Not to be confused with Emigration or Migration.
"Immigrant" redirects here. For other uses, see Immigrant (disambiguation).

Further information: Immigration by country
Net migration rates for 2011: positive (blue), negative (orange), stable (green), and no data (gray)

Immigration is the international movement of people into a destination country of which they are not natives or where they do not possess citizenship in order to settle or reside there, especially as permanent residents or naturalized citizens, or to take-up employment as a migrant worker or temporarily as a foreign worker.[1][2][3]

When people cross national borders during their migration, they are called migrants or immigrants (from Latin: migrare, wanderer) from the perspective of the country which they enter. From the perspective of the country which they leave, they are called emigrant or outmigrant.[4] Sociology designates immigration usually as migration (as well as emigration accordingly outward migration).

Immigrants are motivated to leave their former countries of citizenship, or habitual residence, for a variety of reasons, including a lack of local access to resources, a desire for economic prosperity, to find or engage in paid work, to better their standard of living, family reunification, retirement, climate or environmentally induced migration, exile, escape from prejudice, conflict or natural disaster, or simply the wish to change one's quality of life. Commuters, tourists and other short-term stays in a destination country do not fall under the definition of immigration or migration, seasonal labour immigration is sometimes included.

In 2013 the United Nations estimated that there were 231,522,215 immigrants in the world (apx. 3.25% of the global population).[5] The United Arab Emirates has the largest proportion of immigrants in the world, followed by Qatar.[6][7]


Sign Immigration near the border between Mali and Mauritania; sponsored by EU

Many animals have migrated across evolutionary history (not including seasonal bird migration), including pre-humans. Human migration started with the migration out of Africa into the Middle East, and then to Asia, Australia, Europe, Russia, and the Americas. This is discussed in the article pre-modern human migration.

Recent history is discussed in the articles history of human migration and human migration.


The global population of immigrants has grown since 1990 but has remained around 3% of the world's population.

As of 2015, the number of international migrants has reached 244 million worldwide, which reflects a 41% increase since 2000. One third of the world's international migrants are living in just 20 countries. The largest number of international migrants live in the United States, with 19% of the world's total. Germany and Russia host 12 million migrants each, taking the second and third place in countries with the most migrants worldwide. Saudi Arabia hosts 10 million migrants, followed by the United Kingdom (9 million) and the United Arab Emirates (8 million).[8]

Between 2000 and 2015, Asia added more international migrants than any other major area in the world, gaining 26 million. Europe added the second largest with about 20 million. In most parts of the world, migration occurs between countries that are located within the same major area.[8]

In 2015, the number of international migrants below the age of 20 reached 37 million, while 177 million are between the ages of 20 and 64. International migrants living in Africa were the youngest, with a median age of 29, followed by Asia (35 years), and Latin America/Caribbean (36 years), while migrants were older in Northern America (42 years), Europe (43 years), and Oceania (44 years).[8]

Nearly half (43%) of all international migrants originate in Asia, and Europe was the birthplace of the second largest number of migrants (25%), followed by Latin America (15%). India has the largest diaspora in the world (16 million people), followed by Mexico (12 million) and Russia (11 million).[8]

2012 survey

A 2012 survey by Gallup found that given the opportunity, 640 million adults would migrate to another country, with 23% of these would-be immigrant choosing the United States as their desired future residence, while 7% of respondents, representing 45 million people, would choose the United Kingdom. The other top desired destination countries (those where an estimated 69 million or more adults would like to go) were Canada, France, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Germany and Spain.[9]

Understanding of immigration

The largest Vietnamese market in Prague, also known as "Little Hanoi". In 2009, there were about 70,000 Vietnamese in the Czech Republic.[10]
London has become multiethnic as a result of immigration.[11] In London in 2008, Black British and British Asian children outnumbered white British children by about 3 to 2 in government-run schools.[12]

One theory of immigration distinguishes between push and pull factors.[13]

Push factors refer primarily to the motive for immigration from the country of origin. In the case of economic migration (usually labor migration), differentials in wage rates are common. If the value of wages in the new country surpasses the value of wages in one's native country, he or she may choose to migrate, as long as the costs are not too high. Particularly in the 19th century, economic expansion of the US increased immigrant flow, and nearly 15% of the population was foreign born,[14] thus making up a significant amount of the labor force.

