By Emma Vandore
The Associated Press
PARIS (AP) — Immigration to rich countries dropped during the global economic crisis, reversing five years of annual increases as the demand for labor fell, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said on June 12.
A report showed that 4.4 million people migrated to the OECD’s 31 member countries — the world’s most developed economies — in 2008. That is a drop of about 6 percent from the year before.
The fall comes after five years of annual increases of 11 percent, the OECD said in its International Migration Outlook 2010.
National data suggest that international migration fell again in 2009.
China, Poland, India and Mexico topped the list of countries left by migrants in 2008, the OECD said.
Historical, economic and family ties shape the destination of choice.
Around half of migrants went to Europe, a third to North America, 10 percent to Japan and Korea, and 8 percent to Australia and New Zealand, the OECD said.
While Mexicans tend to go to the U.S. and Poles to other European countries, more than one half of Chinese migrants went to Japan or Korea, the report said.
Unemployment among male immigrants has risen more than among native counterparts because many immigrants worked in industries badly hit by the crisis, such as construction, hotels and restaurants, the OECD said. Still, few are returning home, it said.
In some countries, employment of female immigrants has risen as women take jobs to make up for lost income of their unemployed spouses, it said.
But OECD chief Angel Gurria warned governments against toughening immigration policies because migrant labor will be needed to fill shortages as the economy cranks back up.
“Current economic difficulties will not change long-term demographic trends and should not be used as an excuse to overly restrict immigration,“ he said in a statement.
Without an increase in current migration rates, the working-age population in OECD countries will increase by only 1.9 percent in the next 10 years, according to the Paris-based institution’s calculations.
That compares with an 8.6 percent increase between 2000 and 2010.
The number of asylum seekers rose to 355,000 in 2008, an increase of about 14 percent.