This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Europe's Migrant Picture is Different Than You Might Imagine

For most of the past 200 years, European countries have been sources of out-migration more than in-migration. That has changed more recently as European nations have been taking in more immigrants. Syrian refugees to Europe have, of course, sparked an atmosphere of crisis about this, but it is sometimes useful to sit back and see what the real situation is. Maps can help with this, and Jakub Marian, a Czech linguist, mathematician and artist, has put together a set of four maps about international migration in Europe, based on a 2015 study by the United Nations on international migration. The first map shows the percent of the population in each European country that is foreign born. Setting aside Luxembourg, which is a very small place (population of less than a million) Switzerland has the highest percentage of foreigners, perhaps not surprising given all of the international organizations that are based there. As a point of comparison, the U.S. (which has accepted more immigrants over the years than any other country in the world), currently has a bit over 13% of its population that is foreign-born--not quite as high as the 15% a hundred years ago. You can see in the map that almost all western and northern European countries are now near or above the U.S. in this regard.

The second map is perhaps the more surprising, because it shows the country that has contributed the greatest number of immigrants to the stock of each country. In the Brexit vote there was a lot of concern about the immigration of Eastern Europeans, but in fact India remains the largest source of foreigners in the U.K. In Ireland it is the British who comprise the biggest chunk of immigrants, and in Switzerland it is Germans. On the other hand, Russian immigrants dominate the immigrant landscape in Eastern Europe, just to the west of Russia. Indeed, the most interesting takeaway for me is the dominance of nearest neighbors as the sources of immigrants throughout Europe (including Turkey), and of course the general east to west flow of the immigrants. Even Spain and France fit the near neighbor profile in that the largest source countries are just across the Mediterranean from them. Portugal and the U.K. are the major outliers, but in both cases the largest single stock of immigrants is from a former colony.

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