As transportation technology improved, travel time and costs decreased dramatically between the 18th and early 20th century. Travel across the Atlantic used to take up to 5 weeks in the 18th century, but around the time of the 20th century it took a mere 8 days.[15] When the opportunity cost is lower, the immigration rates tend to be higher.[15] Escape from poverty (personal or for relatives staying behind) is a traditional push factor, and the availability of jobs is the related pull factor. Natural disasters can amplify poverty-driven migration flows. Research shows that for middle-income countries, higher temperatures increase emigration rates to urban areas and to other countries. For low-income countries, higher temperatures reduce emigration.[16]

Emigration and immigration are sometimes mandatory in a contract of employment: religious missionaries and employees of transnational corporations, international non-governmental organizations, and the diplomatic service expect, by definition, to work "overseas". They are often referred to as "expatriates", and their conditions of employment are typically equal to or better than those applying in the host country (for similar work).[17]

For some migrants, education is the primary pull factor (although most international students are not classified as immigrants). Retirement migration from rich countries to lower-cost countries with better climate is a new type of international migration. Examples include immigration of retired British citizens to Spain or Italy and of retired Canadian citizens to the US (mainly to the US states of Florida and Texas).[17]

Non-economic push factors include persecution (religious and otherwise), frequent abuse, bullying, oppression, ethnic cleansing, genocide, risks to civilians during war, and social marginalization.[18][19] Political motives traditionally motivate refugee flows; for instance, people may emigrate in order to escape a dictatorship.[20]

Some migration is for personal reasons, based on a relationship (e.g. to be with family or a partner), such as in family reunification or transnational marriage (especially in the instance of a gender imbalance). Recent research has found gender, age, and cross-cultural differences in the ownership of the idea to immigrate.[21] In a few cases, an individual may wish to immigrate to a new country in a form of transferred patriotism. Evasion of criminal justice (e.g., avoiding arrest) is a personal motivation. This type of emigration and immigration is not normally legal, if a crime is internationally recognized, although criminals may disguise their identities or find other loopholes to evade detection. For example, there have been reports of war criminals disguising themselves as victims of war or conflict and then pursuing asylum in a different country.[22][23][24]

Barriers to immigration come not only in legal form or political form; natural and social barriers to immigration can also be very powerful. Immigrants when leaving their country also leave everything familiar: their family, friends, support network, and culture. They also need to liquidate their assets, and they incur the expense of moving. When they arrive in a new country, this is often with many uncertainties including finding work, where to live, new laws, new cultural norms, language or accent issues, possible racism, and other exclusionary behavior towards them and their family.[25][26]

The Iron Curtain in Europe was designed as a means of preventing emigration. "It is one of the ironies of post-war European history that, once the freedom to travel for Europeans living under communist regimes, which had long been demanded by the West, was finally granted in 1989/90, travel was very soon afterwards made much more difficult by the West itself, and new barriers were erected to replace the Iron Curtain." —Anita Böcker[27]

The politics of immigration have become increasingly associated with other issues, such as national security and terrorism, especially in western Europe, with the presence of Islam as a new major religion. Those with security concerns cite the 2005 French riots and point to the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy as examples of the value conflicts arising from immigration of Muslims in Western Europe. Because of all these associations, immigration has become an emotional political issue in many European nations.[28][29]

Studies have suggested that some special interest groups lobby for less immigration for their own group and more immigration for other groups since they see effects of immigration, such as increased labor competition, as detrimental when affecting their own group but beneficial when impacting other groups. A 2010 European study suggested that "employers are more likely to be pro-immigration than employees, provided that immigrants are thought to compete with employees who are already in the country. Or else, when immigrants are thought to compete with employers rather than employees, employers are more likely to be anti-immigration than employees."[30] A 2011 study examining the voting of US representatives on migration policy suggests that "representatives from more skilled labor abundant districts are more likely to support an open immigration policy towards the unskilled, whereas the opposite is true for representatives from more unskilled labor abundant districts."[31]

Another contributing factor may be lobbying by earlier immigrants. The Chairman for the US Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform—which lobby for more permissive rules for immigrants, as well as special arrangements just for Irish people—has stated that "the Irish Lobby will push for any special arrangement it can get—'as will every other ethnic group in the country.'"[32][33]

Economic migrant

Further information: Economic migrant
The Indo-Bangladeshi barrier in 2007. India is building a separation barrier along the 4,000 kilometer border with Bangladesh to prevent illegal immigration.

The term economic migrant refers to someone who has travelled from one region to another region for the purposes of seeking employment and an improvement in quality of life and access to resources. An economic migrant is distinct from someone who is a refugee fleeing persecution.

Many countries have immigration and visa restrictions that prohibit a person entering the country for the purposes of gaining work without a valid work visa. As a violation of a State's immigration laws a person who is declared to be an economic migrant can be refused entry into a country.

