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Europe’s Refugee Crisis. Zur aktuellen politischen Ökonomie von Migration, Asyl und Integration in Europa
[Europe's Refugee Crisis. On the current political economy of migration, asylum and integration in Europe]


  • Tausch, Arno


Given the dramatic images on the screens of international television stations every day, there is no shortage of warnings that speak of a new "Migration Period" in global history. Realistic estimates on what is to be expected in Europe over the coming months based on existing, openly accessible and reliable sources on this subject have not yet been published. How many people will come to Europe as migrants from the region of the Middle East and the Islamic world, and how many asylum seekers will submit their applications? What should be done in terms of labor market policies? What will be the trajectories of societal integration? Our contribution applies up-to-date statistics and proven ways of interpreting the data established by recent international migration research in order to make reasonably and reliable first statements about the migration potential from the Arab countries to Europe. In a separate chapter we also present projections based on UNHCR asylum statistics and the probable distribution of the number of the expected 850,000 Syrian refugees which will come to Europe in the coming months according to numerous think tanks. We attempt our evaluations in the overall framework of the analysis of the bilateral global migration matrix of the World Bank, which permits a unique insight into the dynamics of global migration. To our knowledge, it is the first time that these data are used in the context of the current crisis. In retrospective, the literature written before the 2004 EU-enlargement, still offers many lessons for today and can be distinguished into two methodological approaches: a) Studies, based on social science surveys on the intention to emigrate b) Model calculations, based on wage differentials and the different levels of development Seen in the light of the most recent World Bank data we can say today that some forecasts written before 2004 survived the passage of time; especially the study by Richard Layard, Olivier Blanchard, Rudi Dornbusch and Paul Krugman; and the study by Ewald Walterskirchen and Raimund Dietz from the Austrian Economics Research Institute WIFO. In retrospective, these models predicted most accurately the world of the 2013 World Bank data. Both models were based on wage differentials. The models rested on the famous work of Barro and Sala-i-Martin, 1991, 1995: a wage differential or income differential of 10% would lead to a net migration of between 0.05% and 0.15% per annum of the resident population of the poorer country to the richer country. We show in our paper how today's data by the World Bank are well explained by such a Barro type of approach from 1990 onwards. The application of the Barro-formula to the Arab world from 1990 onwards results in a migration backlog of 23.4 million people, which corresponds almost exactly to the number of 26.8 million people who emigrated from the region according to the World Bank Migration Matrix. In line with the other still relevant survey on East European Migration, published by Fassmann and Hintermann, 1997, we distinguish between the intention to emigrate, the planning of migration and the concrete steps of the preparation of migration. From the most recent Gallup data we can conclude that for every 100 people who say in surveys that they want to emigrate actually only 3.0 will really go. This is strongly reminiscent of the early results in the Fassmann and Hintermann study. The Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS) in Doha in Qatar, which is regarded as a semi-official think tank of the government of Qatar, is at the forefront of the expanding industry of representative opinion polls in the Middle East region. An ACRPS survey in Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, the Occupied Territories of Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Kuwait, which represents 90% of the total population of the Arab League, provided additional data which we can use in our projections of the expected migration from the Arab world (in millions of persons). The ACRPS says that 22% of the total Arab population would like to emigrate. Applying World Bank population figures and the “Gallup key” of 100 intending to emigrate, 7.3 planning to move and 3.0 actually preparing emigration, we arrive at the following figures: Arabs intending to migrate 82.95 millions Arabs planning migration 6.32 millions Arabs already undertaking concrete steps to emigrate 2.50 millions For the period 2015-2020, the overall result is a cumulative number of 0.6 million Arabs and 1.2 million OIC citizens who might be realistically coming to the EU-15. Far from the "Great Migration Period" of populist parties and politicians this influx won’t be negligible, but it is a far cry from what populist politicians will tell us in Europe. Now leaving aside the issue of “normal migration” and debating asylum, we have to state that in our analysis and projections based on UNHCR data, we have to assume that Austria at least will be taking in 7% of the expected number of the 850,000 Syrian refugees to be expected in the coming months. Germany will be confronted with an inflow of more than 500.000 Syrian refugees. In the next part of our analysis, we then deal with the assessment of the hitherto observable performance of the migration policy regime of Schengen. With only 12% of all asylum cases being decided upon in the EU in a positive way, and 73% of asylum decisions being decided in an outright negative way, and another 11% of applicants being granted only a subsidiary protection and another 4% only receiving a residence permit on humanitarian grounds, it is evident that the system is absolutely overburdened by “normal migration” and that in fact it reflects a huge and gigantic black market for migration. The EU’s total population increase is the result of 0.5 million persons attributable to natural population growth and 0.9 million persons attributable to net immigration. In other words, net immigration to Europe already supplies 64% of the population growth