Refugees ‘may end up boosting European economies’: Analysts

By: |
Paris | September 15, 2015 6:46 PM

European nations overwhelmed by the biggest refugee crisis since World War II may end up boosting their economies if they just let the migrants in, analysts say.

Migrants refugeeMore than 430,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean to Europe so far this year. (Reuters)

European nations overwhelmed by the biggest refugee crisis since World War II may end up boosting their economies if they just let the migrants in, analysts say.

More than 430,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean to Europe so far this year. Nearly 2,750 have died, and more arrive every day, many fleeing war zones in Syria and Afghanistan.

The challenge has left the European Union scrambling for answers, with member nations disagreeing Monday over a proposal to share out 120,000 refugees and ease the burden on frontline states.

But beyond the immediate logistical challenges and predominant humanitarian concerns, the economic impact of the tide of refugees moving to Europe is slight, and may well be positive, analysts say.

Welcoming refugees offers Europe the chance “not only to honour its position as a democratic Union that is wealthy and respectful of tradition, but also to expand its growth prospects,” Patrick Artus, economist at French investment bank Natixis, said in a recent report.

Holger Schmieding, economist at the German investment bank Berenberg, estimated that the arrival of refugees could boost economic output in the eurozone by 0.2 percent as of the second half of 2015.

Migrants play an important role in economic expansion and in periods of decline, said historian Nancy Green, researcher at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences in Paris.

New arrivals often work in sectors where conditions are viewed as unsatisfactory for native-born workers, she said, citing the clothing and steel industries of the 19th and 20th centuries and the services industries of today.

“Our continent could and should become a great land for immigration in the 21st century,” influential French economist Thomas Piketty wrote in a recent column in the French daily Liberation.

The costs to national budgets are minimal, too, according to a report issued last year by the club of advanced economies, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

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