The process of allowing immigrants into a particular country is believed to have effects on wages and employment. In particular lower skilled workers are thought to be directly affected by economic migrants, but evidence suggests that this is due to adjustments within industries.[34]

The World Bank estimates that remittances totaled $420 billion in 2009, of which $317 billion went to developing countries.[35]

Laws and ethics

UNHCR tents at a refugee camp following episodes of anti-immigrant violence in South Africa, 2008
Entry stamp
Exit stamp
Entry (top) and Exit (above) passport stamps issued to a citizen of Germany by Indian immigration authorities at New Delhi airport.

Treatment of migrants in host countries, both by governments, employers, and original population, is a topic of continual debate and criticism, and the violation of migrant human rights is an ongoing crisis.[36] The United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, has been ratified by 48 states, most of which are heavy exporters of cheap labor. Major migrant-receiving countries and regions - including Western Europe, North America, Pacific Asia, Australia, and the Gulf States - have not ratified the Convention, even though they are host to the majority of international migrant workers.[37][38] Although freedom of movement is often recognized as a civil right in many documents such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), the freedom only applies to movement within national borders and the ability to return to one's home state.[39][40]

Some proponents of immigration argue that the freedom of movement both within and between countries is a basic human right, and that the restrictive immigration policies, typical of nation-states, violate this human right of freedom of movement.[41] Such arguments are common among anti-state ideologies like anarchism and libertarianism.[42] As philosopher and Open borders activist Jacob Appel has written, "Treating human beings differently, simply because they were born on the opposite side of a national boundary, is hard to justify under any mainstream philosophical, religious or ethical theory."[43]

Where immigration is permitted, it is typically selective. As of 2003, family reunification accounted for approximately two-thirds of legal immigration to the US every year.[44] Ethnic selection, such as the White Australia policy, has generally disappeared, but priority is usually given to the educated, skilled, and wealthy. Less privileged individuals, including the mass of poor people in low-income countries, cannot avail themselves of the legal and protected immigration opportunities offered by wealthy states. This inequality has also been criticized as conflicting with the principle of equal opportunities. The fact that the door is closed for the unskilled, while at the same time many developed countries have a huge demand for unskilled labor, is a major factor in illegal immigration. The contradictory nature of this policy—which specifically disadvantages the unskilled immigrants while exploiting their labor—has also been criticized on ethical grounds.

Immigration policies which selectively grant freedom of movement to targeted individuals are intended to produce a net economic gain for the host country. They can also mean net loss for a poor donor country through the loss of the educated minority—a "brain drain". This can exacerbate the global inequality in standards of living that provided the motivation for the individual to migrate in the first place. One example of competition for skilled labour is active recruitment of health workers from developing countries by developed countries.[45][46] There may however also be a "brain gain" to emigration, as migration opportunities lead to greater investments in education in developing countries.[47][48][49][50] Overall, research suggests that migration is beneficial both to the receiving and sending countries.[51]

Economic effects

A survey of leading economists shows a consensus behind the view that high-skilled immigration makes the average American better off.[52] A survey of the same economists also shows strong support behind the notion that low-skilled immigration makes the average American better off.[53] According to David Card, Christian Dustmann, and Ian Preston, "most existing studies of the economic impacts of immigration suggest these impacts are small, and on average benefit the native population".[54] In a survey of the existing literature, Örn B Bodvarsson and Hendrik Van den Berg write, "a comparison of the evidence from all the studies... makes it clear that, with very few exceptions, there is no strong statistical support for the view held by many members of the public, namely that immigration has an adverse effect on native-born workers in the destination country."[55]

Whereas the impact on the average native tends to be small and positive, studies show more mixed results for low-skilled natives, but whether the effects are positive or negative, they tend to be small either way.[56][57][58][59][60][61][62][63][64][65][66][67][68] Overall immigration has not had much effect on native wage inequality[69][70] but low-skill immigration has been linked to greater income equality in the native population.[71] Research also suggests that diversity has a net positive effect on productivity[72][73] and economic prosperity.[74] A 2011 literature review of the economic impacts of immigration found that the net fiscal impact of migrants varies across studies but that the most credible analyses typically find small and positive fiscal effects on average.[60] According to the authors, "the net social impact of an immigrant over his or her lifetime depends substantially and in predictable ways on the immigrant's age at arrival, education, reason for migration, and similar".[60] According to a 2007 literature review by the Congressional Budget Office, "Over the past two decades, most efforts to estimate the fiscal impact of immigration in the United States have concluded that, in aggregate and over the long term, tax revenues of all types generated by immigrants—both legal and unauthorized—exceed the cost of the services they use."[75] A 2016 study found that "the diversity of immigrants relates positively to measures of economic prosperity."[76]