of the European Union. Turkey, Morocco and Albania are the biggest beneficiaries of this migration process to Europe. The residence permits for third country nationals (2.5 million titles in 2010) have to be broken down as follows: • work visas 32.5% • family reunification visas 30.2% • study visas 20.6% • various other reasons 17% (protection-related, residence without the right to work, etc.). In addition, there are 2 million up to 4.5 million illegal immigrants living in the EU-28; around 300.000 persons to whom entry into the EU was denied and 400.000-500.000 people who are arrested at the borders annually, trying to cross the borders illegally. Reducing the inflated number of family reunification visas and substantially increasing the number of work visas would be one first and very necessary step to bring some sort of sanity into this completely bankrupt migration policy regime. While Hatton, 2009, and Neumayer, 2005, 2006a and 2006b provided important and valuable cross-national insights on the drivers of the asylum seeking process, as yet little is known in terms of hard-core evidence about the effects of asylum-driven migration processes on the recipient countries. But such analyses are necessary, since asylum plays such an important role in the overall South-North migration process, and several international decision makers, especially on the European level, are increasingly stressing the necessity to get asylum seekers into employment, while others – like the Austrian Ministry of the Interior in its long-term strategy, published in 2012 – vehemently argue in favor of a clear separation between legal, employment-related migration and asylum. Will ‘getting asylum seekers into employment’ have any effects on social and economic development, or will it motivate more and more people to emigrate for work as “free riders” of the asylum system? Our data analysis is based on the tradition of cross-national development accounting, using an expanded version of the Tausch, 2012b data set ('Corvinus University data set') and UNDP, 2009 and UNHCR, 2012 figures on migration. We start these empirical cross-national analyses by providing some calculations about the societal effects of the well-known Migration Policy Index (MIPEX-Index), which measures the general institutional ease with which migration recipient countries integrate migrants. Our calculations reconfirm the reservations by the present author (Tausch, 2010, 2012) against the generalized neo-liberal thesis that a free migration process automatically ensures economic prosperity. With the level of development and the overall conditions of the migration process being constant, there are some very serious and significant negative partial correlations of the MIPEX Index with indicators of political participation and the fight against discrimination. Our data also show the significant pull-factors, caused by an open migration regime, as measured by the MIPEX Index, as well as the societal consequences of a high MIPEX Index score - growing xenophobia against the weakest groups in society - such as the Roma and Sintis, an ensuing growing public debt burden, and lower economic growth. One might still argue that, on ethical grounds, one should be still in favor of increasing MIPEX index performance, but in terms of its societal consequences, our results suggest to be pessimistic. We then move on to analyze systematically the effects of the UNDP cross-national migration variables on socio-economic development and vice versa. Our hypothesis is that opening the gates of unlimited access of asylum seekers to the labor market an even more substantial number of people would decide to enter the labor markets in the developed countries in Europe via the asylum procedure, thus thwarting any attempts to arrive at a more education and skill oriented immigration system. We try to corroborate this by first looking into the question of the relationship between access liberalization, measured by the MIPEX Index, and the UNDP documented asylum burden rate. Although the relationship is not too strong, there is some positive trade-offs between the two variables. In our study, we also provide a very clear-cut argument on how a migration policy, based on asylum influx, is ill-conceived, and several important phenomena are significantly being undermined - internal security, the balance of tolerance in society, gender relations, education, and environmental conditions. Our partial correlation analysis shows that with increasing dependence on the immigration system based on the influx of asylum seekers, there is a significantly larger societal acceptance of the value orientation that men have precedence on the labor market over women when jobs are scarce; et cetera. We then document the positive effects of work permit requirements for asylum seekers, still in place in several European countries and documented by the European Commission/Europäische Kommission (2012), on various socio-economic indicators from the Tausch 2012b Corvinus data set, including environment data, economic growth, education, and World Values Survey indicators of tolerance and volunteer activities. Social security, growth, environmental policy, education, health, liberal values in society - all these are positively affected by a work permit regime for asylum seekers in Europe, which the European Commission seems to be inclined to abolish. We also show the sobering results of the determinants of average economic growth rates in the EU-27 in the era of the current world economic crisis, 2008 to 2011. The crisis hit the poorer EU countries - ceteris paribus - far harder than the richer countries, and immigration rates are a significant negative determinant of growth, while the work permits regime for asylum seekers significantly and positively affects economic growth. We also present estimates of the determinants of asylum burden rates in the world system. In addition to the famous 'bell-curve' of the levels of development, private health expenditures and the military personnel rates are significant drivers of asylum burden rates, while we also show that dependency from the large transnational corporations (measured by UNCTAD data on MNC penetration and its rise over time) are conducive to such higher asylum burden