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Considering intra-EU migration and countries’ net inflows

The authors here review the latest EU migration figures. Southern, eastern, and central Europe have broadly experienced net losses in cumulative intra

Publishing date
28 March 2019

The popular narrative around intra-EU migration says that young people (aged 20-24) are migrating from southern, eastern, and central Europe and arriving in western and northern Europe.

The numbers from Table 1 (below) show that this narrative is true. There are two notable exceptions, in Denmark and Finland, which both saw a net loss in intra-EU migration of young people.  The column on the right shows that for intra-EU migration of young people from 2013-2017, the biggest cumulative net gains were seen in Germany (492,000) – far ahead of the next-biggest gains, seen in Sweden (24,000). The biggest net losses were seen in in Poland (–268,000) and Spain (–136,000); no surprises here.

The column on the left shows that, when all migrants are considered – including those from non-EU countries – for the years 2008-2017 most of Southern Europe still experienced a cumulative gain in migration flows, in contrast with most of eastern and central Europe. The biggest gains in cumulative inflows were seen in Germany (3,791,000) and Italy (2,532,000) while the biggest losses were in Poland (–450,000) and Lithuania (–295,000).

It is important to note that these are total numbers and the impact of losing or gaining, for example, 100,000 people will be greater on a country with a small population base than on a country with a large population base.

A few more interesting insights from the table: both Belgium and the Netherlands experienced positive net inflows in intra-EU migration for ages 20-34, but overall experienced negative inflows in intra-EU migrations. Denmark experienced the opposite, with negative intra-EU inflows for ages 20-34, but overall positive net inflows for intra-EU migration. However, this table cannot show us what is behind these differences in inflows.

About the authors

  • Jan Mazza

    Jan, an Italian and Polish citizen, is a research assistant at Bruegel. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Economics and Political Science and a Master's degree in Economics, both from the University of Bologna, and a Master of Science in Economics and Philosophy from the London School of Economics. During his studies, he also spent a semester at the University Paris-2 Panthéon-Assas and one at the Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich.

    Before joining Bruegel he was a trainee at the European Commission (DG Budget) and at the Brussels office of Assonime, the association of Italian joint stock companies.

    His research interests include European governance, international economics, monetary and fiscal policy.
    Jan is fluent in Italian, English and French and has a good knowledge of Spanish.

  • Akira Soto

    Prior to joining Bruegel, he completed an internship at Amazon as a HR data analyst. As a student, Akira was a student assistant for Utrecht University and worked on the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Survey Netherlands project. He also completed an internship at the Institute of Employment Research (IAB) in Nuremberg.

    Akira holds a MSc in Sociology and Social Research from Utrecht University and Bachelor’s degrees in Social Sciences from California State University Monterey Bay.

    His research interests include diversity and team performance, income inequality, integration of migrants, and food waste.

    He is a Spanish and American citizen, speaks English and has a good knowledge of Spanish.

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