A detailed analysis of eight popular assumptions about migration shows that they have no basis in fact and that the opposite is frequently the truth.
Europe’s share of the world’s population has halved to just 7% since the mid-1950s, and the pace is likely to be even faster over the next few decades, leaving the continent without a say globally.
The number of babies born is exceeded by the number of deaths, and any growth last year in the EU was accounted for by migrants.
In just 15 years, half of Europeans will be over the age of 65 years and the numbers under 45 will drop by a quarter.
This means that countries will not be able to afford their health and pension systems unless there is an influx of new workers, according to the report published by the migration policy centre in the European University in Florence.
For Ireland, which has the highest birth rate in the EU, its workforce will be reduced by 10% over the next 10 years without the arrival of migrants.
The worst-affected countries would be Spain and Italy, whose workforce would be reduced by 30%, leaving Italy in particular with one of the oldest populations in the EU in a dire situation.
The evidence shows that migrants do not deprive local people of jobs, as they migrate to where there is work, and leave when it dries up.
“Migrants are not stupid. The research shows that they go to a country because there is work available,” said Philippe Fargues, director of the Migration Policy Centre.
A graph showed that the highest level of migration in the EU was in 2007/2008 when unemployment was at its lowest, and it has dropped since, in line with growing joblessness.
Claims that migrants undermine a country’s welfare system are also wrong as they tend to be young, healthy and hardworking and contribute more than they take from the system. In Ireland they break even.
Migrants appear to improve a country’s capacity to innovate, according to the study, as the greater the number of migrants in a country, the more patents for new products it tends to produce. In education, the performance of children of migrants depends on the resources they are provided with, the study finds.
In Ireland, Portugal and Britain, children from mixed-race couples perform much better than natives or migrant children.
Presenting the study, Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said that migration will define how Europe will evolve in the coming years.
“We have to set our policies based on facts and evidence, not on impressions and myths.
“Countering stereotypes on migration and recognising the contribution migrants bring to our societies demands strong political leadership.
“We have to act to counter xenophobic and racist influences on political agendas in EU countries. Europe cannot afford to ignore the benefits of immigration and to undermine Europe’s recovery from the crisis”.
Their work also debunks the idea that Europe does not need low-skilled migrant workers and should concentrate on highly skilled employees.
The study found that the needs differ in different countries.