Should Germany have built a new wall? Macroeconomic lessons from the 2015-18 refugee wave

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This research uses economic data modelling to look at whether the arrival of large numbers of refugees in 2015-16 depressed wages in Germany. It concludes that while some low-skilled natives did suffer, this effect was more than compensated for by welfare benefits to older residents.

The researchers used data capturing the arrival of more than two million refugees and economic migrants to Germany, which was the largest recipient country for those fleeing conflict in Syria and elsewhere.

The study shows that the net wages of unskilled natives deteriorated in the short term as they were forced to compete with the largely unskilled refugees.

However, in an ageing population the net effect would be positive because the new arrivals – who tended to be young – would continue to work and make contributions to the welfare system for decades to come, the study concluded.