Studies of refugees' impact on native welfare are scant but the existing literature shows mixed results (negative, positive and no significant effects on native welfare).[57][77][78][79][80][81][82][83][84][85][86][87] According to labor economist Giovanni Peri, the existing literature suggests that there are no economic reasons why the American labor market could not easily absorb 100,000 Syrian refugees in a year.[88] Refugees integrate more slowly into host countries' labor markets than labor migrants, in part due to the loss and depreciation of human capital and credentials during the asylum procedure.[89] Refugees tend to do worse in economic terms than natives, even when they have the same skills and language proficiencies of natives. For instance, a 2013 study of Germans in West-Germany who had been displaced from Eastern Europe during and after World War II showed that the forced German migrants did far worse economically than their native West-German counterparts decades later.[90] Second-generation forced German migrants also did worse in economic terms than their native counterparts.[90]

Research on the economic effects of undocumented immigrants is even more scant but existing studies suggests that the effects are positive for the native population,[91][92] and public coffers.[75] A 2015 study shows that "increasing deportation rates and tightening border control weakens low-skilled labor markets, increasing unemployment of native low-skilled workers. Legalization, instead, decreases the unemployment rate of low-skilled natives and increases income per native."[59] Studies show that legalization of undocumented immigrants would boost the U.S. economy; a 2013 study found that granting legal status to undocumented immigrants would raise their incomes by a quarter (increasing U.S. GDP by approximately $1.4 trillion over a ten-year period),[93] and 2016 study found that "legalization would increase the economic contribution of the unauthorized population by about 20%, to 3.6% of private-sector GDP."[94]

Research suggests that migration is beneficial both to the receiving and sending countries.[51][95] According to one study, welfare increases in both types of countries: "welfare impact of observed levels of migration is substantial, at about 5% to 10% for the main receiving countries and about 10% in countries with large incoming remittances".[51] According to Branko Milanovic, country of residency is by far the most important determinant of global income inequality, which suggests that the reduction in labor barriers would significantly reduce global income inequality.[96][97] A study of equivalent workers in the United States and 42 developing countries found that "median wage gap for a male, unskilled (9 years of schooling), 35 year-old, urban formal sector worker born and educated in a developing country is P$15,400 per year at purchasing power parity".[98] A 2014 survey of the existing literature on emigration finds that a 10 percent emigrant supply shock would increase wages in the sending country by 2-5.5%.[99] According to economists Michael Clemens and Lant Pratchett, "permitting people to move from low-productivity places to high-productivity places appears to be by far the most efficient generalized policy tool, at the margin, for poverty reduction".[100] A successful two-year in situ anti-poverty program, for instance, helps poor people make in a year what is the equivalent of working one day in the developed world.[100] Research on a migration lottery that allowed that allowed Tongans to move to New Zealand found that the lottery winners saw a 263% increase in income from migrating (after only one year in New Zealand) relative to the unsuccessful lottery entrants.[101] A longer-term study on the Tongan lottery winners finds that they "continue to earn almost 300 percent more than non-migrants, have better mental health, live in households with more than 250 percent higher expenditure, own more vehicles, and have more durable assets".[102] A conservative estimate of their lifetime gain to migration is NZ$315,000 in net present value terms (approximately US$237,000).[102] A slight reduction in the barriers to labor mobility between the developing and developed world would do more to reduce poverty in the developing world than any remaining trade liberalization.[103]

Studies show that the elimination of barriers to migration would have profound effects on world GDP, with estimates of gains ranging between 67–147.3%.[104][105][106] Research also finds that migration leads to greater trade in goods and services.[107][108][109][110] Using 130 years of data on historical migrations to the United States, one study finds "that a doubling of the number of residents with ancestry from a given foreign country relative to the mean increases by 4.2 percentage points the probability that at least one local firm invests in that country, and increases by 31% the number of employees at domestic recipients of FDI from that country. The size of these effects increases with the ethnic diversity of the local population, the geographic distance to the origin country, and the ethno-linguistic fractionalization of the origin country."[111] Another study, looking at the period 1960-2013, finds that immigration and cultural diversity boost economic development.[112][113]

