Immigration is the international movement of people into a destination
country of which they are not natives or where they do not possess
citizenship in order to settle or reside there, especially as
permanent residents or naturalized citizens, or to take up employment
as a migrant worker or temporarily as a foreign worker.
As for economic effects, research suggests that migration is
beneficial both to the receiving and sending countries. Research, with
few exceptions, finds that immigration on average has positive
economic effects on the native population, but is mixed as to whether
low-skilled immigration adversely affects low-skilled natives. Studies
show that the elimination of barriers to migration would have profound
effects on world GDP, with estimates of gains ranging between 67 and
147 percent. Development economists argue that reducing barriers to
labor mobility between developing countries and developed countries
would be one of the most efficient tools of poverty reduction.
The academic literature provides mixed findings for the relationship
between immigration and crime worldwide, but finds for the United
States that immigration either has no impact on the crime rate or that
it reduces the crime rate. Research shows that country of origin
matters for speed and depth of immigrant assimilation, but that there
is considerable assimilation overall for both first- and
2.1 2012 survey
3 Understanding of immigration
4 Economic migrant
5 Laws and ethics
6 Economic effects
6.1 Overall economic prosperity
6.3 Fiscal effects
6.4 Impact of refugees
6.5 Impact of undocumented immigrants
6.6 Impact on the sending countries
6.7 Impact on global poverty
6.8 Innovation and entrepreneurship
7 Quality of institutions
11 Social capital
15.2 The United States
Criminal justice system
15.2.5 Labor market
16 Impact on the sending country
17 See also
19 Further reading
20 External links
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (October
Main article: Early human migrations
Immigration near the border between Mali and Mauritania;
sponsored by EU
Many animals have migrated across evolutionary history (not including
seasonal bird migration), including pre-humans. Human migration
started with the migration out of Africa into the Middle East, and
then to Asia, Australia, Europe, Russia, and the Americas. This is
discussed in the article pre-modern human migration.
Recent history is discussed in the articles history of human migration
and human migration.
When people cross national borders during their migration, they are
called migrants or immigrants (from Latin: migrare, wanderer) from the
perspective of the country which they enter. From the perspective of
the country which they leave, they are called emigrant or
Sociology designates immigration usually as migration
(as well as emigration accordingly outward migration).
The global population of immigrants has grown since 1990 but has
remained constant at around 3% of the world's population.
As of 2015[update], the number of international migrants has reached
244 million worldwide, which reflects a 41% increase since 2000. One
third of the world's international migrants are living in just 20
countries. The largest number of international migrants live in the
United States, with 19% of the world's total.
Germany and Russia host
12 million migrants each, taking the second and third place in
countries with the most migrants worldwide.
Saudi Arabia hosts 10
million migrants, followed by the
United Kingdom (9 million) and the
United Arab Emirates (8 million).
Between 2000 and 2015, Asia added more international migrants than any
other major area in the world, gaining 26 million. Europe added the
second largest with about 20 million. In most parts of the world,
migration occurs between countries that are located within the same
In 2015, the number of international migrants below the age of 20
reached 37 million, while 177 million are between the ages of 20 and
64. International migrants living in Africa were the youngest, with a
median age of 29, followed by Asia (35 years), and Latin
America/Caribbean (36 years), while migrants were older in Northern
America (42 years), Europe (43 years), and Oceania (44 years).
Nearly half (43%) of all international migrants originate in Asia, and
Europe was the birthplace of the second largest number of migrants
(25%), followed by Latin America (15%).
India has the largest diaspora
in the world (16 million people), followed by Mexico (12 million) and
Russia (11 million).
A 2012 survey by Gallup found that given the opportunity, 640 million
adults would migrate to another country, with 23% of these would-be
immigrant choosing the
United States as their desired future
residence, while 7% of respondents, representing 45 million people,
would choose the United Kingdom. The other top desired destination
countries (those where an estimated 69 million or more adults would
like to go) were Canada, France, Saudi Arabia, Australia,
Understanding of immigration
The largest Vietnamese market in Prague, also known as "Little Hanoi".
In 2009, there were about 70,000 Vietnamese in the Czech Republic.
London has become multiethnic as a result of immigration. In London
Black British and
British Asian children outnumbered white
British children by about 3 to 2 in government-run schools.
One theory of immigration distinguishes between push and pull
Push factors refer primarily to the motive for immigration from the
country of origin. In the case of economic migration (usually labor
migration), differentials in wage rates are common. If the value of
wages in the new country surpasses the value of wages in one's native
country, he or she may choose to migrate, as long as the costs are not
too high. Particularly in the 19th century, economic expansion of the
US increased immigrant flow, and nearly 15% of the population was
foreign born, thus making up a significant amount of the labor
As transportation technology improved, travel time and costs decreased
dramatically between the 18th and early 20th century. Travel across
the Atlantic used to take up to 5 weeks in the 18th century, but
around the time of the 20th century it took a mere 8 days. When
the opportunity cost is lower, the immigration rates tend to be
higher. Escape from poverty (personal or for relatives staying
behind) is a traditional push factor, and the availability of jobs is
the related pull factor.
