Migration Policy and Industrial Structure: The Case of Switzerland
Article first published online: 6 MAY 2008
© 2008 The Authors Journal Compilation © 2008 IOM
Volume 46, Issue 2, pages 81–107, June 2008
How to Cite
Becker, L., Liebig, T. and Sousa-Poza, A. (2008), Migration Policy and Industrial Structure: The Case of Switzerland. International Migration, 46: 81–107. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2435.2008.00445.x
- Issue published online: 6 MAY 2008
- Article first published online: 6 MAY 2008
Structural change in OECD countries, emphasizing knowledge-based sectors, has led to an increasing demand for highly skilled labour. One means of meeting this demand has been to implement a selective immigration policy. Such policies, however, have been criticized for channelling labour into low-producing sectors and occupations, hampering structural change. Proponents of such criticism point to Switzerland's former policy of channelling immigrants into so-called seasonal sectors, a practice abandoned in the early 1990s, as having contributed to Switzerland's low growth rates. To assess this, we here analyse the amended migration policy's effects on skill structure and sectoral distribution of immigration flows using data from the Swiss Census of 1990 and 2000 to determine whether the new policy has led to an immigrant inflow more adapted to the processes of structural change.
We find that the share of highly skilled immigrants has increased notably under the new migration policy. Our analysis also shows an important change in the sectoral focus of the new arrival inflow. Not only have fewer immigrants been entering declining sectors, but the majority of migrants arriving under the new policy regime have been absorbed into growing and knowledge-based sectors, meaning they are employed primarily in service and knowledge-intensive sectors. Overall, the analysis provides ample evidence that the current admission policy as ositively contributed to tructural change in Switzerland.