According to one survey of the existing economic literature, "much of the existing research points towards positive net contributions by immigrant entrepreneurs."[114] Immigrants to the United States create businesses at higher rates than natives.[115] Mass migration can also boost innovation and growth, as shown by the Huguenot Diaspora in Prussia,[116] German Jewish Émigrés in the US,[117] the Mariel boatlift[118] and west-east migration in the wake of German reunification.[119] Immigrants have been linked to greater invention and innovation in the US.[120] According to one report, "immigrants have started more than half (44 of 87) of America’s startup companies valued at $1 billion dollars or more and are key members of management or product development teams in over 70 percent (62 of 87) of these companies."[121] Research also shows that labor migration increases human capital.[122][123][124][125][126] Foreign doctoral students are a major source of innovation in the American economy.[127] In the United States, immigrant workers hold a disproportionate share of jobs in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM): "In 2013, foreign-born workers accounted for 19.2 percent of STEM workers with a bachelor's degree, 40.7 percent of those with a master's degree, and more than half—54.5 percent—of those with a Ph.D."[128]

A 2015 study finds "some evidence that larger immigrant population shares (or inflows) yield positive impacts on institutional quality. At a minimum, our results indicate that no negative impact on economic freedom is associated with more immigration."[129] Another study, looking at the increase in Israel's population in the 1990s due to the unrestricted immigration of Jews from the Soviet Union, finds that the mass immigration did not undermine political institutions, and substantially increased the quality of economic institutions.[130]

Research indicates that immigrants are more likely to work in risky jobs than U.S.-born workers, partly due to differences in average characteristics, such as immigrants' lower English language ability and educational attainment.[131] Further, some studies indicate that higher ethnic concentration in metropolitan areas is positively related to the probability of self-employment of immigrants.[132]


Some research has found that as immigration and ethnic heterogeneity increase, government funding of welfare and public support for welfare decrease.[133][134] Ethnic nepotism may be an explanation for this phenomenon. Other possible explanations include theories regarding in-group and out-group effects and reciprocal altruism.[135]

Research however also challenges the notion that ethnic heterogeneity reduces public goods provision.[136][137] Studies that find a negative relationship between ethnic diversity and public goods provision often fail to take into account that strong states were better at assimilating minorities, thus decreasing diversity in the long run.[136] Ethnically diverse states today consequently tend to be weaker states.[136] Because most of the evidence on fractionalization comes from sub-Saharan Africa and the United States, the generalizability of the findings is questionable.[137]

Research finds that Americans' attitudes towards immigration influence their attitudes towards welfare spending.[138]


One study finds that non-native speakers of English in the UK have no causal impact on the performance of other pupils.[139] The presence of immigrant children in classrooms has no significant impact on the test scores of Dutch children.[140] An Austrian study finds no effect on grade repetition among native students exposed to migrant students.[141] A North Carolina study found that the presence of Latin American children in schools had no significant negative effects on peers, but that students with limited English skills had slight negative effects on peers.[142]


A 2015 report by the National Institute of Demographic Studies finds that an overwhelming majority of second-generation immigrants of all origins in France feel French, despite the persistent discrimination in education, housing and employment that many of the minorities face.[143]

A 2016 paper challenges the view that cultural differences are necessarily an obstacle to long-run economic performance of migrants. It finds that "first generation migrants seem to be less likely to success the more culturally distant they are, but this effect vanishes as time spent in the USA increases."[144]

Research shows that country of origin matters for speed and depth of immigrant assimilation but that there is considerable assimilation overall.[145] Research finds that first generation immigrants from countries with less egalitarian gender cultures adopt gender values more similar to natives over time.[146][147] According to one study, "this acculturation process is almost completed within one generational succession: The gender attitudes of second generation immigrants are difficult to distinguish from the attitudes of members of mainstream society. This holds also for children born to immigrants from very gender traditional cultures and for children born to less well integrated immigrant families."[146] Similar results are found on a study of Turkish migrants to Western Europe.[147] The assimilation on gender attitudes has been observed in education, as one study finds "that the female advantage in education observed among the majority population is usually present among second-generation immigrants."[148]

First-generation immigrants tend to hold less accepting views of homosexual lifestyles but opposition weakens with longer stays.[149] Second-generation immigrants are overall more accepting of homosexual lifestyles, but the acculturation effect is weaker for Muslims and to some extent, Eastern Orthodox migrants.[149]

A study of Bangladeshi migrants in East London found they shifted towards the thinking styles of the wider non-migrant population in just a single generation.[150]

A study on Germany found that foreign-born parents are more likely to integrate if their children are entitled to German citizenship at birth.[151] Naturalization is associated with large and persistent wage gains for the naturalized citizens in most countries.[152]

Measuring assimilation can be difficult due to "ethnic attrition", which refers to when ancestors of migrants cease to self-identify with the nationality or ethnicity of their ancestors. This means that successful cases of assimilation will be underestimated. Research shows that ethnic attrition is sizable in Hispanic and Asian immigrant groups in the United States.[153][154] By taking account of ethnic attrition, the assimilation rate of Hispanics in the United States improves significantly.[153][155]

