Analysis: Do Migrants Take the Jobs of Native Workers?

An analysis published by researcher Amelie F. Constant in the Germany-based IZA World of Labor tackles the question: Do migrants take the jobs of native workers?

The answer, Constant finds, is no. When immigrants do compete for jobs traditionally held by native works, the effects are small and not statistically significant. A more interesting challenge for policy makers may be the effects on productivity and technological innovation when low-skilled workers are used in place of physical capital.

Despite some downsides, Constant finds that overall, the positive effects of immigration far outweigh the negative. She writes:

“Neither public opinion nor evidence-based research supports the claim of some politicians and the media that immigrants take the jobs of native-born workers. Public opinion polls in six migrant-destination countries after the 2008–2009 recession show that most people believe that immigrants fill job vacancies and many believe that they create jobs and do not take jobs from native workers. This view is corroborated by evidence-based research showing that immigrants—of all skill levels—do not significantly affect native employment in the short term and boost employment in the long term.”

Other key findings include:

  • Immigrants who are self-employed or entrepreneurs directly create new jobs.
  • Immigrant innovators create jobs indirectly within a firm, leading to long-term job growth.
  • New immigrants fill labor shortages and keep markets working efficiently.
  • High-skilled immigrants contribute to technological adaptation and low-skilled immigrants to occupational mobility, specialization, and human capital creation; both create new jobs for native workers.
  • By raising demand, immigrants cause firms and production to expand, resulting in new hiring.

Read the full analysis.

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