International migration dropped dramatically in 2020 due to Covid-19, says OECD

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The flow of immigrants to developed countries fell to its fastest rate at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic last year, the OECD’s club of leading economies said in a report on Thursday.

About 3.7 million people immigrated last year to the 38 major developed and emerging economies that make up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the lowest level since 2003, the OECD said in its annual migration report.

“The COVID-19 crisis caused the steepest recorded drop in migratory flows to the OECD, of more than 30 percent,” the report adds.

The number of new immigrants to the United States, the top migration destination in the OECD, fell 44 percent to 576,000 when the country slammed its borders to stop the spread of the virus.

France received 230,000 new immigrants, 21 percent less.

All migration categories were affected by the health crisis, according to the report, the first to show the impact of Covid for a full year.

The number of new asylum applications dropped by 31 percent, the biggest drop since the Balkan wars of the early 1990s.

Immigrants were also disproportionately affected by the employment crisis triggered by the pandemic last year, with the share in employment falling 2.1 percentage points in 2020 to around two-thirds, according to the report.

“The economic crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic has ended 10 years of continuous progress in immigrant labor market outcomes,” the Paris-based club said.


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