Natural disasters can amplify poverty-driven
migration flows. Research shows that for middle-income countries,
higher temperatures increase emigration rates to urban areas and to
other countries. For low-income countries, higher temperatures reduce
Emigration and immigration are sometimes mandatory in a contract of
employment: religious missionaries and employees of transnational
corporations, international non-governmental organizations, and the
diplomatic service expect, by definition, to work "overseas". They are
often referred to as "expatriates", and their conditions of employment
are typically equal to or better than those applying in the host
country (for similar work).
Non-economic push factors include persecution (religious and
otherwise), frequent abuse, bullying, oppression, ethnic cleansing,
genocide, risks to civilians during war, and social
marginalization. Political motives traditionally motivate
refugee flows; for instance, people may emigrate in order to escape a
Some migration is for personal reasons, based on a relationship (e.g.
to be with family or a partner), such as in family reunification or
transnational marriage (especially in the instance of a gender
imbalance). Recent research has found gender, age, and cross-cultural
differences in the ownership of the idea to immigrate. In a few
cases, an individual may wish to immigrate to a new country in a form
of transferred patriotism. Evasion of criminal justice (e.g., avoiding
arrest) is a personal motivation. This type of emigration and
immigration is not normally legal, if a crime is internationally
recognized, although criminals may disguise their identities or find
other loopholes to evade detection. For example, there have been
reports of war criminals disguising themselves as victims of war or
conflict and then pursuing asylum in a different country.
Barriers to immigration come not only in legal form or political form;
natural and social barriers to immigration can also be very powerful.
Immigrants when leaving their country also leave everything familiar:
their family, friends, support network, and culture. They also need to
liquidate their assets, and they incur the expense of moving. When
they arrive in a new country, this is often with many uncertainties
including finding work, where to live, new laws, new cultural
norms, language or accent issues, possible racism, and other
exclusionary behavior towards them and their family.
Iron Curtain in Europe was designed as a means of preventing
emigration. "It is one of the ironies of post-war European history
that, once the freedom to travel for Europeans living under communist
regimes, which had long been demanded by the West, was finally granted
in 1989/90, travel was very soon afterwards made much more difficult
by the West itself, and new barriers were erected to replace the Iron
Curtain." —Anita Böcker
The politics of immigration have become increasingly associated with
other issues, such as national security and terrorism, especially in
western Europe, with the presence of
Islam as a new major religion.
Those with security concerns cite the
2005 French riots
2005 French riots and point to
Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy
Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy as examples of the
value conflicts arising from immigration of Muslims in Western Europe.
Because of all these associations, immigration has become an emotional
political issue in many European nations.
Studies have suggested that some special interest groups lobby for
less immigration for their own group and more immigration for other
groups since they see effects of immigration, such as increased labor
competition, as detrimental when affecting their own group but
beneficial when impacting other groups. A 2010 European study
suggested that "employers are more likely to be pro-immigration than
employees, provided that immigrants are thought to compete with
employees who are already in the country. Or else, when immigrants are
thought to compete with employers rather than employees, employers are
more likely to be anti-immigration than employees." A 2011 study
examining the voting of US representatives on migration policy
suggests that "representatives from more skilled labor abundant
districts are more likely to support an open immigration policy
towards the unskilled, whereas the opposite is true for
representatives from more unskilled labor abundant districts."
Another contributing factor may be lobbying by earlier immigrants. The
Chairman for the US Irish Lobby for
Immigration Reform—which lobby
for more permissive rules for immigrants, as well as special
arrangements just for Irish people—has stated that "the Irish Lobby
will push for any special arrangement it can get—'as will every
other ethnic group in the country.'"
Immigrants are motivated to leave their former countries of
citizenship, or habitual residence, for a variety of reasons,
including a lack of local access to resources, a desire for economic
prosperity, to find or engage in paid work, to better their standard
of living, family reunification, retirement, climate or
environmentally induced migration, exile, escape from prejudice,
conflict or natural disaster, or simply the wish to change one's
quality of life. Commuters, tourists and other short-term stays in a
destination country do not fall under the definition of immigration or
migration, seasonal labour immigration is sometimes included.
Further information: Economic migrant
The Indo-Bangladeshi barrier in 2007.
India is building a separation
barrier along the 4,000 kilometer border with Bangladesh to prevent
The term economic migrant refers to someone who has travelled from one
region to another region for the purposes of seeking employment and an
improvement in quality of life and access to resources. An economic
migrant is distinct from someone who is a refugee fleeing persecution.
Many countries have immigration and visa restrictions that prohibit a
person entering the country for the purposes of gaining work without a
valid work visa. As a violation of a State's immigration laws a person
who is declared to be an economic migrant can be refused entry into a
World Bank estimates that remittances totaled $420 billion in
2009, of which $317 billion went to developing countries.
Laws and ethics
UNHCR tents at a refugee camp following episodes of anti-immigrant
violence in South Africa, 2008
Entry (top) and Exit (above) passport stamps issued to a citizen of
Germany by Indian immigration authorities at New Delhi airport.