Studies on programs that randomly allocate refugee immigrants across municipalities find that the assignment of neighborhood impacts immigrant crime propensity, education and earnings.[156][157][158][159][160]

Research suggests that bilingual schooling reduces barriers between speakers from two different communities.[161]

Social capital

There is some research that suggests that immigration adversely affects social capital.[162] One study, for instance, found that "larger increases in US states' Mexican population shares correspond to larger decreases in social capital over the period" 1986-2004.[163]


Research suggests that immigration has positive effects on native workers' health.[164] As immigration rises, native workers are pushed into less demanding jobs, which improves native workers' health outcomes.[164]


Much of the empirical research on the causal relationship between immigration and crime has been limited due to weak instruments for determining causality.[165] According to one economist writing in 2014, "while there have been many papers that document various correlations between immigrants and crime for a range of countries and time periods, most do not seriously address the issue of causality."[166] The problem with causality primarily revolves around the location of immigrants being endogenous, which means that immigrants tend to disproportionally locate in deprived areas where crime is higher (because they cannot afford to stay in more expensive areas) or because they tend to locate in areas where there is a large population of residents of the same ethnic background.[167] A burgeoning literature relying on strong instruments provides mixed findings.[167][168][169][170][171][172][173][174] As one economist describes the existing literature in 2014, "most research for the US indicates that if any, this association is negative... while the results for Europe are mixed for property crime but no association is found for violent crime".[167] Another economist writing in 2014, describes how "the evidence, based on empirical studies of many countries, indicates that there is no simple link between immigration and crime, but legalizing the status of immigrants has beneficial effects on crime rates."[166]

The relationship between crime and the legal status of immigrants remains understudied[175] but studies on amnesty programs in the United States and Italy suggest that legal status can largely explain the differences in crime between legal and illegal immigrants, most likely because legal status leads to greater job market opportunities for the immigrants.[166][176][177][178][179] However, one study finds that the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 led to an increase in crime among previously undocumented immigrants.[180]



Research suggests that police practices, such as racial profiling, over-policing in areas populated by minorities and in-group bias may result in disproportionately high numbers of racial minorities among crime suspects in Sweden, Italy, and England and Wales.[181][182][183][184][185] Research also suggests that there may be possible discrimination by the judicial system, which contributes to a higher number of convictions for racial minorities in Sweden, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Denmark and France.[181][183][184][186][187][188][189]

Several meta-analyses find extensive evidence of ethnic and racial discrimination in hiring in the North-American and European labor markets.[190][191][192] A 2016 meta-analysis of 738 correspondence tests in 43 separate studies conducted in OECD countries between 1990 and 2015 finds that there is extensive racial discrimination in hiring decisions in Europe and North-America.[191] Equivalent minority candidates need to send around 50% more applications to be invited for an interview than majority candidates.[191]

A 2014 meta-analysis found extensive evidence of racial and ethnic discrimination in the housing market of several European countries.[190]

The United States


A 2014 meta-analysis of racial discrimination in product markets found extensive evidence of minority applicants being quoted higher prices for products.[190] A 1995 study found that car dealers "quoted significantly lower prices to white males than to black or female test buyers using identical, scripted bargaining strategies."[193] A 2013 study found that eBay sellers of iPods received 21 percent more offers if a white hand held the iPod in the photo than a black hand.[194]

Criminal justice system

Research suggests that police practices, such as racial profiling, over-policing in areas populated by minorities and in-group bias may result in disproportionately high numbers of racial minorities among crime suspects.[195][196][197][198] Research also suggests that there may be possible discrimination by the judicial system, which contributes to a higher number of convictions for racial minorities.[199][200][201][202][203] A 2012 study found that "(i) juries formed from all-white jury pools convict black defendants significantly (16 percentage points) more often than white defendants, and (ii) this gap in conviction rates is entirely eliminated when the jury pool includes at least one black member."[201] Research has found evidence of in-group bias, where "black (white) juveniles who are randomly assigned to black (white) judges are more likely to get incarcerated (as opposed to being placed on probation), and they receive longer sentences."[203] In-group bias has also been observed when it comes to traffic citations, as black and white cops are more likely to cite out-groups.[197]


A 2015 study using correspondence tests "found that when considering requests from prospective students seeking mentoring in the future, faculty were significantly more responsive to White males than to all other categories of students, collectively, particularly in higher-paying disciplines and private institutions."[204] Through affirmative action, there is reason to believe that elite colleges favor minority applicants.[205]


