Immigration pressures on Europe vs U.S.

Europe is under much greater immigration pressure from Africa than is the U.S. from Latin America. The pressure will increase:

The European immigration context today looks much like the United States did three decades ago. In Europe, which long ago made its demographic transition to low birth rates, declines in fertility in the 1970s and 1980s set the stage for a situation in which the number of working-age residents is in absolute decline.

Countries in the North Africa and Middle East region, in contrast, have had continued high fertility, creating bulging populations of young people looking for gainful employment in labor markets plagued by low wages and the scarcity of steady work. Further to the south, population growth rates in sub-Saharan Africa, a region with still lower relative earnings, remain among the highest in the world…

As an example, we predict the number of African-born first-generation migrants aged 15 to 64 outside of sub-Saharan Africa to grow from 4.6 million to 13.4 million between 2010 and 2050. During this same period, the number of working-age adults born in the region will expand from under half a billion to more than 1.3 billion, meaning that international migration would only absorb 1 percent of the overall population growth. … The coming half century will see absolute population growth in sub-Saharan Africa five times as large as Latin America’s growth over the past half century.

If Americans want to imagine the political tensions over immigration in the European Union, imagine try to imagine the current US political climate if instead of having the total number of unauthorized immigrants falling during the last 10 years, the total had instead been increasing strongly over the last 10 years–and was predicted to keep doing so into the future.

Drawn from Gordon Hanson and Craig McIntosh, Is the Mediterranean the New Rio Grande? US and EU Immigration Pressures in the Long Run.  Fall 2016 issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives.

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