Treatment of migrants in host countries, both by governments,
employers, and original population, is a topic of continual debate and
criticism, and the violation of migrant human rights is an ongoing
crisis. The United Nations Convention on the Protection of the
Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, has been
ratified by 48 states, most of which are heavy exporters of cheap
labor. Major migrant-receiving countries and regions – including
Western Europe, North America, Pacific Asia, Australia, and the Gulf
States – have not ratified the Convention, even though they are host
to the majority of international migrant workers. Although
freedom of movement is often recognized as a civil right in many
documents such as the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), the
freedom only applies to movement within national borders and the
ability to return to one's home state.
Some proponents of immigration argue that the freedom of movement both
within and between countries is a basic human right, and that the
restrictive immigration policies, typical of nation-states, violate
this human right of freedom of movement. Such arguments are common
among anti-state ideologies like anarchism and libertarianism. As
philosopher and Open borders activist Jacob Appel has written,
"Treating human beings differently, simply because they were born on
the opposite side of a national boundary, is hard to justify under any
mainstream philosophical, religious or ethical theory."
Where immigration is permitted, it is typically selective. As of
2003[update], family reunification accounted for approximately
two-thirds of legal immigration to the US every year. Ethnic
selection, such as the White
Australia policy, has generally
disappeared, but priority is usually given to the educated, skilled,
and wealthy. Less privileged individuals, including the mass of poor
people in low-income countries, cannot avail themselves of the legal
and protected immigration opportunities offered by wealthy states.
This inequality has also been criticized as conflicting with the
principle of equal opportunities. The fact that the door is closed for
the unskilled, while at the same time many developed countries have a
huge demand for unskilled labor, is a major factor in illegal
immigration. The contradictory nature of this policy—which
specifically disadvantages the unskilled immigrants while exploiting
their labor—has also been criticized on ethical grounds.[citation
Immigration policies which selectively grant freedom of movement to
targeted individuals are intended to produce a net economic gain for
the host country. They can also mean net loss for a poor donor country
through the loss of the educated minority—a "brain drain". This can
exacerbate the global inequality in standards of living that provided
the motivation for the individual to migrate in the first place. One
example of competition for skilled labour is active recruitment of
health workers from developing countries by developed
countries. There may however also be a "brain gain" to
emigration, as migration opportunities lead to greater investments in
education in developing countries. Overall, research
suggests that migration is beneficial both to the receiving and
A survey of leading economists shows a consensus behind the view that
high-skilled immigration makes the average American better off. A
survey of the same economists also shows strong support behind the
notion that low-skilled immigration makes the average American better
off. A survey of European economists shows a consensus that freer
movement of people to live and work across borders within Europe makes
the average European better off, and strong support behind the notion
that it has not made low-skilled Europeans worse off. According to
David Card, Christian Dustmann, and Ian Preston, "most existing
studies of the economic impacts of immigration suggest these impacts
are small, and on average benefit the native population". In a
survey of the existing literature, Örn B Bodvarsson and Hendrik Van
den Berg write, "a comparison of the evidence from all the studies...
makes it clear that, with very few exceptions, there is no strong
statistical support for the view held by many members of the public,
mainly that immigration has an adverse effect on native-born workers
in the destination country."
Overall economic prosperity
Whereas the impact on the average native tends to be small and
positive, studies show more mixed results for low-skilled natives, but
whether the effects are positive or negative, they tend to be small
Immigrants may often do types of work that natives are largely
unwilling to do, contributing to greater economic prosperity for the
economy as a whole: for instance, Mexican migrant workers taking up
manual farm work in the
United States has close to zero effect on
native employment in that occupation, which means that the effect of
Mexican workers on U.S. employment outside farm work was therefore
most likely positive, since they raised overall economic
productivity. Research indicates that immigrants are more likely
to work in risky jobs than U.S.-born workers, partly due to
differences in average characteristics, such as immigrants' lower
English language ability and educational attainment. According to
a 2017 survey of the existing economic literature, studies on
high-skilled migrants "rarely find adverse wage and employment
consequences, and longer time horizons tend to show greater
Competition from immigrants in a particular sector may adversely
affect wages for natives in that sector but increase wages for natives
outside of the sector; for instance, a 2017 study in Science found
that "the influx of foreign-born computer scientists since the early
1990s... increased the size of the US IT sector... benefited consumers
via lower prices and more efficient products... raised overall worker
incomes by 0.2 to 0.3% but decreased wages of U.S. computer scientists
by 2.6 to 5.1%."
Research also suggests that diversity and immigration have a net
positive effect on productivity and economic
Immigration has also been
associated with reductions in offshoring. A study by Harvard
economist Nathan Nunn, Yale economist Nancy Qian and LSE economist
Sandra Sequeira found that the Age of Mass Migration (1850–1920)
contributed to "higher incomes, higher productivity, more innovation,
and more industrialization" in the short-run and "higher incomes, less
poverty, less unemployment, higher rates of urbanization, and greater
educational attainment" in the long-run for the United States.
Studies show that the elimination of barriers to migration would have
profound effects on world GDP, with estimates of gains ranging between
67–147.3%. Research also finds that migration leads to
greater trade in goods and services, and increases
in financial flows between the sending and receiving countries.
