They took our jobs (2)

 What are the benefits of immigration?

1)      It can help to combat the effects of an ageing population

For most developed nations, population ageing is more than likely going to pose some serious political and economic challenges. Once we pass our sell by date (get old), we tend to become net consumers of societal resources. After a long life’s slog, we draw the pension, avail free rail and bus travel and of course use copious amounts of healthcare goods and services. But who bears the cost? Who subsidises the bus and train fares and pays for that swanky new hip replacement?  Young workers of course!  Increasing the tax base is likely to spread the economic burden, thereby helping to avoid a Japan type dilemma.

2)      Innovation

Throughout history Immigrants have been responsible for some of the most extraordinary innovations, inventions and research. Nicola Tesla and Albert Einstein, both of whom emigrated to the US, not only contributed immensely to their respective scientific fields but were also directly responsible for the advancement humanity. For global superpowers like the US or the UK, it’s important to attract and retain the brightest minds. The opportunity cost of overly stringent immigration policies may end up damaging competitiveness in the long run.

3)      Increases competitiveness

Arguably, skilled immigrant workers allow companies to remain competitive.  In a depressed economy, cash strapped consumers expect value for money and/or lower prices. To meet this expectation, some companies are forced to cut costs and are faced with a dichotomous choice, outsource production or hire cheap labour. Because immigrants are often willing to undertake labour intensive jobs for a lower wage, companies can continue to operate domestically while remaining competitive.  The added benefit is that employee wages are spent in the local economy, not the Chinese economy!

Immigration sounds wonderful! But are there any disadvantages?

Well of course there. Most of these relate to societal issues surrounding integration, national identity and the over-utilisation of state resources etc. These failings are due largely to ill managed or poorly designed national policies. Weak immigration policy or no immigration policy is likely to be destructive and may ultimately lead to civil unrest and intolerance. As such it is important for governments to effectively regulate and monitor immigration, though perhaps this is easier said than done.


Brian O’Toole

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They took our jobs! An immigrant’s view on immigration – Part 1 They took our jobs! An immigrant’s view on immigration – Part 1

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