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The economic consequences of the flow of refugees into Belgium

Author

Listed:
  • K. Burggraeve

    (National Bank of Belgium)

  • C. Piton

    (National Bank of Belgium)

Abstract

The article attempts to put into context and estimate the economic impact of the recent arrival of asylum-seekers in Belgium. Despite the wide media coverage, this wave of refugees only accounts for a very small proportion of the Belgian population and is still much the same as the numbers recorded in the 2000s. Its economic impact should not be overestimated either. The authors' estimates point to a relatively limited but still positive effect on economic activity, of around 0.17 % by the year 2020, and, even though the resultant costs weigh heavily on public finances in the short term, a return to a balanced budget is expected in the medium term. It should be noted that better integration into the labour market could bring more positive results. Yet, the employment rate among immigrants is low, especially in Belgium, and the gap with respect to Belgians remains significant. Only part of this phenomenon can be explained by individual features of the foreign population. The problem of recognition of qualifications and skills, lack of human and cultural capital in the host country as well as some degree of discrimination also constitute barriers to immigrant employment. In spite of various policies that have already been put in place, a lot more effort still has to be made to improve the integration of foreigners on the labour market and their socio-economic status too. The country’s economy will then be able to take full advantage of the contribution from their labour force.

Suggested Citation

  • K. Burggraeve & C. Piton, 2016. "The economic consequences of the flow of refugees into Belgium," Economic Review, National Bank of Belgium, issue i, pages 43-61, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbb:ecrart:y:2016:m:june:i:i:p:43-61
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    File URL: https://www.nbb.be/doc/oc/repec/ecrart/ecorevi2016_h3.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. W. Melyn & L. Van Meensel & S. Van Parys, 2016. "The sustainability of public finances in the context of population ageing," Economic Review, National Bank of Belgium, issue iii, pages 87-103, December.
    2. Lens, Dries & Marx, Ive & Vujic, Suncica, 2018. "Is Quick Formal Access to the Labor Market Enough? Refugees' Labor Market Integration in Belgium," IZA Discussion Papers 11905, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Céline Piton & François Rycx, 2020. "The Heterogeneous Employment Outcomes of First- and Second-generation Immigrants in Belgium," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2020007, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    4. Piton, Céline & Rycx, François, 2020. "A Broken Social Elevator? Employment Outcomes of First- and Second-generation Immigrants in Belgium," GLO Discussion Paper Series 485, Global Labor Organization (GLO).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    international migration; refugee; labour market integration;

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing

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