Immigration Patterns from Southern Europe to Germany and Switzerland in response to expected job prospects and welfare

Reviewed by Matthew Zipf

In Immigration Patterns from Southern Europe to Germany and Switzerland in response to expected job prospects and welfare, Smith College undergraduate student Farah Hamud Khan examines the economic motives for northern-bound migrants in post-USSR Europe. Khan meticulously compiles emigration data from 1990 to 2013 for Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain, and then presents a regression analysis of the data set. For each country, Khan evaluates how welfare differences—measured by the ratio of mean wages between countries—and employment prospects motivate migrants.

The regression’s results preclude any all-encompassing conclusion, as the migration data between countries suggest varied reforms. “Immigration from Greece to Germany,” Khan writes, “is increasing and is dependent on both prospects of better employment and welfare gain.” But the regression also suggests that a wage increase in Switzerland will decrease emigration from Greece, which Khan highlights as contradictory to typical economic thinking.

Elsewhere, the regression suggests that after the Eurozone financial crisis Italians are less likely to migrate to Germany for job prospects, despite a doubling of emigration between 2008 and 2013. Khan discriminates between pre- and post-crisis years but does not factor out the initial migration boom, in the early ‘90s, which may have skewed her results.

Indeed, the paper neglects any social or historical factors outside of the development of the Schengen area and the financial crisis. “One might argue,” Khan writes, “that instead of using total migration flows, we could have used migration flows of workers only, since we are examining labor immigration.” The paper presents an exclusively economic analysis of a broader human phenomenon; as such, it cannot tell the full story.

Nonetheless, the paper provides a basis for future research and presents a nuanced account of the economic motives for migration in Europe. Khan’s work confirms the literature in stating that migration flows have increased due to improved job prospects and expected welfare, but stops short of any consistent conclusions as to the relative effects of each.

See the full paper here!

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