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Scholar: Migrants a Short-term Cost, Long-term Help to Economy

  • Jim Randle

Refugees and migrants push each other as they try to board a bus following their arrival onboard the Eleftherios Venizelos passenger ship at the port of Piraeus, near Athens, Greece, Sept. 7, 2015.

Refugees and migrants push each other as they try to board a bus following their arrival onboard the Eleftherios Venizelos passenger ship at the port of Piraeus, near Athens, Greece, Sept. 7, 2015.

The flood of refugees from Syria and other war-torn nations toward wealthy parts of Europe could, eventually, be good for the economies of Germany and some other nations, according to a scholar at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Some other economists have been questioning whether Europe's economy can sustain the rapid influx.

Jacob Kirkegaard says last year about 1 million migrants arrived in Europe, and this year may see a surge of hundreds of thousands of new arrivals.

He says there is a significant short-term cost of feeding, housing and giving language training to newcomers, but adds many migrants are headed to Germany, a wealthy nation that can afford these burdens.

Aging populations

Kirkegaard, who researches economic, strategic and immigration issues in Washington, says Germany and some other European nations have aging populations and need a renewed workforce to continue economic growth.

Most migrants are relatively young, hope to get jobs, and will end up paying taxes to their host governments, he says. "In the aggregate, in terms of the functioning and size of the overall economy, this is in my opinion, (an) unambiguous net benefit."

In an interview first posted on YouTube, he says Germanys' strong economy has many jobs, making it unlikely that newcomers will take employment from Germans.

Kirkegaard says migrants are often willing to take jobs shunned by native-born workers who have alternatives. He also says spending to help care for migrants will help stimulate Europe's faltering economy.

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