Using 130 years of data on historical migrations to the United States,
one study finds "that a doubling of the number of residents with
ancestry from a given foreign country relative to the mean increases
by 4.2 percentage points the probability that at least one local firm
invests in that country, and increases by 31% the number of employees
at domestic recipients of FDI from that country. The size of these
effects increases with the ethnic diversity of the local population,
the geographic distance to the origin country, and the
ethno-linguistic fractionalization of the origin country." A 2017
study found that "immigrants' genetic diversity is significantly
positively correlated with measures of U.S. counties' economic
development [during the Age of Mass Migration]. There exists also a
significant positive relationship between immigrants' genetic
diversity in 1870 and contemporaneous measures of U.S. counties'
Some research suggests that immigration can offset some of the adverse
effects of automation on native labor outcomes. By
increasing overall demand, immigrants could push natives out of
low-skilled manual labor into better paying occupations.
Overall immigration has not had much effect on native wage
inequality but low-skill immigration has been linked to
greater income inequality in the native population.
A 2011 literature review of the economic impacts of immigration found
that the net fiscal impact of migrants varies across studies but that
the most credible analyses typically find small and positive fiscal
effects on average. According to the authors, "the net social
impact of an immigrant over his or her lifetime depends substantially
and in predictable ways on the immigrant's age at arrival, education,
reason for migration, and similar". According to a 2007 literature
review by the Congressional Budget Office, "Over the past two decades,
most efforts to estimate the fiscal impact of immigration in the
United States have concluded that, in aggregate and over the long
term, tax revenues of all types generated by immigrants—both legal
and unauthorized—exceed the cost of the services they use."
Research has shown that EU immigrants made a net positive fiscal
contribution to Denmark and the United Kingdom.
A 2017 study found that when Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants to the
United Kingdom gained permission to acquire welfare benefits in 2014
that it had no discernible impact on the immigrants' use of welfare
Impact of refugees
A 2017 survey of leading economists found that 34% of economists
agreed with the statement "The influx of refugees into Germany
beginning in the summer of 2015 will generate net economic benefits
for German citizens over the succeeding decade", whereas 38% were
uncertain and 6% disagreed. Studies of refugees' impact on native
welfare are scant but the existing literature shows mixed results
(negative, positive and no significant effects on native
According to economist Michael Clemens, "when economists have studied
past influxes of refugees and migrants they have found the labor
market effects, while varied, are very limited, and can in fact be
positive." A 2018 study in the Economic Journal found that
Vietnamese refugees to the
United States had a positive impact on
American exports, as exports to Vietnam grew most in US states with
larger Vietnamese populations.
A 2017 paper by Evans and Fitzgerald found that refugees to the United
States pay "$21,000 more in taxes than they receive in benefits over
their first 20 years in the U.S." An internal study by the
Department of Health and Human Services under the Trump
administration, which was suppressed and not shown to the public,
found that refugees to the
United States brought in $63 billion more
in government revenues than they cost the government. According
to University of California, Davis, labor economist Giovanni Peri, the
existing literature suggests that there are no economic reasons why
the American labor market could not easily absorb 100,000 Syrian
refugees in a year. A 2017 paper looking at the long-term impact
of refugees on the American labor market over the period 1980–2010
found "that there is no adverse long-run impact of refugees on the
U.S. labor market."
Refugees integrate more slowly into host countries' labor markets than
labor migrants, in part due to the loss and depreciation of human
capital and credentials during the asylum procedure. Refugees
tend to do worse in economic terms than natives, even when they have
the same skills and language proficiencies of natives. For instance, a
2013 study of Germans in West-
Germany who had been displaced from
Eastern Europe during and after World
War II showed that the forced
German migrants did far worse economically than their native
West-German counterparts decades later. Second-generation forced
German migrants also did worse in economic terms than their native
counterparts. A study of refugees to the
United States found that
"refugees that enter the U.S. before age 14 graduate high school and
enter college at the same rate as natives. Refugees that enter as
older teenagers have lower attainment with much of the difference
attributable to language barriers and because many in this group are
not accompanied by a parent to the U.S." Refugees that entered
the U.S. at ages 18–45, have "much lower levels of education and
poorer language skills than natives and outcomes are initially poor
with low employment, high welfare use and low earnings." But the
authors of the study find that "outcomes improve considerably as
A 2017 study found that the 0.5 million Portuguese who returned to
Portugal from Mozambique and Angola in the mid-1970s lowered labor
productivity and wages.
Impact of undocumented immigrants
Research on the economic effects of undocumented immigrants is scant
but existing studies suggests that the effects are positive for the
native population, and public coffers. A 2015 study
shows that "increasing deportation rates and tightening border control
weakens low-skilled labor markets, increasing unemployment of native
low-skilled workers. Legalization, instead, decreases the unemployment
rate of low-skilled natives and increases income per native."
Studies show that legalization of undocumented immigrants would boost
the U.S. economy; a 2013 study found that granting legal status to
undocumented immigrants would raise their incomes by a quarter
(increasing U.S. GDP by approximately $1.4 trillion over a ten-year
period), and a 2016 study found that "legalization would increase
the economic contribution of the unauthorized population by about 20%,
to 3.6% of private-sector GDP." A 2017 study in the Journal of
Public Economics found that more intense immigration enforcement
increased the likelihood that US-born children with undocumented
immigrant parents would live in poverty.