A 2014 meta-analysis found extensive evidence of racial discrimination in the American housing market.[190] Minority applicants for housing needed to make many more enquiries to view properties.[190] Geographical steering of African-Americans in US housing remained significant.[190] A 2003 study finds "evidence that agents interpret an initial housing request as an indication of a customer's preferences, but also are more likely to withhold a house from all customers when it is in an integrated suburban neighborhood (redlining). Moreover, agents' marketing efforts increase with asking price for white, but not for black, customers; blacks are more likely than whites to see houses in suburban, integrated areas (steering); and the houses agents show are more likely to deviate from the initial request when the customer is black than when the customer is white. These three findings are consistent with the possibility that agents act upon the belief that some types of transactions are relatively unlikely for black customers (statistical discrimination)."[206]

A report by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development where the department sent African-Americans and whites to look at apartments found that African-Americans were shown fewer apartments to rent and houses for sale.[207]

Labor market

Several meta-analyses find extensive evidence of ethnic and racial discrimination in hiring in the American labor market.[190][192][208] A 2016 meta-analysis of 738 correspondence tests - tests where identical CVs for stereotypically black and white names were sent to employers - in 43 separate studies conducted in OECD countries between 1990 and 2015 finds that there is extensive racial discrimination in hiring decisions in Europe and North-America.[208] These correspondence tests showed that equivalent minority candidates need to send around 50% more applications to be invited for an interview than majority candidates.[208][209] A study that examine the job applications of actual people provided with identical résumés and similar interview training showed that African-American applicants with no criminal record were offered jobs at a rate as low as white applicants who had criminal records.[210]

Impact on the sending country

Remittances increase living standards in the country of origin. Remittances are a large share of the GDP of many developing countries.[211][211] A study on remittances to Mexico found that remittances lead to a substantial increase in the availability of public services in Mexico, surpassing government spending in some localities.[212]

Research finds that emigration and low migration barriers has net positive effects on human capital formation in the sending countries.[47][48][49][50] This means that there is a "brain gain" instead of a "brain drain" to emigration.

One study finds that sending countries benefit indirectly in the long-run on the emigration of skilled workers because those skilled workers are able to innovate more in developed countries, which the sending countries are able to benefit on as a positive externality. Greater emigration of skilled workers consequently leads to greater economic growth and welfare improvements in the long-run.[213] The negative effects of high-skill emigration remain largely unfounded. According to economist Michael Clemens, it has not been shown that restrictions on high-skill emigration reduce shortages in the countries of origin.[214]

Research also suggests that emigration, remittances and return migration can have a positive impact on political institutions and democratization in the country of origin.[215][216][217][218][219][220][221][222] Research also shows that remittances can lower the risk of civil war in the country of origin.[223] Return migration from countries with liberal gender norms has been associated with the transfer of liberal gender norms to the home country.[224]

Research suggests that emigration causes an increase in the wages of those who remain in the country of origin. A 2014 survey of the existing literature on emigration finds that a 10 percent emigrant supply shock would increase wages in the sending country by 2-5.5%.[225] A study of emigration from Poland shows that it led to a slight increase in wages for high- and medium-skilled workers for remaining Poles.[226] A 2013 study finds that emigration from Eastern Europe after the 2004 EU enlargement increased the wages of remaining young workers in the country of origin by 6%, while it had no effect on the wages of old workers.[227] The wages of Lithuanian men increased as a result of post-EU enlargement emigration.[228] Return migration is associated with greater household firm revenues.[229]

Some research shows that the remittance effect is not strong enough to make the remaining natives in countries with high emigration flows better off.[230]

It has been argued that high-skill emigration causes labor shortages in the country of origin. This remains unsupported in the academic literature though. According to economist Michael Clemens, it has not been shown that restrictions on high-skill emigration reduce shortages in the countries of origin.[214]

