Attention, Europe: You're not being overwhelmed by immigrants

How It Works
May 21 2014 11:32 AM

Attention, Europe: You’re Not Being Overwhelmed by Immigrants

109426093-bulgarian-border-policeman-stands-in-front-of-a-border
A Bulgarian border policeman stands in front of a border checkpoint at the Kapitan Andreevo border crossing point between Bulgaria and Turkey on Feb. 11, 2011.

Photo by Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images

Far-right parties are poised to make major gains in European Parliament elections this week, many of them promising further restrictions on immigration. Given recent political developments on the continent and the ongoing asylum-seeker crisis in the Mediterranean, you might think that Europe is in the midst of being overwhelmed by an influx of immigrants. But that’s not the case, according to a new analysis released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development today:

Between 2007 and 2011, the European Union as a whole saw a decline of inflows from outside the Union of around 4% per year. In 2012, these flows dropped by 12%.
Advertisement

Migration among EU countries increased substantially in 2012, but it was concentrated in just a few countries, namely Germany. A number of Southern European countries, mostly Italy and Spain, saw major drops in inflows.  

Joshua Keating Joshua Keating

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

Germany saw immigration increase by over a third in 2012, making it the second-most-popular destination country in the OECD, after the United States. (U.S. inflows fell by 3 percent, but it’s still the world’s most popular destination.)

As the Financial Times notes, “Germany, which has one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe, needs migrants to counter its low fertility rate and a decline in its working age population. Fertility rates have been falling in much of Europe for three or more decades to levels too low to provide enough new workers to replace those reaching retirement age.”

Britain, where the nationalist U.K. Independence Party is poised to perform well this week, saw “inflows fall by 11% to under 300 000 persons, the lowest level recorded since 2003.”

Yes, these are 2012 numbers, but there’s not much evidence that things have changed dramatically. UKIP predicted a massive influx of Bulgarian and Romanian workers after British visa restrictions were lifted on them in January of this year, but new government statistics suggest their numbers have actually fallen.

European voters certainly have plenty of legitimate grievances as they head to the polls this week, and it’s not surprising that fringe parties are in a position to benefit, but there doesn’t seem to be much evidence that the continent is being flooded by immigrants.

TODAY IN SLATE

Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Yes, Black Families Tend to Spank More. That Doesn’t Mean It’s Good for Black Kids.

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

The Best Way to Organize Your Fridge

Politics

The GOP’s Focus on Fake Problems

Why candidates like Scott Walker are building campaigns on drug tests for the poor and voter ID laws.

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

Iran and the U.S. Are Allies Against ISIS but Aren’t Ready to Admit It Yet

Farewell! Emily Bazelon on What She Will Miss About Slate.

  News & Politics
Foreigners
Sept. 16 2014 4:08 PM More Than Scottish Pride Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 5:07 PM One Comedy Group Has the Perfect Idea for Ken Burns’ Next Project
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 1:48 PM Why We Need a Federal Robotics Commission
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 16 2014 4:09 PM It’s All Connected What links creativity, conspiracy theories, and delusions? A phenomenon called apophenia.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.