Journal Article

From Low-Skilled to Key Workers: The Implications of Emergencies for Immigration Policy

Published 20 May 2020 / By Mariña Fernández-Reino, Madeleine Sumption, Carlos Vargas-Silva

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Introduction

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased public awareness of the extent to which the economy relies on a low-wage workforce. Many of those lower-waged occupations that have been recognised as essential in the emergency are heavily dependent on migrant workers. We explore the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for future immigration policies and provide an example using data for the UK. We suggest that there are three key considerations for governments in this context. First, whether the management of emergencies themselves requires a certain type of immigration policy. Second, whether the experience of the current pandemic brings to light new information about the ‘value’ of certain types of immigration. Finally, whether immigration is the right response to pandemic-driven increases in labour demand.

Citation

Fernández-Reino, M., Sumption, M., & Vargas-Silva, C. (2020) From Low-Skilled to Key Workers: The Implications of Emergencies for Immigration Policy, Oxford Review of Economic Policy; https://doi.org/10.1093/oxrep/graa016