The Economic Crisis and Labour Migration Policy in European Countries


  • Christiane Kuptsch International Migration Branch, International Labour Office



European countries, Financial and economic crisis, Labour migration, Crisis response, Restrictive policies, Migrants as workers, Role of the State


This paper reviews changes in migration policies as a response to the 2008 financial and economic crisis and examines issues of migration governance. Countries in Europe opted to make new immigration more difficult, protected their labour markets for native born workers, encouraged the return of migrant workers and intensified efforts to curb irregular migration. Clear patterns or reasons for variation in policy responses are not discernible, but it is safe to say that only countries with a significant recent influx of migrants have taken high profile measures at all. The crisis has led to a shift in perspective of the State and its role in economics which is now seen as useful instead of undesired. Previously prevailing neo-liberal thought relegated the State to the “high politics” of sovereignty and security issues. The crisis has highlighted labour market issues, and migrants are now increasingly portrayed as economic agents instead of security threats. This offers room for the State to assert its protective role vis-à-vis migrant workers – a welcome development. The analysis has an International Relations/Political Economy perspective and is largely based on (official) news releases and secondary sources.



How to Cite

Kuptsch, C. 2012. The Economic Crisis and Labour Migration Policy in European Countries. Comparative Population Studies. 37, 1-2 (Aug. 2012). DOI: