The Strategist

What is the weight of economic immigration in France?

08/23/2018 - 16:58

258,900 immigrants arrived in France on a permanent basis in 2016. 10.8% of them came for economic reasons (against 38% in the context of family reunification). Economic immigrants from non-European countries mainly come from the United States, Morocco and Tunisia. Among Europeans, it is mainly about the Portuguese, the British and the Spaniards.

A few weeks ago, Poland stated that it would like to accept Filipino workers due to an increasingly acute shortage of labor. "Our country is close to them in terms of culture, in particular because of the Catholic faith," said Deputy Minister of Labor Stanislaw Szwed. The country’s government stressed that it is mainly about highly skilled workers, in particular for IT enterprises, medicine and construction.

In this regard, Le Figaro conducted an analysis of economic immigration in France, as this issue often raises heated debates. What is its share in total immigration and from where do foreign workers come? In which industries do they work? The OECD report "International Migration Outlook 2018" and last year's report "Employment of Foreign Workers: France in 2017", which appeared in June, make it possible to form a more accurate picture of the situation in this issue.

In 2016, 258,900 "permanent" immigrants arrived in France, including 10.8% for economic reasons.

According to the latest OECD data, France accepted 258,900 "permanent" migrants in 2016. The organization noted that "these immigrants get a residence permit, which they can easily extend." In other words, they come to France for a long time.

Of these 258,900 people, 38% or 98,400 came for family reunification, which is the main channel for immigration to the country. It is followed by grounds such as free movement within the European Union (33.6% or 86,900), employment (10.8% or 27,900), humanitarian reasons (9% or 23,200) and "other" grounds (8, 7% or 22,500). In other words, economic immigration occupies a small part of "permanent immigration". Whatever it was, everything is not so simple with a figure of 10.8%. The fact is that about half of those who arrive within the framework of free movement in the EU do so for the purpose of work.

If we look the Eurostat data (it uses a different methodology and divides immigration by family, educational and economic reasons), the same tendency persists among "permanent" immigrants: the minority is guided by economic motives. So, from 2008 to 2016, France issued 1.9 million residence permits (for a period of three years), of which only 9% are related to economic activity (but 47% are for family reunification).

In 2016, 93,000 "temporary" immigrants arrived in France, of which 24% were workers.

As for "temporary" immigrants (this is the concept used by the OECD), in 2016 there were 93,000 of them in France: 22,000 workers (24%) and 71,000 students (76%). As the OECD specified, "a significant number of these migrants change their status and receive a long-term residence permit." In particular, this applies to students, many of whom stay to live and work in a new country. In other words, students can move from temporary immigrants to permanent ones for a year.

If we add up figures for permanent and temporary migrants, it turns out that France accepted 351,900 people in 2016. 49,900 or 14% of them are economic migrants. Be that as it may, the figure of 351,900 does not include workers from other EU countries (203,000, according to OECD figures), refugees (in 2016, asylum applications were filed by 77,000 people) and illegal immigrants (from 178,000 to 354,000, according to OECD).

The report "Employment of foreign workers: France in 2017" allows to establish their geographical origin (this applies to countries outside the EU). Thus, immigrants who arrived in France from 2007 to 2015 for economic reasons, primarily came from the United States, Morocco, Tunisia, Mali and India.

"Algerians and Moroccans account for about 12% of the issued residence permits, followed by the Chinese and Tunisians (7% each)," the OECD report says. In addition, "family reunification permits concern representatives of fewer nationalities, since three states (Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia) account for 45%."

At the same time, "this concentration is much lower in the category of economic migrants and students, where the first three countries account for about a third of the issued permits (the USA, Morocco and Tunisia - in the economic category, China, Morocco and Algeria - in the student category). The greatest diversification is seen in the humanitarian category, where the first three countries (Sri Lanka, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Russia) account for less than a quarter of the permits."

As for those immigrants who come in thanks to the free movement right (86,000 people, as mentioned earlier), OECD data do not allow distributing nationalities on motives. However, if we take the entire volume of intra-European immigrants (not focusing on economic migration), most of the migrants from 2009 to 2013 were Portuguese, British, Spanish, Italian and Romanian.

The Eurostat figures mentioned in the OECD report indicate that immigrants are very widely represented in some areas of the French economy, such as construction, transportation and restaurant business. In addition, the distribution of migrants by industry depends on their geographical origin (European or non-European).

Finally, data from the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Research for 2008 indicate that the motive for immigration affects employment. "Immigrants from third countries who reported intention to come to France for work show higher employment (64%) than those who arrived in the framework of family reunification (45%) and for study (34%). Regardless of the motivation for immigration, employment indicators are growing along with the length of stay," the OECD noted.