While the influx of asylum seekers from the Middle East into the European Union has been hugely controversial in some nations, and is fueling a lot of tensions, the European Commission’s reports suggest that they could be an economic boon for the continent if properly integrated into the workforce of those nations.
The Commission’s simulations are based on the assumption of 3 million refugees arriving between 2015 and 2017, a million this year, 1.5 million next, and 0.5 the following year. If half of the population are granted asylum, the EU’s labor force would increase 0.3 percent in each of the next two years.
There are several different estimates of the full scope of growth based different ranges of skills from the refugees, as at present it is hard to tell how many of them have advanced degrees or other valuable work experience. Germany, one of the nations absorbing the most, is expected to see 0.43 percent GDP growth next year from them, with that number growing annually all the way to 0.72 percent by 2020.
That’s non-trivial, as Germany’s flagging birth rate was expected to see the economy contract in that period, and the influx of new workers could well stall this. The cost of absorbing the refugees, by contrast, will steadily decrease over the next few years, as they are moved from refugee camps into the workforce in their destination countries.
Historically, Europe has lost population from migration, with the Western Hemisphere populated largely with refugees from one European crisis or another over the past few centuries. Their recent stability, however, and their close proximity to the Middle East, now makes them an inviting beneficiary of such a population influx.