Impact on the sending countries
Research suggests that migration is beneficial both to the receiving
and sending countries. According to one study, welfare
increases in both types of countries: "welfare impact of observed
levels of migration is substantial, at about 5% to 10% for the main
receiving countries and about 10% in countries with large incoming
remittances". According to Branko Milanović, country of residency
is by far the most important determinant of global income inequality,
which suggests that the reduction in labor barriers would
significantly reduce global income inequality. A study of
equivalent workers in the
United States and 42 developing countries
found that "median wage gap for a male, unskilled (9 years of
schooling), 35 year-old, urban formal sector worker born and educated
in a developing country is P$15,400 per year at purchasing power
parity". A 2014 survey of the existing literature on emigration
finds that a 10 percent emigrant supply shock would increase wages in
the sending country by 2–5.5%.
Impact on global poverty
According to economists
Michael Clemens and Lant Pratchett,
"permitting people to move from low-productivity places to
high-productivity places appears to be by far the most efficient
generalized policy tool, at the margin, for poverty reduction". A
successful two-year in situ anti-poverty program, for instance, helps
poor people make in a year what is the equivalent of working one day
in the developed world. A slight reduction in the barriers to
labor mobility between the developing and developed world would do
more to reduce poverty in the developing world than any remaining
Research on a migration lottery allowing Tongans to move to New
Zealand found that the lottery winners saw a 263% increase in income
from migrating (after only one year in New Zealand) relative to the
unsuccessful lottery entrants. A longer-term study on the Tongan
lottery winners finds that they "continue to earn almost 300 percent
more than non-migrants, have better mental health, live in households
with more than 250 percent higher expenditure, own more vehicles, and
have more durable assets". A conservative estimate of their
lifetime gain to migration is NZ$315,000 in net present value terms
A 2017 study of Mexican immigrant households in the United States
found that by virtue of moving to the United States, the households
increase their incomes more than fivefold immediately. The study
also found that the "average gains accruing to migrants surpass those
of even the most successful current programs of economic
A 2017 study of European migrant workers in the UK shows that upon
accession to the EU, the migrant workers see a substantial positive
impact on their earnings. The data indicate that acquiring EU status
raises earnings for the workers by giving them the right to freely
A 2017 study in the
Quarterly Journal of Economics found that
immigrants from middle- and low-income countries to the United States
increased their wages by a factor of two to three upon migration.
Innovation and entrepreneurship
A 2017 survey of the existing economic literature found that
"high-skilled migrants boost innovation and productivity
outcomes." According to a 2013 survey of the existing economic
literature, "much of the existing research points towards positive net
contributions by immigrant entrepreneurs." Areas where immigrant
are more prevalent in the
United States have substantially more
innovation (as measured by patenting and citations). Immigrants
United States create businesses at higher rates than
natives. A 2010 study showed "that a 1 percentage point increase
in immigrant college graduates' population share increases patents per
capita by 9–18 percent." Mass migration can also boost
innovation and growth, as shown by the Huguenot Diaspora in
Prussia, German Jewish Émigrés in the US, the Mariel
boatlift, the exodus of Soviet Jews to Israel in the 1990s,
European migration to Argentina during the Age of Mass Migration
(1850–1914), and west-east migration in the wake of German
reunification. A 2018 study in the Economic Journal found that
"that a 10% increase in immigration from exporters of a given product
is associated with a 2% increase in the likelihood that the host
country starts exporting that good ‘from scratch’ in the next
Immigrants have been linked to greater invention and innovation in the
US. According to one report, "immigrants have started more than
half (44 of 87) of America's startup companies valued at $1 billion
dollars or more and are key members of management or product
development teams in over 70 percent (62 of 87) of these
companies." Research also shows that labor migration increases
human capital.ref>Shrestha, Slesh A. (2016-04-01). "No Man Left
Behind: Effects of
Emigration Prospects on Educational and Labour
Outcomes of Non-migrants". The Economic Journal. 127 (600): n/a.
ISSN 1468-0297. </ref> Foreign doctoral
students are a major source of innovation in the American
economy. In the United States, immigrant workers hold a
disproportionate share of jobs in science, technology, engineering,
and math (STEM): "In 2013, foreign-born workers accounted for 19.2
percent of STEM workers with a bachelor's degree, 40.7 percent of
those with a master's degree, and more than half—54.5 percent—of
those with a Ph.D."
Quality of institutions
A 2015 study finds "some evidence that larger immigrant population
shares (or inflows) yield positive impacts on institutional quality.
At a minimum, our results indicate that no negative impact on economic
freedom is associated with more immigration." Another study,
looking at the increase in Israel's population in the 1990s due to the
unrestricted immigration of Jews from the Soviet Union, finds that the
mass immigration did not undermine political institutions, and
substantially increased the quality of economic institutions. A
2017 study in the
British Journal of Political Science argued that the
British American colonies without slavery adopted better democratic
institutions in order to attract migrant workers to their
colonies. A 2018 study fails to evidence that immigration to
United States weakens economic freedom.
Some research has found that as immigration and ethnic heterogeneity
increase, government funding of welfare and public support for welfare
Ethnic nepotism may be an explanation
for this phenomenon. Other possible explanations include theories
regarding in-group and out-group effects and reciprocal altruism.
