Policy brief

The global race for talent: Europe's migration challenge

In an ageing world with demographic and economic imbalances, the number of international migrants is likely to rise during the twenty-first century. T

Publishing date
03 March 2014
Rainer Münz

In an ageing world with demographic and economic imbalances, the number of international migrants is likely to rise during the twenty-first century. The geography of migration flows is changing, however. Mobile people will be increasingly attracted by faster-growing economies. Therefore, some traditional destinations in western Europe will face stronger competition for skilled labour – not least from countries like China where the working-age population will shrink after 2020. At the same time, the sentiment in many European receiving societies is turning against migration and intra-European Union mobility.

In the short run, Europe needs more labour mobility between EU member states given excessively high unemployment reported in some regions, while others face a shortage of skills. In the long run this will not be sufficient to close gaps in European labour markets. But many Europeans are not ready to accept more international migrants, and give their support to political parties with restrictive agendas. This creates at least three challenges. First: organising political majorities in favour of more proactive migration policies. Second: making Europe more attractive for mobile people with talent and skills. Third: moving away from unilateral migration policies towards negotiated win-win solutions aiming at reducing the costs of, and enhancing the welfare gains from, migration and remittances

About the authors

  • Rainer Münz

    Rainer Münz was a Non-Resident Fellow at Bruegel. He is now a special adviser on Migration and Demography at the European Political Strategy Centre (EPSC). Rainer was also  Head of Research & Knowledge Center at Erste Group, a major retail bank, and Senior Fellow at the Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI).

    He is an expert on population change, international migration and demographic aging, their economic impact and their implications for retail banking and social security systems. He studied at Vienna University, where he earned his PhD in 1978. In 1979 he joined the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Until 1992 he was director of the Institute of Demography at the Austrian Academy of Science. Between 1992 and 2003 he was head of the Department of Demography at Humboldt University, Berlin. He was visiting professor at the Universities of Bamberg (1986), University of California at Berkeley (1986, 1989, 1997-98), Frankfurt (1988), Klagenfurt (1996, 1998), Vienna (2001-02) and Zurich (1992). He  was also a Senior Research Fellow at the Department of the Mathematics of Finance, Vienna Technical University (2001-2002). Since 2010 he teaches at the University of St. Gallen (HSG).

    In addittion to his academic positions, Rainer Münz has worked as a consultant for the European Commission, the OECD and the World Bank. He served as an advisor to the Greek (2003), Dutch (2004) and Slovene (2008) EU presidencies. In 2000-01 he was a member of the German commission on immigration reform (Süssmuth commission). Between 2008 and 2010 he was a Member of the high level “Reflection Group Horizon 2020-2030” of the European Union (so-called EU “Group of the Wise”).

    Rainer Münz is a member of several boards and advisory boards; among them: Center for Migration, Integration and Citizenship at Oxford University (COMPAS, Oxford, UK), European Policy Centre (Brussels), European Forum Alpbach, Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe (Vienna), International Metropolis Project (Ottawa – Amsterdam), International Organization for Migration (IOM, Geneva), SOT Accountants (Vienna-Graz-Munich), STUWO AG (Vienna), Vienna City Museum, and the World Demographic and Aging Forum (WDA, St. Gallen).

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