KNOMAD  > Thematic working groups >  Demographic changes and migration

Demographic changes and migration




The aging of industrial countries and the relatively young populations of many developing countries will generate substantial pressures for international migration over the coming years.  At the same time, migration can have an important impact on demographic variables (for good and ill), including fertility, child mortality, and the spread of infectious diseases.  More research and information sharing on the interaction between demography and migration would help policymakers respond effectively to the pressures that are likely to emerge, especially regarding immigration control in destination countries, and health, education and skills training systems in countries of origin. 

Most of the research in this area has focused mainly on the OECD countries, and in particular on the implications for OECD countries as migrant-receiving countries. There are few studies that analyze the welfare implications for migrant-sending countries.  Moreover, there has been very little analysis of the welfare implications and policy choices for developing countries that are destinations of migrants from other developing countries.  Some of these developing countries (such as China, Russia and parts of Latin America) will face labor shortages in the coming decades (World Bank Africa Migration Report, 2011).  

This thematic working group will aim to contribute to the analysis of welfare and development implications for both migrant-receiving and sending countries in the South and in the North.

Key Questions

  1. What are the explicit and/or implicit assumptions about migration (such as places, direction, and composition) underpinning the main demographic projections used by policymakers, social security administrations, business, and academia?
  2. How do these assumptions about future migration relate to available empirical evidence on the interaction between migration and flows/stocks, macro-economic developments, demographic change, labor markets, and political regimes?
  3. What is the expected composition by gender, age, skills, employment sector, and duration of stay of projected migration?  How does this relate to FDI, local capital formation, liberalization of trade and services, and investment climate, which affect demand for labor and skills in migrant sending countries?

Planned Activities

  • Compile key demographic forecasts from entities like UN-DESA, Eurostat, US Census, and national level projections in France, Germany, Russia, and the UK (initially).
  • Identify explicit and underlying migration assumptions about the size of gross/net flows, and the composition by age, employment sector and gender.  Analyze the long-term divergence/convergence of underlying migration trends.
  • Engage in discussions about these assumptions with experts and the forecasting agencies involved.
  • Develop recommendations for improving future projections based on new empirical evidence and theoretical generalizations. Review the existing literature explaining migration flows as a result of demographic change, wage differentials, macro-economic developments, availability of skills, size of already established Diasporas, historical links between sending and receiving countries, and migration policy regimes.
  • Identify knowledge and data gaps.
  • Commission research addressing these knowledge gaps.
  • Organize an informed debate about root causes and consequences of migration in light of the findings.
  • Undertake a mapping exercise on the availability of data on the composition of migration flows (size, gender, age, origin/destination, duration of stay, skills) and its impact on population structure in sending and receiving countries.
  • Commission research analyzing the key factors influencing the direction and composition of migration flows and their impact.
  • Relate the results of this research to FDI and local capital formation in migrant sending countries, influencing domestic demand for labor and skills.
  • Organize an informed debate about the composition of migration in light of the findings.