The Migrant Crisis – is this a blessing in disguise?

This summer whilst inter-railing around Europe I experienced first hand the ‘Migrant Crisis‘. I was crossing the Greece-Macedonian border via train when hundreds of Syrian migrants were waiting to board our train. After a two hour struggle between the train guards and the migrants, around 200 migrants managed to climb through the windows and break down doors to secure their place across the boarder.

This is an example of forced migration as Syrians are fleeing the civil war. “The average GDP per capita in Syria [is] about a tenth of the averages in most European countries” (Yazgam, 2015), which provides a ‘pull’ for these forced migrants. The migration will effect the economic growth, labour markets and public spending of these host countries – But will it effects be for the EU?

Turkey officially hosted 1.7 million refugees from Syria alone in 2015 (‘UNHCR Syria regional refugee response’, 2014). In the short term, research on the Turkish labour market showed a rise in unemployment. In particular; “large-scale displacement of informal, low educated, female Turkish workers”. Additionally, Turkey spent $6 billion in the form of humanitarian aid (Wagner, Carpio, & Ximena, 2015). A study by Bahcekapili concluded that, “Turkish citizens are in a disadvantaged situation in terms of per capita income” (Bahcekapili & Cetin, 2015). However, the EU has an economy “23 times larger than Turkey” so the negative effects would be drowned out (Sekkarie & Calì, 2015).

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 15.36.00
Figure 1: Graph to show the demography of Syrian Refugees in Turkey. (UNHCR, 2015).

Conversely, there are long term benefits. Research has shown that more than one-fifth of Europeans will be “65 or older by 2025” (Proctor, 2015). The graph above shows that 54.2% of the migrants are under the age of 17 helping to alleviate the ageing population issue.

As Wolfgang Schäuble, Germany’s financial minister put; The short-term costs are manageable, while the long-term benefits are potentially substantial (Wolff, 2014).

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