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Migrants' Skills And Productivity: A European Perspective


  • Peter Huber

    (Austrian Institute of Economic Research (WIFO))

  • Michael Landesmann

    (The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (wiiw))

  • Catherine Robinson

    (WISERD and School of Business and Economics, Swansea University

  • Robert Stehrer

    (The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (wiiw))


The freedom of movement of persons is one of the core tenets of the European Union. Immigration however is often seen as a cause for concern amongst native workers, as rising labour supply may threaten jobs and create downward pressure on wages. National politicians are increasingly under pressure to guard against it - in times of recession particularly. Despite this, there is evidence that highly-skilled migrant labour has the potential to raise competitiveness significantly and in theory this may feed into productivity. In this paper, we explore first the composition of inward migration to the EU and within the EU, concentrating specifically on the role of the highly-skilled and the extent to which migrants are overqualified within their jobs. We then analyse whether migrant workers affect productivity at the sectoral level. We find underutilisation of skilled foreign labour and there is little evidence in general to suggest that migrants have raised productivity which may in part be attributable to over-qualification. However, we find robust evidence that migrants - particularly highly-skilled migrants - play a positive role in productivity developments in industries which are classified as 'skill intensive'.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter Huber & Michael Landesmann & Catherine Robinson & Robert Stehrer, 2010. "Migrants' Skills And Productivity: A European Perspective," National Institute Economic Review, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, vol. 213(1), pages 20-34, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:niesru:v:213:y:2010:i:1:p:r20-r34

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    Cited by:

    1. Michael Landesmann & Sandra M. Leitner, 2018. "Immigration and Innovation," wiiw Working Papers 158, The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies, wiiw.
    2. repec:cog:socinc:v:6:y:2018:i:3:p:6-33 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:taf:rjapxx:v:20:y:2015:i:4:p:594-612 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Deahoon Nahm & Massimiliano Tani, 2015. "Skilled immigrants' contribution to productive efficiency," Journal of the Asia Pacific Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(4), pages 594-612, October.
    5. Muysken, Joan & Ziesemer, Thomas, 2011. "Immigration and growth in an ageing economy," MERIT Working Papers 012, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    6. M Daniele Paserman, 2013. "Do high-skill immigrants raise productivity? Evidence from Israeli manufacturing firms, 1990-1999," IZA Journal of Migration and Development, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 2(1), pages 1-31, December.
    7. World Bank Group, 2015. "Malaysia Economic Monitor, December 2015," World Bank Other Operational Studies 23565, The World Bank.
    8. Muñoz de Bustillo, Rafael & Sarkar, Sudipa & Sebastián, Raquel & Antón, José-Ignacio, 2018. "Education mismatch in Europe at the turn of the century: Measurement, intensity and evolution," MPRA Paper 85779, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item


    Migration; skills; productivity; European Union;


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