Saturday, 5 February 2011

Immigration - it goes both ways

Yesterday, the Independent reported that "Britons have 'greater fear' of immigration" than other countries. Almost one in four thought that immigration was the most important issue facing the country, while 59 percent agreed there were "too many" people living in the country who were not born here.

These are dismal answers, with a strong whiff of xenophobia. However, I wonder whether these answers are really that informative. I sense that this survey was poorly constructed and did not identify the true underlying preferences of Britons.

While it might be true that Britons have a "fear of immigration", that is not the same thing as saying that they would like to stop migration altogether. Of course, Britons might "say" that want it stopped, but if the full consequences of a sudden halt to migration were laid out, who would actually vote for it? Judging by the results from last election, the answer would appear to be very few.

Here is the key thing about migration. There are inflows and outflows, and second order effects on average fertility. First, lets talk about the flows. The inward flows are huge. The UK gains around half a million people from overseas each year. However, the outward flows are also huge. The UK loses 300,000 people each year. Some of that is migrants going back and forth. However, a large part of it is Britons seeking opportunities and homes abroad.

Over the last decade, the UK population has increased. However, around 40-45 percent of that increase is due to migration. If migration were to stop, and outflows were to continue at current rates, the UK population would immediately start to shrink.

Added to that, we need to recognise that foreign born woman have higher fertility rates than their native born counterparts. In fact, one in four live births in the UK are to foreign born mothers. In other words, migrant families are carrying a disproportionate burden of the costs of creating future generations of workers.

The simple truth about migration is that the UK depends on it to ensure current and future prosperity. Lets be honest, you can't run a successful, dynamic and innovative economy with a population of geriatrics. That is what Britain would become without a steady flow of migrants and the willingness of migrant women to have large numbers of children. Britons may be fearful of immigration, but they fear declining living standards even more.


Anonymous said...

Except that if immigrants were not flooding into the country in the numbers they are, and from the countries they come from, fewer people might be so eager to emigrate, and more of them might be happy to stay and have their kids in the UK (as I was not).

Anonymous said...

Would be interesting to see an age profile of the two. My feeling is that we are exporting skills and accumulated wealth (grandparents) and importing the less skilled poorer but, importantly for HMRC, more fecund.

Glad your on the case of highlighting this but I see you are already getting a whiff if not a gale of xenophobia.

Jim said...

Personally I don't see it as xenophobic to resent the mass importation of foreign cultures at the expense of the native one. Dislike of immigration has very little to do with the colour of the skin of the immigrant, and everything to do with the refusal of immigrants to integrate with the host culture.

Everywhere but England native cultures are revered and celebrated. Here it is seen as something that we should be ashamed of, and can be denigrated and destroyed at a whim.

Laban said...

But we export young graduates, and import Somalis and Sylhetis. Does this make sense from an economic perspective, let alone a cultural one?

"There are now 3.247 million British-born people living abroad, of whom more than 1.1 million are highly-skilled university graduates, say the researchers. More than three quarters of these professionals have settled abroad for more than 10 years, according to the study by the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). No other nation is losing so many qualified people, it points out. Britain has now lost more than one in 10 of its most skilled citizens, while overall only Mexico has had more people emigrate. Britain's exodus is far higher than any of the OECD's other 29 members. Germany has lost only 860,000 highly-skilled workers, America 410,000 and France 370,000. The OECD found that 27.3 per cent of those emigrating had health or education qualifications, 37.7 per cent had humanities or social science degrees and 28.5 per cent were scientists or engineers."

Anonymous said...

The horse has already bolted on this one, we've pretty much surrendered border control to the EU, and the only thing that is preventing another wave of mass migration is our dire economic position (every cloud...)

Forget it, the UK is finished. The reckless actions of New Labour have destroyed our cultural fabric, and they've handed decision making powers to supranational bodies. This is now no longer a country, it's a social experiment; the elites want to see what happens when you rob a good natured society of their money, culture and ability to forge out their own future. Apparently we're undeserving of such privileges, we'll only abuse them.

Now, wheres my passport...

Anonymous said...

Quick challenge; how is culture determined, and what is English culture?

To start of, drinking to excess is part of English culture, living of state benefits is part of English culture. Also football, and the sunday roast too.

Anymore anyone?

Anonymous said...

Does the Ruby Murray (curry) count as English culture?

Lord shorty said...

anon 20:02

Agreed. Migrants on balance raise the quality of English culture.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 20:02

If you created a league table of UK welfare dependency by ethnicity I think you'd find that natives came nowhere near the top.

And it's "off", not "of", thicko.


Anonymous said...

"Migrant families are bearing a disproportionate burden of the costs..."

If you're referring to financial costs, that simply isn't true: the existence of the welfare state means that the burden falls on native taxpayers, whose ability to afford more children themselves is hindered by the enormous sums of tax they haved to pay(though this is of course dwarfed by the effect of ludicrously high housing costs).

"The UK depends on it to ensure current and future prosperity"

After 14 years of massive immigration we have public finances in the worst state they've ever been in in peacetime and falling per capita GDP.

If you've come across any evidence that Third World immigration either raises per capita GDP above what it would otherwise would have been,or improves the state of the public finances (i.e. that the extra taxes received by the state as a result exceeds the extra expenditure required) then I'd love to see it.


Scottie said...

You say, "If you created a league table of UK welfare dependency by ethnicity I think you'd find that natives came nowhere near the top"

Have you any evidence to back up this assertion? It just seems so very unlikely to be true.

Alice Cook said...

Scottie, Martin,

This blog is about evidence. If you have a view, back it up with numbers. It is always more persuasive.


Anonymous said...

Errm Alice, you have supplied absolutely no evidence for your assertions.


Anonymous said...

Alice and Scottie,

The first item found when googling "UK unemployment rates by ethnicity" takes you to a very rewarding ONS site.


Anonymous said...

Alice and Scotty,

It's unfortunate that we're almost as far as possible from the last census, which first got me interested in immigration economics.

But in the 10 years since then, I've seen nothing that remotely suggests that third world immigration is economically beneficial. That's why so many academic studies look at migration, and have to cheat even then.


Laban said...

"If you created a league table of UK welfare dependency by ethnicity I think you'd find that natives came nowhere near the top."

He's right you know.

Funny, I thought they'd come here to do the jobs we wouldn't. Not according to these stats.

You can also use the bottom graph - male/female employment ratios for working age people - as an approximate proxy for childrearing. Pakistani/Bangladeshi women of working age are characterised as 'economically inactive' i.e. they're raising kids, not trying for that Senior Co-Ordinator role.

Note the other groups with a high male/female paid "employment" ratio - Indian, Black African, other Asian, other White (the Poles ?). This implies they're all having more babies than the natives.

I'm gobsmacked to note that Chinese males are apparently the most economically inactive. This doesn't fit with my experience at all. I bet they're all working at something - maybe they just haven't told the Revenue. Am I allowed to say that ? Either that or some genius dole fraudster has created a terracotta army of non-existent Chinese claimants.

Anonymous said...

Laban, that link you posted doesn't back up the assertion in any way shape or form.

Unemployment isn't the same as welfare dependency.

Laban said...

"Unemployment isn't the same as welfare dependency"

Really ?

It's true that some employed people on low wages also depend on the State. But nearly all the unemployed will be welfare dependent.