Before the pandemic, continuously increasing flows of migration were being registered. In fact, by 2020, one in five people across the OECD countries were immigrants. The experience shows us that immigrants are more affected by economic crises. Is this the case with the covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent economic crisis?
Firstly, looking at the impact on health, according to OECD, in some countries the infection risk of an immigrant is at least twice as high as that of a native-born. This can be explained by the poor housing conditions and the higher likelihood of living in higher density buildings and neighborhoods. As an example, according to a study by the Portuguese National Institute of Public Health, in Lisbon, 24% of COVID-19 infections were in immigrants (mainly from Africa), while foreign-born represent around 11% of the population of the Capital-City Metropolitan area.
Secondly, looking at the impact on the labor market, immigrants are usually in a more vulnerable position either because of the lower job stability or seniority. In addition, they are overrepresented in the sectors most affected by the pandemic such as the hospitality industry. The figure below provides an overview of the percentage point increase in unemployment rates comparing data from 2020 with the corresponding data from the same period of 2019.
Finally, looking at the impact on education of immigrant’s children, school closures and distance learning have hit these children heavily. In fact, their parents tend to have fewer resources to help them, and 40% of native-born children of immigrants do not speak the host-country language at home. Moreover, they are also less likely to have access to a computer and an internet connection at home or a quiet place for study. (OECD, 2020)
Summing up, immigrants are being more affected by covid-19 pandemic either in health and labor market, but also their children in what concerns access to education. In this way, the right policies must be taken to reduce the gap between the impact of covid-19 on foreign-born and native-born.
- OECD, 19 October 2020, What is the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on immigrants and their children?, https://www.oecd.org/coronavirus/policy-responses/what-is-the-impact-of-the-covid-19-pandemic-on-immigrants-and-their-children-e7cbb7de/
Student of the Bachelor’s Degree in Economics
Nova School of Business and Economics