In this background report we review the literature on migration forecasts, evaluate
different methods for forecasting migration and present a new approach to forecast the
migration potential from the new member states (NMS) into the EU-15. There has been a
large literature attempting to forecast the migration from the NMS before enlargement.
At a long-run migration potential of about 3 to 5 per cent of the population and an influx
of between 200,000 and 300,000 persons, the mainstream of these forecasts is by and
large consistent with the actual migration movements from the NMS-8 into the EU-15,
while the migration potential from Bulgaria and Romania has been underestimated.
Moreover, these studies employed explicitly or implicitly the counterfactual assumption
that all EU-15 countries will open their labour markets at the same time, such that they
were not able to forecast the substantial changes in regional migration patterns which
took place after EU enlargement. While this literature had to rely on coefficients from
other countries, the post-Enlargement migration enables us to exploit information on
recent migration stocks and flows for forecasts of the migration potential. However, the
selective application of transitional arrangements for the free movement of workers has
distorted bilateral migration patterns, such that the coefficients derived from bilateral
migration movements are likely to be biased. We therefore refer to the EU-15 as a single
destination which allows us to circumvent this problem. Moreover, we use information on
migration stocks and flows within the EU countries to estimate the migration potential
under the conditions of free movement. Based on this approach, we estimate the longrun
migration potential from the NMS-8 at about 6 per cent of the population in the
sending countries, and the migration potential from the NMS-2 (Bulgaria and Romania)
at about 14 per cent of the population in the sending countries. The short-run net inflow
of migrants from the NMS-8 is estimated to be at about 240,000 persons p.a., and that
from the NMS-2 at about 190,000 persons p.a. These net inflows may decline in the
course of the financial crisis, since immigration and return migration are largely
determined by the conditions in host countries.
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