Active Population Growth and Immigration Hypotheses in Western Europe

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Abstract

The paper examines, in respect of twelve Western European countries over a period of twenty years, the widely held view that any decline in their working population should be offset by greater reliance on immigrant labour.

This research, based on demographic projections and forecasts regarding labour market participation rates by age and sex for each of the countries concerned, focuses on the two most likely scenarios. It appears that only Italy will be faced with a fall in its working population. All other western countries will either maintain the same level or, more generally, see their workforce grow substantially. Accordingly, we may safely assert that there is no risk of a shortage of workers between now and the year 2020, and that an increasing supply of labour will render reliance on a greater influx of immigrant workers unnecessary.

The second part analyses changes in the structure of the demand for labour. We deal chiefly with the phenomenon of the concentration of foreign manpower in each sector, its flexibility and mobility in a context of unemployment, as well as the impact of new technologies and globalisation on the main determinants of international migration of labour.