Research however also challenges the notion that ethnic heterogeneity
reduces public goods provision. Studies that find a negative
relationship between ethnic diversity and public goods provision often
fail to take into account that strong states were better at
assimilating minorities, thus decreasing diversity in the long
run. Ethnically diverse states today consequently tend to be
weaker states. Because most of the evidence on fractionalization
comes from sub-Saharan Africa and the United States, the
generalizability of the findings is questionable.
Research finds that Americans' attitudes towards immigration influence
their attitudes towards welfare spending.
A 2016 study found that immigration in the period 1940–2010 in the
United States increased the high school completion of natives: "An
increase of one percentage point in the share of immigrants in the
population aged 11–64 increases the probability that natives aged
11–17 eventually complete 12 years of schooling by 0.3 percentage
Studies have found that non-native speakers of English in the UK have
no causal impact on the performance of other pupils, immigrant
children have no significant impact on the test scores of Dutch
children, no effect on grade repetition among native students
exposed to migrant students in Austrian schools, that the
presence of Latin American children in schools had no significant
negative effects on peers, but that students with limited English
skills had slight negative effects on peers, and that the influx
of Haitians to Florida public schools after the 2010 Haiti earthquake
had no effects on the educational outcomes of incumbent students.
Libraries take on a very important role in the education of immigrant
A 2015 report by the National Institute of Demographic Studies finds
that an overwhelming majority of second-generation immigrants of all
France feel French, despite the persistent discrimination
in education, housing and employment that many of the minorities
A 2016 paper challenges the view that cultural differences are
necessarily an obstacle to long-run economic performance of migrants.
It finds that "first generation migrants seem to be less likely to
success the more culturally distant they are, but this effect vanishes
as time spent in the USA increases."
Research shows that country of origin matters for speed and depth of
immigrant assimilation but that there is considerable assimilation
overall. Research finds that first generation immigrants from
countries with less egalitarian gender cultures adopt gender values
more similar to natives over time. According to one study,
"this acculturation process is almost completed within one
generational succession: The gender attitudes of second generation
immigrants are difficult to distinguish from the attitudes of members
of mainstream society. This holds also for children born to immigrants
from very gender traditional cultures and for children born to less
well integrated immigrant families." Similar results are found on
a study of Turkish migrants to Western Europe. The assimilation
on gender attitudes has been observed in education, as one study finds
"that the female advantage in education observed among the majority
population is usually present among second-generation
A 2017 study found that naturalization strongly improves long-term
social integration of immigrants: "The integration returns to
naturalization are larger for more marginalized immigrant groups and
when naturalization occurs earlier, rather than later in the residency
First-generation immigrants tend to hold less accepting views of
homosexual lifestyles but opposition weakens with longer stays.
Second-generation immigrants are overall more accepting of homosexual
lifestyles, but the acculturation effect is weaker for Muslims and to
some extent, Eastern Orthodox migrants.
A study of Bangladeshi migrants in East
London found they shifted
towards the thinking styles of the wider non-migrant population in
just a single generation.
A study on
Germany found that foreign-born parents are more likely to
integrate if their children are entitled to German citizenship at
birth. A 2017 study found that "faster access to citizenship
improves the economic situation of immigrant women, especially their
labour market attachment with higher employment rates, longer working
hours and more stable jobs. Immigrants also invest more in host
country-specific skills like language and vocational training. Faster
access to citizenship seems a powerful policy instrument to boost
economic integration in countries with traditionally restrictive
Naturalization is associated with large
and persistent wage gains for the naturalized citizens in most
countries. One study of Denmark found that providing immigrants
with voting rights reduced their crime rate.
Measuring assimilation can be difficult due to "ethnic attrition",
which refers to when ancestors of migrants cease to self-identify with
the nationality or ethnicity of their ancestors. This means that
successful cases of assimilation will be underestimated. Research
shows that ethnic attrition is sizable in Hispanic and Asian immigrant
groups in the United States. By taking account of ethnic
attrition, the assimilation rate of Hispanics in the United States
Studies on programs that randomly allocate refugee immigrants across
municipalities find that the assignment of neighborhood impacts
immigrant crime propensity, education and
Research suggests that bilingual schooling reduces barriers between
speakers from two different communities.
Research suggests that a vicious cycle of bigotry and isolation could
reduce assimilation and increase bigotry towards immigrants in the
long-term. For instance, University of California, San Diego political
scientist Claire Adida, Stanford University political scientist David
Laitin and Sorbonne University economist Marie-Anne Valfort argue
"fear-based policies that target groups of people according to their
religion or region of origin are counter-productive. Our own research,
which explains the failed integration of Muslim immigrants in France,
suggests that such policies can feed into a vicious cycle that damages
national security. French Islamophobia—a response to cultural
difference—has encouraged Muslim immigrants to withdraw from French
society, which then feeds back into French Islamophobia, thus further
exacerbating Muslims’ alienation, and so on. Indeed, the failure of
French security in 2015 was likely due to police tactics that
intimidated rather than welcomed the children of immigrants—an
approach that makes it hard to obtain crucial information from
community members about potential threats."
