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"The Global Economic Crisis as a Critical Juncture? The crisis’s impact on migration movements and policies in Europe and the U.S."

Christof Roos, Natascha Zaun

Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 42 (10), 2016

The current global economic crisis has resulted in the strongest recession in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries since the Great Depression in the early 1930s and the 1970s oil shocks. This special issue sets out to explore how the most recent economic crisis impacted immigration and immigrationrelated policy in the U.S. and in European countries that are part of the OECD. The crisis of the late 2000s was offset by the collapse of the subprime U.S. housing market, destabilising the financial system and leading to a sovereign debt crisis. The shock was marked by a ‘sudden […] deterioration of most, or all, key macroeconomic indicators’ such as the gross domestic product (GDP) growth, the unemployment rate, the level of inflation, and the public debt (Starke, Kaasch, and van Hooren 2013, 5). The GDP in OECD countries shrank by 3.49% in 2009, whereas it previously had grown by around 2–3% annually. Additionally, the unemployment rate in the OECD rose from 5.9% of the total labour force in 2008 to more than 8% in 2009 and subsequent years. During that time, the youth unemployment rate in the European Union (EU), the number of unemployed 15–24 year olds, increased steeply from 15 to more than 20%. In countries that were heavily affected by the crisis such as Greece and Spain youth unemployment rose from 20 to over 50% between 2008 and 2012 (OECD 2016). This resulted in a decline in demand for labour force. Common wisdom holds that economic recessions and high unemployment have an impact on the decisions of migrants to move, as well as on governments to consider restrictions in immigration policy. Yet, empirical findings on the crisis–migration nexus are sometimes contradictory and while some find a clear causal link between the crisis and changes in migration patterns and policies, others refute its existence.

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