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Further reading

  • Appel, Jacob. The Ethical Case for an Open Immigration Policy 4 May 2009.
  • Balin, Bryan. State Immigration Legislation and Immigrant Flows: An Analysis Johns Hopkins University, 2008.
  • Bauder, Harald. Labor Movement: How Migration Regulates Labor Markets, New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.
  • Borjas, George J. (2014). Immigration Economics. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-04977-2. 
  • Borjas, George. "Increasing the Supply of Labor Through Immigration". Center for Immigration Studies, May 2004.
  • Burtless, Gary. "Impact of Immigration on the Distribution of American Well-Being". Brookings Institution, 2009.
  • Center for Immigration Studies Refer to "Publications" for research on illegal immigration, demographic trends, terrorism concerns, environmental impact, and other subjects.
  • De La Torre, Miguel A., Trails of Hope and Terror: Testimonies on Immigration. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Press, 2009.
  • Esbenshade, Jill. Division and Dislocation: Regulating Immigration through Local Housing Ordinances. Immigration Policy Center, American Immigration Law Foundation, Summer 2007.
  • Ewing, Walter A. Border Insecurity: U.S. Border-Enforcement Policies and National Security, Immigration Policy Center, American Immigration Law Foundation, Spring 2006.
  • Fell, Peter and Hayes, Debra. What are they Doing Here? A Critical Guide to Asylum and Immigration, Birmimgham, Venture Press, 2007.
  • Fitzgerald, David Scott; Cook-Martin, David (2014). Culling the Masses: The Democratic Origins of Racist Immigration Policy in the Americas. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0674-72904-9. 
  • Freeman, Joe. Living and Working in the European Union for Non-EU Nationals., 2007. ISBN 0-9786254-0-4
  • Immigration Policy Center. Economic Growth & Immigration: Bridging the Demographic Divide. Immigration Policy Center, American Immigration Law Foundation, November 2005.
  • "Immigration: The Demographic and Economic Facts". Cato Institute, 1995.
  • Karakayali, Nedim. 2005. "Duality and Diversity in the Lives of Immigrant Children: Rethinking the 'Problem of Second Generation' in Light of Immigrant Autobiographies", Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology, Vol. 42, No. 3, pp. 325–344.
  • Kolb, Eva. The Evolution of New York City's Multiculturalism: Melting Pot or Salad Bowl. Immigrants in New York from the 19th Century until the End of the Gilded Age. BOD, 2009. ISBN 3-8370-9303-4
  • Legrain, Philippe. Immigrants: Your Country Needs Them. Little Brown, 2007. ISBN 0-316-73248-6
  • Massey, Douglas S. Beyond the Border Buildup: Towards a New Approach to Mexico-U.S. Migration. Immigration Policy Center, American Immigration Law Foundation, September 2005.
  • Massey, Douglas S., Joaquín Arango, Hugo Graeme, Ali Kouaouci, Adela, Pellegrino, and J. Edward Taylor.Worlds in Motion: Understanding International Migration at the End of the Millennium. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-19-928276-5
  • Meilander, Peter C. Towards a Theory of Immigration. Palgrave Macmillan, 2001. ISBN 978-0-312-24034-9
  • Molina, Natalia. Fit to Be Citizens?: Public Health and Race in Los Angeles, 1879-1940. University of California Press, 2006.
  • Myers, Dowell. Immigrants and Boomers: Forging a New Social Contract for the Future of America. Russell Sage Foundation, 2007. ISBN 978-0-87154-636-4
  • Passel, Jeffrey S. Estimates of the Size and Characteristics of the Undocumented Population. Pew Hispanic Center, March 2005.
  • Passel, Jeffrey S. Growing Share of Immigrants Choosing Naturalization. Pew Hispanic Center, March 2007.
  • Passel, Jeffrey S. and Roberto Suro. Rise, Peak and Decline: Trends in U.S. Immigration. Pew Hispanic Center, September 2005.
  • Pearce, Susan C. Immigrant Women in the United States: A Demographic Portrait. Immigration Policy Center, American Immigration Law Foundation, Summer 2006.
  • Portes, Alejandro and József Böröcz, "Contemporary Immigration: Theoretical Perspectives on Its Determinants and Modes of Incorporation" International Migration Review, 23,3, Silver Anniversary Issue, International Migration: an Assessment for the 90's. (Autumn, 1989), pp. 606–630.
  • Rumbaut, Ruben and Walter Ewing. "The Myth of Immigrant Criminality and the Paradox of Assimilation: Incarceration Rates among Native and Foreign-Born Men." The Immigration Policy Center, Spring 2007.
  • Sintès Pierre, La raison du mouvement : territoires et réseaux de migrants albanais en Grèce, Karthala, Maison Méditerranéenne des sciences de l'homme, Ecole française d'Athènes, Paris - Aix-en-Provence - Athens, 2010.
  • Sirkeci, Ibrahim The Environment of Insecurity in Turkey and the Emigration of Turkish Kurds to Germany ISBN 9780773457393 New York, Edwin Mellen Press, 2006.
  • Valle, Isabel. Fields of Toil: A Migrant Family's Journey. ISBN 978-0-87422-101-5
  • West, Lorane A. Color: Latino Voices in the Pacific Northwest. ISBN 978-0-87422-274-6
  • Zolberg, Aristide. A Nation by Design: Immigration Policy in the Fashioning of America. Harvard University Press, 2006. ISBN 0-674-02218-1

External links

Look up immigration in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
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Wikisource has the text of an 1879 American Cyclopædia article about Immigration.
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