Tuesday, 5 January 2010

The (un)economic arguments for immigration.

Those who advocate immigration would do themselves a big favour if they spent more time studying the subject before opening their mouths.

For the umpteenth time in as many months an article has just appeared in one of the UK broadsheet newspapers (The Times) claiming that immigrants can solve or help solve our ageing population problem.

The flaw here is that immigrants themselves grow old (would you credit it?). Thus this policy requires a never ending exponential population increase, and the extent of this increase is staggering. One study estimates that a twenty five fold increase over a hundred years would be needed. That is what I call a reductio ad absurdum. (See 2nd last para, p. 24 here.)

One possible escape from this absurdity is to claim that while it would be nonsensical to use immigration alone to deal with the ageing population problem, a little immigration can at least help. This is a bit like arguing that while it is daft to burn one’s furniture to keep the house warm, nevertheless it could makes sense to burn just a little furniture each day.

Well thanks, but I’ve no intention of burning my furniture (not even a little at a time).

England already has more people per square kilometre than China (though if one includes Scotland and Wales it works out at a slightly lower population density than China).

And to add insult to injury, the Chinese have just realised that their laudable “one child per family” policy will bring them the same ageing problem, but quicker than would otherwise be the case.

But I know the solution to that: people migrating from England to China!

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