This piece was originally produced for the Perry World House Global Shifts Colloquium and made possible (in part) by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York to Perry World House at the University of Pennsylvania. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the author(s).
Migrant workers contribute critically to the resilience of countries and sectors during times of crises. A key factor determining the resilience of systems is their flexibility, implying that in times of crisis, labor mobility becomes especially relevant. In all times, but particularly in times of uncertainty and crisis, flexibility and the ability of workers to safely move where they are needed is critical to the adjustment of the economy. Evidence from the European Union (EU) during the Great Recession suggests that migrant workers responded to changing labor shortages across EU states, occupations, and sectors more fluidly than native-born workers and this flexibility allowed them to contribute to stabilizing labor markets during and after the crisis.