With the arrival of Romania and Buglaria as full members of the EU the issue of migration is once more attracting a lot of attention. Stefan Wagstyl recently had an FT piece which gave a fair overview of the kind of debate which is presently going on in the UK, where the substantial (and largely welcomed) movement of large numbers of migrants from Poland and other Eastern Accession countries has now lead to an ongoing reflection over whether a repeat performance with its origins in the latest member countries would be considered so desireable. Immigration obviously has the capacity to bring out both the best and the worst in us, often at one and the same time.
As I have often pointed out on this site, attitudes towards migration have changed considerably among economists in recent years as awareness of the significance of population ageing has grown. Here is an early post in which I began to address the topic, New Economist has been covering the latest round of debate – and here – over at Demograohy Matters both Nandan Desai and Claus Vistesen have posts which are directly related to the debate, while Pienso Development Blog looks at the pros and cons of migration from the point of view of the sending country.
One point which is very clear is that there is currently a big difference between Northern and Southern Europe on the topic. In the south, and especially in Italy and Spain, it is unskilled labour which is being seen as particularly desireable, in that it creates a dynamism which facilitates the creation of the kind of employment where more educated locals may find work, while in the North, and especially now in France, it is skilled migration that is being promoted. As I try to argue in this post (and especially the comments) personally I see the southern model as a much more sustainable one, and one which is likely to create less social tension in the longer run.