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The ESPON 2013 Operational Programme
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Share of international migrants in total population, 2013

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Map
data source and more Map: M4D, UMS RIATE
Data sources: United Nations, Population Division ā€“ Trends in International Migrant Stocks the 2013 Revision
 

  • International migration and labour mobility ensures a labour force both at the right place and with the necessary skills to reinforce Europeā€™s long-term development.
  • There are national differences in employment rates among international migrants as stated by the UN. Reasons for these differences are not easy to identify, but low employment rates among migrants are likely to include lack of recognition of foreign qualifications and insufficient knowledge of the local language.
  • The economic and financial crisis had an impact on migration flows within the EU; Southern European regions most hit by the crisis have less EU migrants but receive still many extra-European migrants. This increases socio-economic and demographic challenges of these regions.

Observations for policy

Labour mobility and the free movement of people is one of the cornerstones of European integration. Migration and labour mobility ensures a labour force where needed with the necessary skills to reinforce Europeā€™s long-term development. Since 1990, more international migrants have joined the labour market, however with varying successes.

Europe is one of the most attractive parts of the word for international migrants. This concerns migrants between European countries and extra-European migrants. Especially small and relatively wealthy countries have high shares of population born outside the country. This includes Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and Switzerland. Large shares of international migrants have its effect on the socioeconomic and demographic structure of countries and raises new challenges and opportunities in mainly urban areas. This is related to social inclusion, integration and sometime segregation in cities.

The economic and financial crisis increased, decreased and sometimes even reversed migration flows. Whereas countries most hit by the crisis experience less labour-related immigration, some of these countries experience still considerable immigration of asylum seekers. This creates both opportunities as well as challenges for those regions most prone to international migrants.

Policy context

Policies regarding international migration should be seen from the types of flow that can be distinguished. Migration can be intra-European or extra-European and is related to different drivers for migration, such as study or career opportunities, family reasons, or political reasons.

The proportions of persons born in another EU country than they are living in, increased between 2001 and 2012 from 1.4% to 2.7%. This is still smaller than the persons living in the EU but born outside, which increased from 2.7% to 4.1% in the same period, as mentioned in a report by the UNā€™s Population Division.

EU policies promote labour mobility between European countries contributing to the competitiveness of European and ensuring a labour force at the right place with the necessary skills to reinforce Europeā€™s long-term development. This is reflected under the priority of promoting employment and supporting labour mobility, promoting social inclusion and combating poverty for the EUā€™s 2014-2020 Cohesion Policy. There are however considerable differences in Europe concerning employment rates of migrants. According the 6th Cohesion Report (p. 91), the employment rates of migrants in the UK, Portugal, Luxembourg and Finland are around 5 percentage points higher than for the rest of the population, while in countries like Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden they are around 18 percentage points lower. Reasons for this difference are not easy to identify, but they are likely to include lack of recognition of foreign qualifications and insufficient knowledge of the local language as stated by the UN.

Possible problems might emerge related to the integration of international migrants in their new country of residence. This mostly concerns urban areas where large migrant groups are clustered. EU policies like the Territorial Agenda 2020 encourages integrated development in cities and social inclusion, rural and specific regions.

Map interpretation

The map shows the proportion of each countryā€™s total population that can be considered as ā€œinternational migrantsā€. International migrants are defined as persons living outside their country of birth. The map separates countries having a proportion of international migrants in the total population higher or lower than the global mean. The resulting map suggests a dichotomy between countries that are attractive to migrants and other countries. Europe, including Russia, as well as Northern America, Australia and New Zealand and some countries of the Arabian Peninsula and African countries are the most attractive places for international migration.

However, a difference within Europe can be noted as well. Eastern European countries have less international migrants than Western of Southern European countries.

The stock of international migrants increased more than 1/3 between 1990 and 2013, amounting to 3.2% of the worldā€™s population in 2013 (232 million people). In Europe 72 million people live outside their country of birth. In 2013, half of all international migrants lived in 10 countries, with the US hosting the largest number (45.8 million), followed by the Russian Federation (11 million) and Germany (9.8 million). Other European countries with large stock of international migrants are the United Kingdom (7.8 million), France (7.4 million) and Spain (6.5 million). Spain is one of the worldā€™s countries with the highest increase of international migrants, together with the US and the United Arab Emirates.

The proportion of persons living outside their country of birth differs between European countries. In Luxembourg around 44% of the population is born abroad, while the corresponding rate in Romania is less than 1%. This can be related to the economic structure and the relatively small size of Luxembourg.

Concepts and methods

The map shows the share of international migration, i.e. the share of the population living outside the country of birth. While this definition of international migration is easy to operationalise, it does not necessarily reflect all aspects of migration-related challenges, e.g. in terms of integration of descendants of migrants, and undeclared migration. Furthermore, small countries will tend to have a higher proportion of foreign-born inhabitants, especially when there is a cultural and linguistic proximity with their neighbourhood.


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