I’m sure that you have all heard about the migrant crisis in Europe that is still ongoing. However, last year the numbers of people trekking across the continent and crammed into overcrowded, dangerous boats was staggering. Now some of the numbers are coming to light of the change in European states’ population make-up over the past year. The Pew Research Center has analysed the change in the percentage of European nations’ population that is “foreign-born”, drawing on UN and Eurostat data.

From July 2015 to May 2016, more than one million people applied for asylum in Europe. (I assume that the data is available only for those migrants who are officially recognised and not those who have “vanished”.) First off, this number of one million in all of Europe seems low: didn’t over one million claim asylum in Germany alone last year? Perhaps it is down to the time frame…Anyway, during the time in question, the foreign born populations of four European countries grew at one percent or over: Sweden (an increase of 1.5% to 18.3%); Hungary (1.3% up to 5.8%); Austria (1.1% up to 18.5%); and Norway (1% up to 15.3%). As the Pew Research Centre notes, this may not seem like a lot, but the immigrant share of the population in the United States grew by one percent over a decade (13% in 2005 to 14% in 2015). A one percent increase in a single year is rare, particularly in the West. Other significant rises were seen in Finland (up 0.8% to 6.5%), Switzerland (up 0.8% to 30.1%), Belgium (up 0.8% to 13%) and Germany (up 0.7% to 15.6%).

At the other end, five European nations saw the foreign born proportion of their populations decline slightly: Lithuania; Spain; Slovenia; Estonia; and Latvia. Slovenia is interesting since it lies right on the route between the Balkans and Germany; its attempts to shut down its borders were obviously successful. Apparently many of the foreign born Latin Americans returned home from Spain last year and many of the ageing immigrant community in the Baltic states are starting to die.

Overall, the increase across all countries surveyed was 0.3%, bringing the average foreign born proportion to 11.3%. This proportion is significantly lower than some other nations. For example, 22% of Canada’s population is foreign born, 25% in New Zealand, 28% of Australia’s, 75% of Qatar’s (as we saw last week), and a whopping 88% of the UAE’s. The only European country with comparable numbers is Switzerland with 30.1%; the next is Austria with 18.5%. However, whether the European continent can continue to change into a collection of nations of immigrants (like Canada, Australia, New Zealand) at the current rate is doubtful without major problems is doubtful.

Marcus Roberts

Marcus Roberts was two years out of law school when he decided that practising law was no longer for him. He therefore went back to university and did his LLM while tutoring. He now teaches contract and...