A new Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report indicates that US incoming immigration numbers surpassed those in Europe, reversing a decade-long trend. Europe’s troubled economies likely play the largest role in this development. However, the rise of right-wing political parties might also have made the region less appealing to immigrants.
A Change in the Tides
For more than ten years, Europe consistently racked up higher numbers of immigrants than the US. However, the OECD has released a report showing that immigrants to the US outnumbered their Europe-bound counterparts by around 80,000 people in 2012. The study compared immigrants in the US to those in the 28 countries in the European Union. Analysts have highlighted two principal reasons for this Trans-Atlantic shift.
It’s the Economy
As Europe continues to reel from the economic crisis, immigrants have borne the brunt of the fallout. This is particularly true in the so-called PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain), which have struggling economies compared to just a few years ago. Ireland, which saw a massive uptake in immigration around the beginning of the millennium, has also experienced a net decrease in immigrants. Germany’s strong economy, in contrast, has continued to attract an increasing number of immigrants. Europe still represents the closest and most convenient destination for many people leaving troubled areas in Africa and the Middle East.
Political Realities and Immigration
On top of the economic incentives immigrants respond to, the current political mood in several parts of Europe has taken a clear anti-immigration shift. Many anti-immigration groups on the continent have cited these numbers as a positive development. However, some have expressed concerns about how to revitalize the workforces of countries with increasingly older, less fertile populations and expensive social safety networks to fund.
How the U.S. Differs
Some economists and financial analysts have argued that the US economy has shown important signs of recovery that Europe has not. In years past, the US has also experienced decreases in inbound immigration during economic downturns. Politically, immigration continues to spark polarized debates on a national scale in the US. Political developments may also shape US immigration trends in the coming years, depending on the extent of reforms. The OECD published its findings in the International Migration Outlook, a yearly report.