rates. Thus, we can show that traditional quantitative approaches to international development, initiated by the Swiss sociologist Volker Bornschier, which are based on UNCTAD data on MNC penetration and its rise over time, explain well contemporary social asylum process realities of the world today. By contrast, an employment policy favoring the employment rates of older workers generally deters higher asylum dependency ratios. We finally show bivariate and partial correlations of asylum procedure global recognition rates, as documented by the UNHCR for 2010, and key variables of socio-economic development, as documented in Tausch, 2012a, 2012b. Our results again would caution against an asylum-based or asylum-driven immigration policy. We conclude by saying that the European Commission would be well advised to seek to redistribute current asylum inflows from countries like Germany, France, Netherlands, Sweden, and Austria to other EU-member countries, thus providing more fairness in the current Schengen system. Tripling the European numbers of legal work permits would also be an advisable strategy, and Europe should seriously consider the new Austrian migration procedure for third-country nationals (Red-White-Red-card) as a best practice model. The third major issue with which we are dealing here is the absorption capacity of European states. Are there limits to integration in times of mass inward migration? We provide our readers with a case study, based on as special evaluation of available statistics from the Austrian BMI (Ministry of the Interior), the Austrian Central Statistical Office, and the UNHCR in the context of current debates around the theme "Migration, integration and asylum". Not preconceived ideas, but the statistics program packages Excel and SPSS and the use of modern social science methods should provide us with the best available information to draw conclusions. One might argue that the comparison of statistics about the shares of different resident nationalities per total population in a migration destination country and the shares of different resident nationalities per total convicted criminals is a useless indicator and presents a distorted picture, because the justice system in the developed Western democracies is racist and discriminatory. We are well aware of the entire phalanx of sociological literature (see Binswanger et al, 2012; Bishop et al, 2010; Crutchfield et al, 2010; Fekete and Webber, 2010; Lopez, 2010; Wall, 2011; Reskin, 2012; Tonry, 2010), which is inclined to see institutional racism of the police and the justice system at work when one is confronted by the statistics of the US prison population rates. But on the other hand is the rule of law in in the West so corrupted that the results of jurisprudence are so distorted? In Austria, the share of the 1.4 million resident foreigners among the persons convicted as rapists is twice as high as their share in the total population; and for the case of robbery, it is even 2.4 times higher. It could be argued that again we are confronted with racist and xenophobic authorities. In Austria, recent data suggest that Muslims are only 6.8% of the resident population while the share of Muslims in the total prison population is 19.3%, i.e. around 2.8 times as high as would have been expected. Austrian officialdom tends to say that crimes are committed by individuals and not by ethnic or religious groups. But is this really all we can say on the issue? Our statistical analysis precisely attempts to do what an entire sub-discipline of the social science profession will vehemently argue against: to compare the rates of different nationalities, resident in Austria, among the crime suspects per total population with the share of the different nationalities per total resident population. 3.74% of the resident population of Austria - citizens of Romania and Bulgaria, and the former USSR, incl. Chechnya, and other third countries, already have a share of 21.62% of all convicted murderers. The citizens of 11 countries succeeded in achieving a suspect rate which is below the level of the resident Austrians 1. Korea, Rep. (South) 2. Indonesia 3. Japan 4. Cambodia 5. Singapore 6. Cyprus 7. Turkmenistan 8. Canada 9. Ethiopia 10. Philippines 11. Finland while the residents from more than 30 nations had a suspect rate of 10% or more. The analyzed figures show on the one hand that a simplistic anti-Muslim propaganda cannot explain why the nationals from Muslim-majority countries such as Indonesia and Turkmenistan so easily adopted to Austrian society, while the nationals of other nations are confronted with a suspect per total population rate of 10 or more percent. But we also present multivariate calculations on the statistical relationships between aggregate characteristics of the home countries of migrants and their police suspect rates in Austria as an indicator of “problems of integration”, independent of the development levels achieved • A high level of education in the home country makes migrants from this country more immune to the siren calls of crime abroad • home country gender empowerment data show that if a migrant already experienced gender empowerment in his home country, his or her integration abroad is much easier and the police suspect rates are significantly lower • Migrants raised and educated in political cultures where there is already a high level of environmental policy-awareness are less prone to become police suspects • People from countries which do not discriminate against their own immigrants at home find it much easier than others to integrate; their police suspect rates are much lower • The homicide rate in the country of origin has no statistical impact on the police suspect rate in Austria We also present multiple regression results from 147 countries which show that migration pressure, defined here as the per mille of the population of a country, being a resident in the EU-15, is a curve-linear function of the income level of the country in terms of the EU purchasing power, and a negative function of the satisfaction of the population with the local labor market. Membership in the European Economic Area and geographical distance to Belgium as the geographical center of the European Union wield no significant effect.

