Economic migrant

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An economic migrant is someone who emigrates from one region to another, including crossing international borders, seeking an improved standard of living, because the conditions or job opportunities in the migrant's own region are insufficient.[1][2] The United Nations uses the term migrant worker.[3]

Although the term economic migrant may be confused with the term refugee, economic migrants leave their regions primarily due to harsh economic conditions, rather than fear of persecution on the basis of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership of a particular social group.[4] Economic migrants are generally not eligible for asylum, unless the economic conditions they face are severe enough to have caused generalised violence, or seriously disturbed the public order.


Many countries[citation needed] restrict people from entering their borders to work, unless they have been granted a visa that specifically allows them to work in the country. Migrants who seek paid employment after entering without authorization to work may be subject to deportation.[5]

Advantages and disadvantages[edit]

With economic migration on a large scale, the majority of migrants are often of working age, defined by the OECD as 15-64 years of age. In such cases[citation needed], migration can cause economic strain -- as working-age people exit the region, the elderly and aging population remains.

However, the mass migration of working-age people can also release pressure on the region's current job market and resources. Migrants also transfer wealth back to their source regions: the World Bank estimates that remittances totaled US$420 billion in 2009, of which $317 billion went to developing countries.[6]

For host regions, the influx of large numbers of working-age migrants is source of cheap labour.[citation needed] In some cases[citation needed], economic migrants are highly skilled and looking for specialized jobs not available in their home regions. The inflow of migrants can also increase cultural diversity.[7]

Labour market[edit]

Over the past ten years[citation needed], migrants accounted for 47% of the increase in the work force in the United States, and for over 70% of the increase in Europe, as reported by the OECD in 2012.

Migrants fill important niches in the labor market, and contribute significantly to labor market flexibility, especially in Europe[citation needed]. Recent studies[citation needed] from the OECD report that immigrants are playing a crucial role in the labor market: in the U.S., immigrants made up 22% of entries in the fastest growing occupations and 15% in Europe (healthcare, STEM, etc.).

Immigrants are also highly represented in the slowest growing occupations, making up approximately 28% of new entries in the U.S. and 24% in Europe. In the United States, these occupations are primarily in production and other industries that domestic workers would consider unattractive; in the absence of demand for these occupations, immigrant workers fill these sectors.

In OECD countries, the inflow of migrants accounts for less than 0.5%+/- change in GDP. Exceptions to this are Switzerland and Luxembourg, which have approximated a 2% net benefit in GDP due to migrants.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "economic migrant - definition and synonyms". Macmillan Dictionary. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
  2. ^ "Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary". Oxford Dictionaries. p. economic migrant. Archived from the original on 2015-09-14.
  3. ^ "United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families". United Nations. Retrieved December 29, 2014.
  4. ^ "settlement services international". Settlement services international. 2015. Retrieved November 9, 2015.
  5. ^ Types of migration: Economic Migration, BBC
  6. ^ Remittance Prices Worldwide
  7. ^ "Effects of Migration". BBC. 2015. Retrieved November 9, 2015.
  8. ^ "Migration Policy Debates" (PDF). Migration. OECD. 2014. Retrieved November 9, 2015.