After the Promised Land

Rising anti-immigrant populism in Europe and the US has concealed an important new trend: migration to both has largely stalled. That reversal is one of the great under-reported stories of 2011 (and of the preceding two years), and the numbers are startling.

LONDON – At the height of the Arab uprisings last spring, many Europeans were gripped by nightmare visions of a tsunami of migrants crashing against the continent’s shores. The wave never hit, but its specter fed a tenacious anti-immigrant populism that has concealed an important new trend: migration to Europe – and to the United States – has largely stalled. In many countries, more immigrants are leaving than are arriving, owing mainly to the economic crisis that has drained jobs in the West.

That reversal is one of the great under-reported stories of 2011 (and of the preceding two years), and the numbers are startling. Consider Spain, which is on track to lose more than a half-million residents by 2020. By contrast, between 2002 and 2008, Spain’s population grew by 700,000 a year, driven largely by immigration. The trends are similar elsewhere in Europe.

While this fact alone will not quiet opponents of immigration, it does give countries more breathing room to repair and strengthen badly broken systems for receiving and integrating newcomers. Although rapidly aging Western countries are unable to attract the immigrants they need, they allow millions who are already there to suffer discrimination and abuse. Detentions and deportations take place under sometimes terrible conditions. Meanwhile, the international community collectively fails to protect vast populations of vulnerable migrants, such as the millions stranded by the recent conflicts in North Africa.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.

required

Log in

http://prosyn.org/uwJAyJE;
  1. An employee works at a chemical fiber weaving company VCG/Getty Images

    China in the Lead?

    For four decades, China has achieved unprecedented economic growth under a centralized, authoritarian political system, far outpacing growth in the Western liberal democracies. So, is Chinese President Xi Jinping right to double down on authoritarianism, and is the “China model” truly a viable rival to Western-style democratic capitalism?

  2. The assembly line at Ford Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

    Whither the Multilateral Trading System?

    The global economy today is dominated by three major players – China, the EU, and the US – with roughly equal trading volumes and limited incentive to fight for the rules-based global trading system. With cooperation unlikely, the world should prepare itself for the erosion of the World Trade Organization.

  3. Donald Trump Saul Loeb/Getty Images

    The Globalization of Our Discontent

    Globalization, which was supposed to benefit developed and developing countries alike, is now reviled almost everywhere, as the political backlash in Europe and the US has shown. The challenge is to minimize the risk that the backlash will intensify, and that starts by understanding – and avoiding – past mistakes.

  4. A general view of the Corn Market in the City of Manchester Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

    A Better British Story

    Despite all of the doom and gloom over the United Kingdom's impending withdrawal from the European Union, key manufacturing indicators are at their highest levels in four years, and the mood for investment may be improving. While parts of the UK are certainly weakening economically, others may finally be overcoming longstanding challenges.

  5. UK supermarket Waring Abbott/Getty Images

    The UK’s Multilateral Trade Future

    With Brexit looming, the UK has no choice but to redesign its future trading relationships. As a major producer of sophisticated components, its long-term trade strategy should focus on gaining deep and unfettered access to integrated cross-border supply chains – and that means adopting a multilateral approach.

  6. The Year Ahead 2018

    The world’s leading thinkers and policymakers examine what’s come apart in the past year, and anticipate what will define the year ahead.

    Order now