDP in 2014 would have been around 175 billion pounds lower. In Germany, real GDP would have been 155 billion euros lower. 

The report found that migrants contributed to innovation, business start-ups and economic growth. In the US, migration has contributed to long-term and recent growth, and the best-performing industries and regions in the US are highly dependent on migrants' contribution, Goldin and his colleagues found.

Disconnect between perception and reality 

The study said migrants consume fewer benefits and receive less from the public purse than native residents. They are predominantly of working age, thus improving the proportion of workers to dependents (like retirees or children) within economies; and their training and education have been paid for by their country of origin.

The report found that migration raises levels of innovation, productivity and economic growth. It said although migrants are highly beneficial for societies, there are costs that need to be addressed more effectively. One example is that the concentration of migrants in particular areas puts pressure on public services and infrastructure. The study's authors recommended redistributing tax receipts to address burdens on local and regional authorities, a greater focus on language education, and other measures to ensure migrants contribute more fully to their host communities.

The findings throw light on the disconnect between public perceptions of migration and actual trends. While right-wing populist parties have utilized fears that migrants could damage a country's economy in election campaigns across Europe and worldwide, the authors' analysis shows no evidence of migrants taking benefits away from host countries. 
 

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