CEPII, Recherche et Expertise sur l'economie mondiale
The Effects of Immigration in Developed Countries: Insights from Recent Economic Research

Anthony Edo
Lionel Ragot
Hillel Rapoport
Sulin Sardoschau
Andreas Steinmayr

The rise in international migration over the past decades and particularly the recent influx of refugees to the European Union has given more audience to the economic and political consequences of immigration. A major concern in the public debate is that immigrants could take jobs from natives, reduce their wages and negatively contribute to public finances. At the same time, the rise of right-wing populist movements has brought to light that the skepticism towards immigrants and refugees may not only be based only on economic but also on cultural considerations. This report is devoted to investigating these considerations by carefully relying on the existing evidence. We thus study the vast literature on the effects of immigration on the labor market and welfare system in host societies, as well as the more recent literature on the attitudinal and political consequences of immigration.

The literature on the labor market impact of immigration indicates that immigration has a negligible average impact on the wages and employment of native workers. However, because adjustments take time, particularly when immigration is unexpected, the initial and longer run impacts of immigration can differ. The average impact of immigration on public finance is also negligible, sometimes slightly positive or slightly negative. We also document that immigration can have distributional consequences. In particular, the age and educational structure of immigrants plays an important role in determining their impact on the labor market and public finances.

The fact that immigration is sometimes perceived as a factor depressing economic outcomes in host countries tends to affect native attitudes and electoral outcomes. In this regard, the literature first suggests that cultural concerns is the main driving force behind the skepticism towards immigration and that fiscal or labor market concerns only play a secondary role. Second, immigration tends to reduce the support for redistribution among native workers. Third, the effect of local level exposure to immigrants and refugees on native attitudes towards immigrants and extreme voting has been found to vary by context and can be positive or negative.

 Keywords : Immigration | Labour Market | Public finance | Redistribution | Voting

 JEL : D72, E62, F22, H62, J15
CEPII Policy Brief
N°2018-22,  2018

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