Press release "Immigration Policy: Why states should look out, and not in"
Published on Aug. 8, 2014
A new study published by the Central European Labour Studies Institute (CELSI) suggests that the policies of foreign governments may overshadow domestic policies in determining levels of immigration, and that policymakers should consider carefully the choice of destinations available to potential immigrants.
The study, based on migration within the EU, found that the number of migrants a given country receives may be more affected by the combined policies of all other countries in the region than by its own.
The governments who chose not to impose work restrictions (which the EU permitted for up to seven years) on migrants from the countries that joined in 2004 and 2007 received the highest numbers of migrants during the years immediately after the EU's expansion. However, the rate of immigration to those countries dropped significantly when labour market restrictions were lifted in other countries.
Immigration appears to rise in a given country when other countries' restrictions are tightened, and appears to fall in that country when other countries' restrictions are loosened. This effect was found to be far stronger than that of independently tightening or loosening domestic restrictions.
Specifically, an increase in the employment rights index in a destination country was shown to be associated with an increase in the immigration rate, but an increase in the average employment rights index of the same size in alternative destination countries had more than two time stronger negative effects on immigration to this destination.
For example, an increase in the employment rights index comparable to German labor market liberalization in 2011 for the 2004 entrants or 2014 liberalization for the 2007 entrants was shown to be associated with about 15% increase in the immigration rate to the receiving country. However, a similar increase in weighted mean of the employment rights index in other destination countries was shown to be associated with more than 30% decrease in the immigration rate to that country.
Martin Kahanec, Scientific Director at CELSI, said: “This study adds an invaluable insight to the European debate on migration. Migrants make rational choices based on a variety of factors and states operate in a global market. The findings of this study may prompt policy makers to look outside their own borders when designing migration policies, or when estimating future migration flows”.
“Labour Market Laws and Intra-European Migration: The Role of the State in Shaping Destination Choices” by John Palmer and Mariola Pytlikova. Available at http://www.celsi.sk/en/publications/discussion-papers/detail/21/labor-market-laws-and-intra-european-migration-the-role-of-the-state-in-shaping-destination-choices/