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Why Do People Migrate? Part 1: Facts

05 Mar 2016, 01:10 PM
Chapters 3 › Unit 3: SCROLL DOWN FOR INSTRUCTIONS View instructions Hide instructions

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This article from The Economist puts the finger on the painful question of the "economic cost" of hosting refugees.
Read the article and comment on the European experiences in this respect in your journal.
You can also comment on what others have done in their own journals!

The economic cost of hosting refugees

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The economic cost of hosting refugees is likely one of the major concerns - along with the risk of facing an uncontrolled influx of alleged “terrorists”, that is fueling the debate against refugees. This is indeed a particularly valid argument considering the current times of global economic crisis.

The article by the Economist is right in pointing to the initial heavy economic cost of hosting refugees, as emerged from the experiences of other countries both in Europe and outside of it. But it is also true that what has come to be known the worst refugee crisis since WWII, is bringing a new profile of refugee: though most of the economic indicators have now collapsed, Syria is a middle income country, with a well educated and skilled population that would be able to contribute to the economies of the host countries and not be merely a burden for public finances.

A large part of the economic impact of hosting refugees would depend on the integration efforts made by the host governments as well as the hosting population. Targeted macroeconomic policies are needed to ensure that the refugee population can successfully integrate into the host country’s economic system and enabled to be productive.

A brilliant idea comes from a very recent Ted Talk by Alexander Betts from the Oxford Refugee Studies Center, who is proposing some concrete solutions to relieve the humanitarian refugee crisis. One of such solutions would be to create special economic zones through targeted investments, to allow the development of manufacturing sector and spur creation of jobs for both local and refugee people. A pilot project would start in Jordan in the coming months (http://www.scidev.net/global/migration/analysis-blog/view-migration-win-plan-refugee-jobs.html). Also, a system to match refugees’ professional profiles with the specific needs of any given host country may contribute to a more successful integration and better chances of employment in the host countries, whose specific needs and requirements may be fulfilled by well qualified foreign labour force.

Finally, young people are over- represented in the refugee population. By welcoming school age children and educating the future labour force, ageing countries in the OECD can help reduce the pressure that the ageing population is putting on the economy.

In sum, efforts should be made to ensure that the influx of refugees can transform from an economic burden for the host country – which is probably what it is going to be on the very short run, to an economic resource and an opportunity for growth on the long run.

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