For Aging Europe, Refusing Refugees Is Bad Economics

Both Germany and Sweden, two countries that have accepted a large proportion of asylum seekers, also have strong economies.

As the EU grapples with the surge of migrants crossing into the continent, some European countries have proactively built razor wire fences, set up border controls, and shut down public transportation to combat the influx of people attempting to cross borders. If the journey wasn’t already perilous before, now Syrians, Afghans, and Eritreans are forced to take dangerous sea routes or backroads through the Balkans to reach the European nations with the most opportunity. In just one week, at least 750 migrants died.

It’s no secret that Europe has an aging population.

But this year alone, nearly 430,000 people have successfully completed the journey, and it’s unlikely, if not impossible and unethical, that they'll be sent home. So, now what?

It’s no secret that Europe has an aging population. Nations with some of the worst economies — such as Italy and Greece — also have death rates that outpace birth rates. In that light, could young, eager migrants be good for Europe’s economy?

Germany is creating jobs faster than its citizens can fill them.

According to some economists, yes. Both Germany and Sweden, two countries that have accepted a large proportion of asylum seekers, also have strong economies. In fact, Germany is creating jobs faster than its citizens can fill them. While training and education initially may be stumbling blocks for some migrants, most are young and could be more easily assimilated into many of these countries’ strong education systems, such as Finland's, or trained for skilled labor in robust markets, such as Austria's. Germany's booming industrial industry could certainly benefit, since its working age population is expected to shrink by 6 million in 2030.

The logistical question of how and where to distribute migrants is still undecided. Nevertheless, if Europe can seize this boon of youth as an opportunity, it may very well be able to seize its economic future.

Daphne Muller is a New York City-based writer who has written for Salon, Ms. Magazine, The Huffington Post, and reviewed books for ELLE and Publishers Weekly. Most recently, she completed a novel and screenplay. You can follow her on Instagram @daphonay and on Twitter @DaphneEMuller.

FREILASSING, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 16: Refugees wait at the German-Austrian border where they were stopped by the police on September 16, 2015 in Freilassing, Germany. (Photo by Lukas Barth/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Space toilets: How astronauts boldly go where few have gone before

A NASA astronomer explains how astronauts dispose of their, uh, dark matter.

  • When nature calls in micro-gravity, astronauts must answer. Space agencies have developed suction-based toilets – with a camera built in to ensure all the waste is contained before "flushing".
  • Yes, there have been floaters in space. The early days of space exploration were a learning curve!
  • Amazingly, you don't need gravity to digest food. Peristalsis, the process by which your throat and intestines squeeze themselves, actually moves food and water through your digestive system without gravity at all.
Keep reading Show less

Carl Sagan on why he liked smoking marijuana

Carl Sagan liked to smoke weed. His essay on why is fascinating.

Photo: Photo by Robert Nelson on Unsplash / Big Think
Mind & Brain
  • Carl Sagan was a life long marijuana user and closeted advocate of legalization.
  • He once wrote an anonymous essay on the effects it had on his life and why he felt it should be legalized.
  • His insights will be vital as many societies begin to legalize marijuana.
Keep reading Show less

Can the keto diet help treat depression? Here’s what the science says so far

A growing body of research shows promising signs that the keto diet might be able to improve mental health.

Photo: Public Domain
Mind & Brain
  • The keto diet is known to be an effective tool for weight loss, however its effects on mental health remain largely unclear.
  • Recent studies suggests that the keto diet might be an effective tool for treating depression, and clearing up so-called "brain fog," though scientists caution more research is necessary before it can be recommended as a treatment.
  • Any experiments with the keto diet are best done in conjunction with a doctor, considering some people face problems when transitioning to the low-carb diet.
Keep reading Show less