A study which examined
Catalan nationalism examined the Catalan
Government's policy towards the integration of immigrants during the
start of the 1990's. At this time the Spanish region of Catalonia was
experiencing a large influx in the number of immigrants from Northern
Africa , Latin America and Asia.The Spanish government paid little
attention to this influx of immigrants. However, Catalan politicians
began discussing how the increase in immigrants would effect Catalan
identity. Members of the Catalan parliament petitioned for a plan to
integrate these immigrants into Catalan society. Crucially , the plan
did not include policies regarding naturalisation , which were key
immigration policies of the Spanish government.The plan of the Catalan
parliament aimed to create a shared Catalan identity which included
both the native Catalan population and immigrant communities. This
meant that immigrants were encouraged to relate as part of the Catalan
community but also encouraged to retain their own culture and
traditions.In this way assimilation of immigrant cultures in Catalonia
A 2018 study in the
British Journal of Political Science found that
immigrants in Norway became more politically engaged the earlier that
they were given voting rights.
There is some research that suggests that immigration adversely
affects social capital. One study, for instance, found that
"larger increases in US states' Mexican population shares correspond
to larger decreases in social capital over the period"
1986–2004. A 2017 study in the Journal of Comparative Economics
found that "individuals whose ancestors migrated from countries with
higher autocracy levels are less likely to trust others and to vote in
presidential elections in the U.S. The impact of autocratic culture on
trust can last for at least three generations while the impact on
voting disappears after one generation. These impacts on trust and
voting are also significant across Europe."
Research suggests that immigration has positive effects on native
workers' health. As immigration rises, native workers are pushed
into less demanding jobs, which improves native workers' health
A 2014 study of the
United Kingdom found that immigration generally
reduced house prices, because natives at the top of the wage
distribution respond to immigration by moving to other areas, reducing
demand for housing.
Immigration and crime
Much of the empirical research on the causal relationship between
immigration and crime has been limited due to weak instruments for
determining causality. According to one economist writing in
2014, "while there have been many papers that document various
correlations between immigrants and crime for a range of countries and
time periods, most do not seriously address the issue of
causality." The problem with causality primarily revolves around
the location of immigrants being endogenous, which means that
immigrants tend to disproportionally locate in deprived areas where
crime is higher (because they cannot afford to stay in more expensive
areas) or because they tend to locate in areas where there is a large
population of residents of the same ethnic background. A
burgeoning literature relying on strong instruments provides mixed
findings. As one economist
describes the existing literature in 2014, "most research for the US
indicates that if any, this association is negative... while the
results for Europe are mixed for property crime but no association is
found for violent crime". Another economist writing in 2014,
describes how "the evidence, based on empirical studies of many
countries, indicates that there is no simple link between immigration
and crime, but legalizing the status of immigrants has beneficial
effects on crime rates."
The relationship between crime and the legal status of immigrants
remains understudied but studies on amnesty programs in the
United States and Italy suggest that legal status can largely explain
the differences in crime between legal and illegal immigrants, most
likely because legal status leads to greater job market opportunities
for the immigrants. However, one study finds
Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 led to an
increase in crime among previously undocumented immigrants.
Research suggests that police practices, such as racial profiling,
over-policing in areas populated by minorities and in-group bias may
result in disproportionately high numbers of racial minorities among
crime suspects in Sweden, Italy, and England and
Wales. Research also suggests that there may
be possible discrimination by the judicial system, which contributes
to a higher number of convictions for racial minorities in Sweden, the
Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Denmark and
Several meta-analyses find extensive evidence of ethnic and racial
discrimination in hiring in the North-American and European labor
markets. A 2016 meta-analysis of 738 correspondence
tests in 43 separate studies conducted in OECD countries between 1990
and 2015 finds that there is extensive racial discrimination in hiring
decisions in Europe and North-America. Equivalent minority
candidates need to send around 50% more applications to be invited for
an interview than majority candidates.
A 2014 meta-analysis found extensive evidence of racial and ethnic
discrimination in the housing market of several European
The United States
A 2014 meta-analysis of racial discrimination in product markets found
extensive evidence of minority applicants being quoted higher prices
for products. A 1995 study found that car dealers "quoted
significantly lower prices to white males than to black or female test
buyers using identical, scripted bargaining strategies." A 2013
study found that eBay sellers of iPods received 21 percent more offers
if a white hand held the iPod in the photo than a black hand.
Criminal justice system
Research suggests that police practices, such as racial profiling,
over-policing in areas populated by minorities and in-group bias may
result in disproportionately high numbers of racial minorities among
crime suspects. Research also suggests that there
may be possible discrimination by the judicial system, which
contributes to a higher number of convictions for racial
minorities. A 2012 study found that "(i)
juries formed from all-white jury pools convict black defendants
significantly (16 percentage points) more often than white defendants,
and (ii) this gap in conviction rates is entirely eliminated when the
jury pool includes at least one black member." Research has found
evidence of in-group bias, where "black (white) juveniles who are
randomly assigned to black (white) judges are more likely to get
incarcerated (as opposed to being placed on probation), and they
receive longer sentences."
In-group bias has also been observed
when it comes to traffic citations, as black and white cops are more
likely to cite out-groups.
