Refugee immigration and the growth of low-wage work in the EU15

Our paper focuses on current trends in refugee migration and job polarization. In so doing, we assess the role of refugee migration in relation to institutional, technologicalty 1 and globalization factors in an effort to trace the factors underlying the growth of low-paying occupations in EU 15 between 1995 and 2017. Our empirical findings suggest that refugee migration has a small but positive and statistically significant impact on the growth of low-wage occupations in the EU 15 as a whole. However, the effect is attributed to Southern Europe and the UK and Irish economies. Despite hosting relatively large numbers of refugee migrants, the effects in the Nordic countries and Continental Europe are negligible, if present, and non-existent in the long run (5 years). When including all migrant workers, we find a limited impact on the growth of low-wage work in general, while the impact of immigrant workers from low-income third party countries becomes positive for the UK and Irish economy, but less for other European macro-regions. This suggests that institutional settings can play an important role in how the economy adjusts to migration. It also suggests that traditional fiscal cost calculations in relation to migration are often overestimated, as they implicitly build on the assumption that refugees and general immigration have great impacts on the growth of low-wage occupations.