OECD Immigration Rises To 4 Million A Year

OECD immigration rises to 4m a year

By Andrew Taylor.
The Financial Times (London), September 10 2008

About 4m people emigrated to live permanently in OECD countries in 2006, a five per cent increase on the previous year, with the US and UK the most popular destinations, the Paris-based organisation reported on Wednesday.

Family reunification accounted for 44 per cent of moves. Moving abroad for work accounted for another 14 per cent, it said.

Asylum seeking, however, has become less significant, with inflows falling to 282,000 in 2006, the lowest level since 1987 representing only 7 per cent of permanent moves abroad.

The US, with 1.26m emigrants received about one third of all permanent inflows followed by the UK (with 343,200), Canada (251,600) Germany (216,000) and Italy (204,300).

Some of the largest increases in inflows were in the US, Korea and Spain. But as a percentage of total population, Ireland, New Zealand and Switzerland received some of the biggest inflows representing more than 1 per cent of their populations.

Family reunification was the biggest reason given by emigrants to the US, accounting for 70 per cent of permanent moves. Many European countries, among them Italy, Ireland, Spain and the UK were more popular as destinations for job-seekers, with work reasons accounting for between 30 per cent and 40 per cent of moves to these countries.

Some 60 per cent of immigrant inflows in Europe were of European origin. Emigrants from Asia, however, accounted for almost 50 per cent of moves to other OECD countries.

Europe was also the destination of choice for over 85 per cent of emigrants from North Africa although 60 per cent of moves from sub-Saharan countries were to other non -European OECD countries. The US remained the country of choice for Latin American emigrants, mainly from Mexico. Portugal and Spain, however, were becoming more popular.

Some 20 countries accounted for 60 per cent of all immigrants to OECD countries with China, Poland, and Romania accounting for the largest number.

Polish immigration, which has recently begun to decline in the UK, rose sharply in 2006 in Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark and Germany, said the OECD.

The impact on national job markets of such large flows varies considerably. Immigrants in Finland accounted for less than 3 per cent of total employment. This rose to as high as 25 per cent in Australia, Switzerland and New Zealand, 11.2 per cent in the UK and 15.7 per cent in the US.

The number of international students studying in OECD countries has also risen sharply, increasing by about 50 per cent between 2000 and 2005.

Student numbers in the US and UK rose by about 120,000 over the period and by 100,000 in France and 85,000 in Australia. But the biggest percentage increases occurred in New Zealand, the Czech Republic, Japan, Korea and the Netherlands.

Many international students stay on, providing a potential source of future skills for their host countries, said the OECD.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The OECD report is available online at: http://www.oecd.org/document/61/0,3343,en_2649_201185_41288829