Suggested Citation

  • Tausch, Arno, 2015. "Europe’s Refugee Crisis. Zur aktuellen politischen Ökonomie von Migration, Asyl und Integration in Europa
    [Europe's Refugee Crisis. On the current political economy of migration, asylum and integra
    ," MPRA Paper 67400, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:67400

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Tito Boeri, 2010. "Immigration to the Land of Redistribution," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 77(308), pages 651-687, October.
    2. Tausch, Arno, 2013. "The hallmarks of crisis. A new center-periphery perspective on long cycles," MPRA Paper 48356, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Mette Foged & Giovanni Peri, 2016. "Immigrants' Effect on Native Workers: New Analysis on Longitudinal Data," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(2), pages 1-34, April.
    4. Constant, Amelie & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2005. "Immigrant Performance and Selective Immigration Policy: A European Perspective," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 94-105.
    5. Mathias Czaika & Amy Mayer, 2011. "Refugee Movements and Aid Responsiveness of Bilateral Donors," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 47(3), pages 455-474.
    6. Arno Tausch, 2010. "The European Union’s failed “Lisbon strategy”," Society and Economy, Akadémiai Kiadó, Hungary, vol. 32(1), pages 103-121, June.
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    8. Hinte, Holger & Rinne, Ulf & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2015. "Flüchtlinge in Deutschland: Realismus statt Illusionen," IZA Standpunkte 83, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
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    10. Arno Tausch, 2011. "Globalisierung und die Zukunft der EU-2020-Strategie," Working Paper Reihe der AK Wien - Materialien zu Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft 111, Kammer für Arbeiter und Angestellte für Wien, Abteilung Wirtschaftswissenschaft und Statistik.
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    Cited by:

    1. Tausch, Arno, 2016. "Global Catholicism in the age of mass migration and the rise of populism: comparative analyses, based on recent World Values Survey and European Social Survey data," MPRA Paper 75243, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item


    international migration; human resources; human development; income distribution; migration; regional migration; regional labour markets; population; neighbourhood characteristics;

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population

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