Thursday, 12 January 2012

The economics of immigration: nonsense in The Guardian.

The hardcopy version of this Guardian article on immigration has a truly inspiring couple of sentences in extra bold type just beside the article. Plus the extra bold couple of sentences have oodles of blank space just above: so Guardian journalists / editors must think the two sentences are unusually profound.

The two sentences say, “GDP goes up with immigration. So if you’re asking what’s ‘best for Britain’, in the politician’s terms, that’s your answer.”

Well it’s pretty stark staring obvious that the more people there are in a country, the larger is GDP. And that’s true even if the new arrivals are far less productive than existing inhabitants (which they aren’t: the two groups are roughly speaking equally productive).

Exactly what the advantage of more car parks, factories, housing estates, etc is for one of the most heavily populated countries in the World, I’m not sure. You certainly won’t find any explanation in this Guardian article.

This apparent inability of Britain’s political left to work out the different between changes to GDP and changes to GDP per head has been going on for some time.

The government’s submission to the House of Lords enquiry into immigration in 2007 (when Labour were in power) is also based on the above bit of nonsense. On p.11 of this work, they cite a paper produced by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR). But if you look at the small print of the NIESR paper, you find that it also simply makes the banal point that increasing the population increases GDP.  

And we pay taxes to fund the NIESR!


1 comment:

  1. Similarly, people who spend a lot of time in hospital tend to be ill. So if you want to stay healthy, there's your answer...


Post a comment.