28.1.2014 | Von:
Frank Swiaczny

International Migration and Migrants

Älteres Paar im Görlitzer Park, Berlin-KreuzbergElderly couple in Goerlitzer Park in Kreuzberg, Berlin. (© Susanne Tessa Müller)

In contrast to the long-term structures of demographic processes, as they become apparent in the current demographic change, international migration in Europe is subject to more pronounced variations depending on the time period and region in question; these developments can only be described in broader terms. These developments are constituted by complex factors, such as the causes for migration, migrants’ motives, ages, or gender, the social structure of the migrating populations, migration distances, the permanence or periodicity of migration, as well as the resulting reciprocal effects between the populations in the regions of origin and the destination regions.

Many migration flows these days react very quickly to changing conditions, for instance favorable conditions in national labor markets. Also the influx of refugees and asylum seekers is based upon quick fluctuations regarding their intensity as well as their countries of origin. Finally, a significant share of immigration is not intended to be long-term, for instance temporary assignments of highly qualified workers or the periodic employment of seasonal workers. It is thus difficult to consider such immigration patterns in model calculations of the future population development. Other demographic effects of immigration, however, are long-term in scope. Considering the relationship between migration and demographic change, so-called "chain migration" plays an important role in Europe. To this day the former "guest worker migration" is still being followed by their families, and the regions which were the main destinations for immigration in the past are still demographically profiting from this.

Migration and Population Structure

Migration movements of the past have impacted the current population structure of many European countries. The most substantial immigrant groups in European countries include the migrants from the former colonies (e.g. from Algeria and Morocco in France, from Pakistan and India in Great Britain, and from Indonesia in the Netherlands) or from “guest worker recruitment countries” (e.g. from Turkey in Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands, and from Italy in Germany and France), but also migrants which arrived as part of refugee migration to Europe (from Iraq, Nigeria and Sudan e.g. in Denmark, Ireland, Norway, and the Netherlands) (see Chart 4). Also the migration within the EU, which is based upon the principal of freedom of establishment, has impacted the population structures in the selected EU-countries, especially the migration from their respective neighboring countries.

Chart 4: Migrant Populations in Selected European Countries in 1990, 2000, and 2010, according to their Regions of OriginChart 4: Migrant Populations in Selected European Countries in 1990, 2000, and 2010, according to their Regions of Origin Lizenz: cc by-nc-nd/3.0/de/ (bpb)
The case of Poland allows us to illustrate the importance of the labor market influence upon migration within the EU in the last two decades. After 1990 the number of Polish migrants in countries such as Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Norway, and Great Britain increased quickly. Between 2000 and 2010 the emigration to other EU countries dwindled. Due to the positive economic development during this time period, Poland had even become a destination country for immigration, especially from other eastern European states. A comparable development can be seen in Spain, which had long been an emigration country (e.g. during the "guest worker phase"). Especially between 2000 and 2010 the immigration from Romania, but also from North Africa and Latin America, increased substantially. In the latest economic crisis these migration flows have in part changed considerably; however, the selected data sources do not yet permit scientific analysis of these newer developments[1].

This text is part of the policy brief on "Demographic Change and Migration in Europe".


For more information concerning this development see the short dossier "Does the Crisis Make People Move? EU Internal Migration and Economic Disparities in Europe" available at: http://www.bpb.de/gesellschaft/migration/dossier-migration/157032/eu-internal-migration (accessed on 12 September 2013).
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