A 2015 study using correspondence tests "found that when considering
requests from prospective students seeking mentoring in the future,
faculty were significantly more responsive to White males than to all
other categories of students, collectively, particularly in
higher-paying disciplines and private institutions." Through
affirmative action, there is reason to believe that elite colleges
favor minority applicants.
A 2014 meta-analysis found extensive evidence of racial discrimination
in the American housing market. Minority applicants for housing
needed to make many more enquiries to view properties.
Geographical steering of African-Americans in US housing remained
significant. A 2003 study finds "evidence that agents interpret
an initial housing request as an indication of a customer's
preferences, but also are more likely to withhold a house from all
customers when it is in an integrated suburban neighborhood
(redlining). Moreover, agents' marketing efforts increase with asking
price for white, but not for black, customers; blacks are more likely
than whites to see houses in suburban, integrated areas (steering);
and the houses agents show are more likely to deviate from the initial
request when the customer is black than when the customer is white.
These three findings are consistent with the possibility that agents
act upon the belief that some types of transactions are relatively
unlikely for black customers (statistical discrimination)."
A report by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development
where the department sent African-Americans and whites to look at
apartments found that African-Americans were shown fewer apartments to
rent and houses for sale.
Several meta-analyses find extensive evidence of ethnic and racial
discrimination in hiring in the American labor market.
A 2016 meta-analysis of 738 correspondence tests – tests where
identical CVs for stereotypically black and white names were sent to
employers – in 43 separate studies conducted in OECD countries
between 1990 and 2015 finds that there is extensive racial
discrimination in hiring decisions in Europe and North-America.
These correspondence tests showed that equivalent minority candidates
need to send around 50% more applications to be invited for an
interview than majority candidates. A study that examine the
job applications of actual people provided with identical résumés
and similar interview training showed that African-American applicants
with no criminal record were offered jobs at a rate as low as white
applicants who had criminal records.
Impact on the sending country
Remittances increase living standards in the country of origin.
Remittances are a large share of the GDP of many developing
countries. A study on remittances to Mexico found that
remittances lead to a substantial increase in the availability of
public services in Mexico, surpassing government spending in some
Research finds that emigration and low migration barriers has net
positive effects on human capital formation in the sending
countries. This means that there is a "brain gain"
instead of a "brain drain" to emigration.
One study finds that sending countries benefit indirectly in the
long-run on the emigration of skilled workers because those skilled
workers are able to innovate more in developed countries, which the
sending countries are able to benefit on as a positive externality.
Greater emigration of skilled workers consequently leads to greater
economic growth and welfare improvements in the long-run. The
negative effects of high-skill emigration remain largely unfounded.
According to economist Michael Clemens, it has not been shown that
restrictions on high-skill emigration reduce shortages in the
countries of origin.
Research also suggests that emigration, remittances and return
migration can have a positive impact on political institutions and
democratization in the country of
origin. Research also shows
that remittances can lower the risk of civil war in the country of
origin. Return migration from countries with liberal gender norms
has been associated with the transfer of liberal gender norms to the
Research suggests that emigration causes an increase in the wages of
those who remain in the country of origin. A 2014 survey of the
existing literature on emigration finds that a 10 percent emigrant
supply shock would increase wages in the sending country by
2–5.5%. A study of emigration from Poland shows that it led to
a slight increase in wages for high- and medium-skilled workers for
remaining Poles. A 2013 study finds that emigration from Eastern
Europe after the 2004 EU enlargement increased the wages of remaining
young workers in the country of origin by 6%, while it had no effect
on the wages of old workers. The wages of Lithuanian men
increased as a result of post-EU enlargement emigration. Return
migration is associated with greater household firm revenues.
Some research shows that the remittance effect is not strong enough to
make the remaining natives in countries with high emigration flows
It has been argued that high-skill emigration causes labor shortages
in the country of origin. This remains unsupported in the academic
literature though. According to economist Michael Clemens, it has not
been shown that restrictions on high-skill emigration reduce shortages
in the countries of origin.
Childhood and migration
Criticism of multiculturalism
Feminization of migration
White genocide conspiracy theory
Immigration and crime
Opposition to immigration
Right of foreigners to vote
First world privilege
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List of sovereign states and dependent territories by population
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Look up immigration in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Wikiquote has quotations related to: Immigration
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Immigration.
Wikisource has the text of an 1879
American Cyclopædia article about
Immigration to Africa
Cape Verde (Cabo Verde)
Central African Republic
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Republic of the Congo
Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire)
São Tomé and Príncipe
States with limited
Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic
Canary Islands / Ceuta / Melilla (Spain)
Mayotte / Réunion (France)
Saint Helena / Ascension Island / Tristan da
Cunha (United Kingdom)
Immigration to South America
South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
Immigration to North America
Antigua and Barbuda
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago
British Virgin Islands
Saint Pierre and Miquelon
Turks and Caicos Islands
United States Virgin Islands
Immigration to Asia
East Timor (Timor-Leste)
United Arab Emirates
British Indian Ocean Territory
Cocos (Keeling) Islands
Immigration to Oceania
Federated States of Micronesia
Papua New Guinea
of New Zealand
and other territories
Cocos (Keeling) Islands
Northern Mariana Islands
Wallis and Futuna
Immigration to Europe
Bosnia and Herzegovina
States with limited
Isle of Man