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  • Writer's pictureJoost van Ladesteijn

Report of the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy (CPB) Analysis: "Economic dynamics and migration"

CPB report titled "Economic Dynamics and Migration," dated April 9, 2024

On April 9, 2024, the report of the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (CPB): "Economic Dynamics and Migration" was released. The report is difficult to follow and insufficiently substantiated.

The report claims to follow a "descriptive approach" (p. 4), yet, for instance, states that attracting migrants for occupations where demand is likely to decrease within a few years is "a risky strategy" (p. 16).

The goal of the report is to provide "general insights" on migration factors and limits itself to "determinants" (p. 4), but various variables are used in the report without further explanation. It variably discusses "the state of the economy" and "economic structure," and it is unclear whether, for example, a material difference is intended. Matters are simply labeled as "legal" or "economic."

Page 2 notes that "labor market policy, particularly flexibilization," influences migration. It concludes from two general international studies on p. 28: "translated into the Dutch context, this means that there is a relatively strong negative correlation between dismissal protection and the migration balance for EU citizens." The researchers suggest this is plausible but fail to make it sufficiently plausible, already because they neglect to elaborate on what they understand by "the Dutch context," as well as in relation to other European countries. In short: against which situation they (comparatively) test. For example, Dutch labor law based on EU legislation does not substantially differ regarding "flexible contracts" from other European countries and is generally much stricter regarding permanent contracts, including a preventive dismissal examination. Also, this is not plausible considering the conclusion of the researchers that the relationship of economic policy is complex and requires more research (p. 31). This means that repeated phrases such as "no conclusive evidence" should especially be read as there being insufficient knowledge to draw substantiated conclusions.

Page 6 states that a historical overview from 1950 to the present shows that "particularly labor migration has increased over the past twenty years." However, the researchers had no data from before 1999 (covering guest workers) and after 2022.

The recommendation about "long-term engagement" (p. 16) does not follow from the research question (p. 4) and implies that it should be prevented that migrants claim unemployment benefits.

After the EU expansion in 2004, the upward trend in migration balance (p. 26) seems to be independent of the economic cycle.

p. 31: "in principle, any policy tool that affects the chance of employment or the expected income in the Netherlands could have an effect on migration." This is meaningless and does not correspond 1-2 with the rest of the report.

This report purportedly descriptive ties too many different magnitudes together and fails to convince.

Read the report here.


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