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How Immigrants Helped EU Labor Markets to Adjust during the Great Recession

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  • Kahanec, Martin
  • Guzi, Martin

Abstract

The economic literature starting with Borjas (2001) suggests that immigrants are more flexible than natives in responding to changing sectoral, occupational, and spatial shortages in the labor market. In this paper, we study the relative responsiveness to labor shortages by immigrants from various origins, skills and tenure in the country vis-à-vis the natives, and how it varied over the business cycle during the Great Recession. We show that immigrants in general have responded to changing labor shortages across EU member states, occupations and sectors more fluidly than natives. This effect is especially significant for low-skilled immigrants from the new member states or with the medium number of years since immigration, as well as with high-skilled immigrants with relatively few (1-5) or many (11+) years since migration. The relative responsiveness of some immigrant groups declined during the crisis years (those from Europe outside the EU or with eleven or more years since migration), whereas other groups of immigrants became particularly fluid during the Great Recession, such as those from new member states. Our results suggest immigrants may play an important role in labor adjustment during times of asymmetric economic shocks, and support the case for well-designed immigration policy and free movement of workers within the EU. The paper provides new insights into the functioning of the European Single Market and the roles various immigrant groups play for its stabilization through labor adjustment during times of uneven economic development across sectors, occupations, and countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Kahanec, Martin & Guzi, Martin, 2017. "How Immigrants Helped EU Labor Markets to Adjust during the Great Recession," GLO Discussion Paper Series 33, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:glodps:33
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    1. Dustmann, Christian & Glitz, Albrecht & Vogel, Thorsten, 2010. "Employment, wages, and the economic cycle: Differences between immigrants and natives," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 1-17, January.
    2. George J. Borjas, 2021. "Does Immigration Grease the Wheels of the Labor Market?," World Scientific Book Chapters, in: Foundational Essays in Immigration Economics, chapter 14, pages 431-484, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    3. Alfonso Arpaia & Aron Kiss & Balazs Palvolgyi & Alessandro Turrini, 2016. "Labour mobility and labour market adjustment in the EU," IZA Journal of Migration and Development, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 5(1), pages 1-21, December.
    4. Martin Kahanec & Anzelika Zaiceva, 2009. "Labor market outcomes of immigrants and non-citizens in the EU: An East-West comparison," International Journal of Manpower, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 30(1/2), pages 97-115, March.
    5. Martin Guzi & Martin Kahanec & Lucia Mýtna Kureková, 2018. "How Immigration Grease Is Affected by Economic, Institutional, and Policy Contexts: Evidence from EU Labor Markets," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 71(2), pages 213-243, May.
    6. Constant, Amelie F. & Gataullina, Liliya & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2009. "Ethnosizing immigrants," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 69(3), pages 274-287, March.
    7. Martin Kahanec, 2013. "Labor mobility in an enlarged European Union," Chapters, in: Amelie F. Constant & Klaus F. Zimmermann (ed.), International Handbook on the Economics of Migration, chapter 7, pages 137-152, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    8. Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes & Sara De la Rica, 2010. "Immigrants’ responsiveness to labor market conditions and their impact on regional employment disparities: evidence from Spain," SERIEs: Journal of the Spanish Economic Association, Springer;Spanish Economic Association, vol. 1(4), pages 387-407, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Julia Jauer & Thomas Liebig & John P. Martin & Patrick A. Puhani, 2019. "Migration as an adjustment mechanism in the crisis? A comparison of Europe and the United States 2006–2016," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 32(1), pages 1-22, January.
    2. Berger, Johannes & Strohner, Ludwig, 2022. "Can labour mobility reduce imbalances in the euro area?," Research Papers 20, EcoAustria – Institute for Economic Research.
    3. Ritzen, Jo & Kahanec, Martin & Haas, Jasmina, 2017. "EU Mobility," IZA Policy Papers 125, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Guzi, Martin & Kahanec, Martin & Ulceluse, Magdalena M., 2021. "Europe's migration experience and its effects on economic inequality," GLO Discussion Paper Series 757, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    5. Martin Guzi & Štěpán Mikula, 2022. "Reforms that keep you at home: The effects of economic transition on migration," Economics of Transition and Institutional Change, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 30(2), pages 289-310, April.
    6. Manthei, Gerrit, 2020. "The effects of refugee immigration on income inequality in Germany: A case study," FZG Discussion Papers 72, University of Freiburg, Research Center for Generational Contracts (FZG).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    immigrant worker; labor supply; skilled migration; labor shortage; wage regression; Great Recession;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • J68 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Public Policy

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