Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Migration and Population Growth

by Edward Hugh

International migration may soon account for almost all population growth in the developed world according to a United Nations study prepared for this weeks meeting of the Commission on Population and Development (I can't find a link to the study itself, if anyone else can please post in comments):

The reports suggests there are:

191m migrants globally, up from 175m in 2000 and 155m in 1990. That represented a slowdown in growth compared with the 15-year period between 1975 and 1990, which saw 41m new migrants. But between 1990 and 2005, 33m out of 36m migrants moved to the developed world, with the US alone gaining 15m and Germany and Spain each accounting for 4m.

“The developed world continued to gather a larger share of the world’s migrants, from 53 per cent in 1990 up to 61 per cent in 2005......Today, one in every three migrants lives in Europe and about one in every four lives in northern America.”

Obviously it will be really interesting to see the full report since the aggregate numbers cited above hide a multidue of issues, like the fact that the 4 million who went to Germany overwhelmingly went in the first half of the ninetees, while the 4 million who came to Spain came largely after 2000. As we saw in this post, Germany is now nearly a net emigrant nation. It will also be interesting to think in a bit more detail about origins, destinations and volumes of migration since 1975 if such analysis is contained in the report.


CV said...

What is interesting here in my opinion are two things;

1. The relationship between this and the US/EU discourse on immigration; i.e I wonder whether we can in the West to be picky in the future?

2. The implicit underlying assumption of the study's conclusion that the "fertility bust" in many developed countries will linger. I.e. migration (immigration) as the only source of population growth

CV said...

Ok, the first point I mentioned comes off as bollox :) ...

what I meant to say was that Western countries cannot remain firm on the distinction between skilled and unskilled immigration for ever. We might be able to skim our inflow of immigrants but not for ever; at least not if we accept the study's conclusions. This point obviously also raises the very crucial question; what is in fact the distinction between skilled and unskilled labor?

Robert said...

Try this on for size:

If adding a laborer to the market decreases the price of (some type of) labor such that the ratio of labor to capital used at equilibrium shifts towards labor, then that laborer is a skilled laborer. But if the price of that type of labor is so low that capital and labor are not in equilibrium, so that adding an additional laborer decreases the price of labor without effecting the amount of capital employed, then that laborer is an unskilled laborer.