It is not uncommon to hear in the public debate that immigrants "steal" the jobs or that they lower wages. However, economists carried out studies on the impact of immigration on the labor market, showing that the reality is as often more nuanced.

The impact of immigration on the labor market

The question that everyone is asking is whether immigration contributes to increasing unemployment or lowering wages.

Economists have studied these questions for many years, and the results are convergent. The impact is small, rather negative in the short term, and positive both in terms of reducing unemployment and increasing wages in the medium and long term.

It should be understood that immigrants when they arrive in a country, ask for services, particularly housing, and then a certain number of goods. To meet this demand, you have to hire; so we have to recruit people. Immigration, therefore, affects both the supply of labor and the demand for labor.

The economy, as such, is not a fixed-size cake, where you have to cut smaller portions when you have more diners, more people coming in. In fact, immigration helps increase the size of the pie.

It should be understood that immigrant labor firstly provides skills; one-third of immigrants in OECD countries and Europe have higher education qualifications. But, on the other hand, it contributes to supplementing the supply of local work.

Why? Because there are several jobs that are particularly difficult and arduous and which are neglected by the local workforce. And then there are also occupations that are in decline, particularly in crafts and low-skilled work.

So here, what's going on? Young people entering the workforce are turning away from these professions because they lose jobs every year and they see no future. However, these professions have recruitment needs; immigrants fill about a third of them in the European Union.

So immigration plays on the dynamics of the labor market, both to provide skills for the most qualified part, but also by making it possible to meet labor needs at the other end in the most qualified segment, less qualified neglected by the national workforce.

Push and pull factors

Immigrating to another country is very expensive, which is why only a very small fraction of the population does. The cost of immigration includes geographic and language barriers, which together account for a large proportion of the variation in migration flows.

Differences in income between countries of origin and countries of destination are one of the main reasons people migrate. Richer countries attract more immigrants, especially from countries with younger populations. Countries with lower per capita income experience higher immigration, but only if they are not very poor. We find that when the per capita income of the home country is less than $ 7,000, its nationals migrate less to advanced countries. People are, therefore, trapped in poverty because they lack the resources necessary to bear the cost of immigration.

Wars are the main cause of immigration between emerging and developing countries, confirming the importance of geographic proximity in refugee movements. Finally, for the analysis of future migratory pressures, it should be noted that the size of the population of the country of origin is a key driver of migratory flows.

Amplify the gains

Immigration has tremendous benefits for receiving countries and the opportunity for a better life for immigrants. However, it could also create difficulties in the distribution of income, causing economic harm, at least temporary, to indigenous workers in certain market segments. Therefore, fiscal and labor market policy should be employed to provide additional income and new training to indigenous workers who face difficulties in the labor market.

In addition, active labor market and immigration policies aimed at integrating immigrants, in particular by offering them language courses or by facilitating the validation of their professional qualifications, this can make immigration even more beneficial for the receiving countries.

Finally, international coordination is needed to resolve the problems associated with the immigration of refugees. This includes sharing the costs associated with their hosting and promoting their integration in emerging and developing countries.