Replacement Migration – a remedy for Europe? Chris Wilson email@example.com European Migration Network, Malta Annual Conference St Julian’s, Malta, 2 December 2013
Migration and population dynamics Assessing the nature and scale of migration’s impact on Europe’s populations is a priority for research. To understand this correctly, migration has to be seen in conjunction with fertility – both are aspects of population renewal or inter-generational replacement. In this talk I will examine the combined impacts of childbearing and migration in shaping Europe’s demographic regimes. Immigration can play a key role in compensating for low fertility, but emigration can lead to rapid population decline.
Fertility below replacement Fertility in Europe has now been below 2.1 for decades: W. Europe since early-1970s, S. Europe since, c. 1980, E. Europe since the early-1990s. In much of S. and E. Europe has fallen very low indeed, it is currently between 1.3 and 1.5 children per woman. Malta in 2011 – 1.49. This low fertility provides the context in which to assess the impact of migration. A good aim for policy is demographic stability – both rapid growth and rapid decline in population size can be problematic.
Replacement migration Can migrants be substitutes for births? In principle a shortfall of births in a year can be made up for by migrants about 15-20 years later, keeping the flow of entrants into the working population about the same. However, most of the studies carried out in the 1980s and 1990s by demographers concluded that the scale of migration need to compensate for very low fertility was socially and politically unfeasible. Yet, even as they wrote, their conclusions were being overtaken by events, as large-scale immigration became the norm in Western Europe.
Demographic regimes – Europe Each country has its own specific character, but we can discern four broadly coherent regions that have shown similar trends for several decades. North-West Europe Germanosphere Southern Europe Eastern Europe
North-West – 187 million East – 94 million Germanosphere – 97 million South – 130 million
TT Total fertility – 2011 Children per woman EU-28 1.57
Demographic regimes – Europe Each country has its own specific character, but we can discern four broadly coherent regions that have shown similar trends for several decades. North-West Europe: fertility close to replacement and moderate to high immigration, growing populations. Germanosphere: low fertility and moderate immigration, low population growth. Southern Europe: low fertility and high immigration, moderate population growth; Eastern Europe: low fertility and moderate to high emigration, mostly static or declining populations.
Overall Replacement Ratio The overall replacement ratio is a simply calculated indicator of the extent to which fertility and migration jointly determine inter-generational replacement. It tracks cohorts born in a given year and relates the cohort size to the number of women of child-bearing age in the year the cohort was born. ORR = 1 indicates exact replacement. Rising lines indicate net immigration. Falling lines indicate net emigration.
Results using the ORR – Europe Western Europe (EU-15) has experienced replacement migration for several decades. Most countries reach the replacement level by age 30. Much of Southern Europe has seen extremely large in-flows, especially Spain, though in the last 3-4 years these have reduced or reversed. Eastern Europe has seen large outflows of population since the 1990s. Combined with low fertility, the emigration implies very significant changes to their total populations and accelerated ageing.
Overall Replacement Ratio – Western Europe (EU-15), cohorts 1972-1995
Differences within countries Regional differences within countries can be even larger than in national patterns. The ORR shows the combined impact of international and internal migration; internal flows are significant in some regions. For example, the UK as a whole has clearly experienced replacement migration for several decades. The main impact of immigration is seen in London and South-East England. The rest of the UK shows no replacement migration.
Migration and ageing Even the large migration flows into Britain and Western Europe seen in recent decades cannot prevent population ageing – it is an inevitable aspect of our future. Ageing is not a problem to be solved, but rather a predicament that we must learn to live with. However, the migration does slow the speed with which ageing occurs and reduces its impact on the labour force. The regionally varied nature of immigration’s impact will tend to increase regional differences in ageing. The large out-flows from much of Eastern Europe will lead to increased ageing there.
Future prospects It is still too soon to say how enduring the impact of the current economic crisis will be. Even with their present problems, most countries in the EU-15 look like attractive destinations for potential migrants in many parts of the world, and thus replacement migration looks to be a plausible future. Countries in Eastern Europe with large out-flows are likely to remain net exporters of people for some time. In the longer term, they too are likely to become attractive destinations for immigrants.