E.g., 04/20/2014
E.g., 04/20/2014

Emerging Demographic Patterns across the Mediterranean and their Implications for Migration through 2030

November 2008

Emerging Demographic Patterns across the Mediterranean and their Implications for Migration through 2030

The Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA) and Europe appear to be an ideal demographic match: the former has a large supply of young, active workers, and the latter has a shortage of the youthful, skilled or unskilled labor it needs to sustain its economic competitiveness. MENA is the source of 20 million first-generation migrants, half of them now living in another MENA country and most of the rest in Europe. The region also hosts around the same number within its borders. In addition, the size of MENA’s working-age population will continue to rise sharply in the next two decades while the corresponding segment of the population in Europe will soon start to decline.

The sizeable labor shortages that will affect Europe could be mitigated by migration from the MENA region, whose population is exceptionally young and mobile, more educated, and less fettered by family responsibilities than preceding generations. However, while we can forecast future changes in population size with relative accuracy, it is a much greater challenge to predict the conditions under which migration will occur.

This report looks at four triggers that could lead to emigration from MENA. First, MENA’s “youth bulge” might boost domestic economic growth since most MENA countries have a large enough working-age population to support the nonworking, older population. Second, young workers, particularly the well-educated, face poor employment conditions at home in part due to failed economic policies. Third, population density is growing to untenable levels in several MENA countries, and pressure on freshwater reserves will exacerbate this problem. Finally, unresolved conflicts may continue to cause migration within and from the region.

Table of Contents 

I. Introduction

II. Demographic Changes in the MENA Region

III. Where We Are Now: Migration in the MENA Region

IV. Migration Triggers

V. Prediction for Future Migration