Students quantify immigrants' worth for Danish exports

Foreign labour represents a lot of unexploited potential in the Danish business community. A new Master's thesis from Aarhus University, Business and Social Sciences, shows that a single immigrant can generate exports of DKK 166,000.

2012.03.30 | Camilla Hyldmar Knudsen

In a new thesis, two students from Aarhus University, Business and Social Sciences, are demonstrating that Denmark could generate billions of kroners' worth of exports by making the most of the competencies and knowledge possessed by immigrants.

According to their findings, an increase in immigrant numbers of approx. 12,000 persons will lead to an increase in exports of more than DKK 2 billion, equating to approx. DKK 166,000 per immigrant. The boost in exports can be achieved through the optimised use of the growing numbers of foreigners in the country. The reason is that immigrants possess unique knowledge about their native countries which can help lower trade barriers and friction in the export markets.

- Their competencies represent considerable unexploited potential just waiting to be realised by Danish companies. By tapping into the resources possessed by our immigrants, businesses can enter new markets far more easily, says Simon Weinberger, a student on the MSc in International Economic Consulting programme.

Together with Samuel Michael Olsen he is behind the Master's thesis entitled "Immigrants as Economic Integrators – Evidence from Denmark". The two students defended their findings at their Masters's exam on Wednesday 28 March. Here they were rewarded with the top mark 12.

So far, seeing immigrants as a resource which can be used to increase Danish exports has not been a focal point, neither among politicians nor in the business community.

- In Denmark, immigration is regarded as an economic burden for society. We must change this perception and instead focus on immigration as part of the solution to the economic challenges which Denmark is facing, says Samuel Michael Olsen.

Learning from Sweden

In their thesis, Simon Weinberger and Samuel Michael Olsen are looking at how other countries have succeeded in making the most of the immigration potential, and the Swedes, in particular, have come a long way.

- In Sweden, they focus on establishing immigration networks to organise the competencies and knowledge possessed by immigrants, thereby providing access to their insights, says Simon Weinberger. He explains that businesses are able to search for exactly the competencies which they need to enter a particular market.

Both Simon Weinberger and Samuel Michael Olsen see this as the perfect solution.

- The knowledge and the competencies possessed by immigrants must be brought together, organised and made available to Danish companies. The purpose is to link Danish companies and foreign workers, thereby increasing the dissemination of information, explains Samuel Michael Olsen.

Straightforward

The two future graduates have the full support of their supervisor, Philipp Schröder, Professor of Economics at Aarhus University, Business and Social Sciences:

- The thesis points to an extremely straightforward way of promoting Danish exports, says Philipp Schröder, who is full of praise of the two students' efforts:

- It is impressive that our students have been able to create such tangible results. They are contributing to the public debate by telling us about something which offers very considerable potential. This is not something which you can look up in a book, says Philipp Schröder.

Further information

 

Philipp Schröder, Professor of Economics
Aarhus University, Business and Social Sciences
Department of Economics and Business:
Tel.: +45 8948 6392
Mobile: +45 2311 9527
Email: psc@asb.dk
Web

Samuel Michael Olsen, student of International Economic Consulting
Tel.: +45 2287 1895
Email: sambo2708@hotmail.com

Simon Weinberger, student of International Economic Consulting
Tel.: +45 2395 5764
Email: weinberger84@gmail.com

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