Infotech Flow, cost, integration… What to remember from the OECD annual report on immigration

Flow, cost, integration… What to remember from the OECD annual report on immigration

Six months before the presidential election, immigration is already shaping up to be one of the flagship themes of the campaign. While the subject concentrates the divisions, the annual study of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) published this Thursday, October 28 comes to enlighten it, focusing in particular on the figures of immigration, its cost for countries or the impact of “Residential segregation of immigrants”.

  • A year of record decline in immigration

“The Covid-19 crisis led to the biggest drop on record in immigration flows in OECD countries, by more than 30%”, write the authors of this study. In 2020, 3.7 million people have joined 25 of its member countries, the lowest level recorded for immigration since 2003.

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Among the five main OECD countries of destination, France recorded the least marked decline (-21%), with 230,000 “New immigrants” in 2020, according to the OECD.

“All categories of permanent immigration decreased in 2020”, continues the organization. Family migration, traditionally the primary driver of displacement, has recorded a decline “Most important” with more than 35% decrease.

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The OECD, which can in this report measure for the first time the effect of a full year of pandemic on migration, estimates that the Covid-19 “Put an end to ten years of continuous improvement in the situation of immigrants on the labor market”. On average, more than two-thirds of immigrants were employed in 2020, a decrease of 2% in one year. “Immigrants are still among the most vulnerable populations, because they are concentrated in the most affected sectors, such as hotels and restaurants”, observes with AFP Jean-Christophe Dumont, Head of the Migration Division of the OECD.

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  • Immigrants cost the state nothing (or almost)

How much does immigration really cost? It is a subject often at the heart of political questions that feeds many fantasies on the right and on the far right. But, according to the OECD, by making the ratio between the contributions paid by immigrants and the public expenditure of the State, this cost is in equilibrium – even is positive.

“In all countries, the contribution of immigrants in the form of taxes and contributions is greater than the expenditure that countries devote to their social protection, health and education”, writes the organization.

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In France, for example, the net budgetary contribution of people born abroad is 1.02% of GDP, and therefore slightly in surplus, against an average of 1.56% for all countries.

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For Jean-Christophe Dumont, the question of the cost of immigration ” should not obsess us, because when we do the count, we observe that the contribution is positive until the military expenditure and the public debt are taken into account ”. Indeed, when the defense budget and the repayment of the public debt, which do not only concern immigrants but the entire population, are taken into account, the contribution becomes negative for France (-0.85%) as for the average of the 25 countries studied (-0.16).

Today, according to the OECD, public spending on immigrants is lower than for the rest of the population in areas such as old age and survivors’ pensions, sickness, disability, education, health. Conversely, they are stronger with regard to the family, unemployment, social exclusion and housing.

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Overall, the foreign-born contribute 11% less than the “Native” to the state budget. A contribution “Leaded” by poor integration into the labor market, with 56% of immigrants in employment in France, decrypts Jean-Christophe Dumont. The OECD therefore carried out a simulation: with an employment rate similar to the rest of the population, immigrants could generate an additional 0.2% of GDP for the public accounts.

  • Positive and perverse effects of community life

The OECD has also looked at the concentration of foreign populations in the same geographical areas. If this form of communitarianism can be beneficial at first, because “Arriving in a highly concentrated area often offers better employment prospects for immigrants”, on the long term, “The concentration of immigrants tends to slow down their acquisition of the language of the host country and, often, the educational progress of their children”, can we read in this study.

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In particular, the OECD estimates that the concentration of immigrant children in certain schools generates a “Handicap” which results in a cumulative delay “One year of schooling” in several countries including France, Germany or Belgium. A phenomenon that could be explained by the social context of these neighborhoods and in disadvantaged families, where the language of the country is generally not that spoken in the home, continues Gilles Spielvogel, co-author of the study.

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“It doesn’t matter if they go to these places, because it lowers the cost of entry. What is serious is that they stay there and isolate themselves. The sticking point is more structural: it is the housing policy, access to employment ”, summarizes Jean-Christophe Dumont, head of the Migration division of the OECD.

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In its report, the OECD recalls that several countries have attempted a strategy of dispersing new arrivals on their territory. Without much result at this stage. “It resulted in lower employment rates”, can we read in the study. “Not to mention that many immigrants who were the subject of dispersal measures then returned to settle in segregated areas. “

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