Migration from countries worst hit by the financial crisis has risen 45 percent from 2009 – 2011, with Southern Europeans in particular fleeing up north to escape recession and record-high unemployment at home, said the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development on Thursday.
In its annual International Migration Outlook report, the Paris-based organisation said immigration in the European Union increased by 15 percent in 2011, after a decline of almost 40 percent in the previous four years.
This trend is driven by people leaving the countries hardest hit by the crisis, where immigration has risen by 45 percent from 2009 to 2011.
In particular, immigration to Germany from Southern Europe surged over the past two years as the unemployed from Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy travelled north to seek work in Europe’s largest economy.
Net migration of foreigners into Germany almost doubled to 302,900 in 2011, said the report. The number of Greek migrants to Germany increased 73 percent between 2011 and 2012 while the number of Spaniards and Portuguese was up almost 50 percent, with Italian migrants increasing 35 percent.
The OECD’s findings support up a report released by the German statistics office in May, which revealed that immigration to Europe's largest economy hit a 17-year high last year.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria said the freedom of European Union citizens to work in other EU countries is "one of the great advantages of the single market" but added that the brain-drain will have long-term consequences for the home economies.
In its report, the OECD also examined what is probably the most politically charged aspect of many nations’ domestic debate about immigration policy and found that the fiscal impact of immigration "is close to zero on average" across the OECD.
"The fiscal impact of immigration cannot be pinned down to a single and undisputable figure," the report said, but argued that the impact, positive or negative, "rarely exceeds 0.5% of gross domestic output."
"If the results described above tell us anything, they tell us that more immigration does not necessarily mean more public debt," it said. “Immigrants are pretty much like the rest of the population in this respect.”