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9 Reasons To Want A Lot More Immigration

Immigration makes everyone better off. Here are some reasons to want more immigration and not to worry about most of the scare stories that people tell.

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1. Getting rid of all controls on immigration worldwide would probably more than double global GDP

When economists try to estimate how much extra wealth we’d create by removing all barriers to international trade in goods and services, they reckon it would lead to a one-time boost to global GDP of about 1-4%. Similar estimates suggest that removing all barriers to international migration would increase global GDP by between 67% and 147%. In other words, we could more than double global GDP just by getting rid of laws that stop firms from hiring foreigners. We could make the world twice as rich as it is – with most of that extra wealth going to the poorest people. And even if we don’t want to open them entirely, every step we take towards more open borders is a step towards extra wealth.
Michael Clemens / Via aeaweb.org

When economists try to estimate how much extra wealth we’d create by removing all barriers to international trade in goods and services, they reckon it would lead to a one-time boost to global GDP of about 1-4%. Similar estimates suggest that removing all barriers to international migration would increase global GDP by between 67% and 147%.

In other words, we could more than double global GDP just by getting rid of laws that stop firms from hiring foreigners. We could make the world twice as rich as it is – with most of that extra wealth going to the poorest people. And even if we don’t want to open them entirely, every step we take towards more open borders is a step towards extra wealth.

2. Immigrants don't steal native jobs, they create them

When immigrants take jobs, that's all some people see. What they don't see is that immigrants spend the money they earn too. That means that for every job taken by an immigrant worker, she will create another one by buying goods and services with the money she earns. Study after study has found that immigrants don't 'steal' jobs.The idea that immigrants steal jobs is sometimes called the 'lump of labour fallacy', because it mistakenly assumes that there is fixed amount of work to go around. If that were true, women entering the workforce in the mid-20th Century should have created mass unemployment. It didn't.
Evening Standard / Via dailymail.co.uk

When immigrants take jobs, that's all some people see. What they don't see is that immigrants spend the money they earn too. That means that for every job taken by an immigrant worker, she will create another one by buying goods and services with the money she earns. Study after study has found that immigrants don't 'steal' jobs.

The idea that immigrants steal jobs is sometimes called the 'lump of labour fallacy', because it mistakenly assumes that there is fixed amount of work to go around. If that were true, women entering the workforce in the mid-20th Century should have created mass unemployment. It didn't.

3. Immigrants pay more in taxes than they cost in services…

Because immigrants tend to be young and able-bodied, they generally pay more in taxes than they cost in services.
Oxford Migration Observatory / Via migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk

Because immigrants tend to be young and able-bodied, they generally pay more in taxes than they cost in services.

4. …and as we get older, we’re going to need a lot more of them

The chart above shows UK government debt over the next fifty years under high, low and no net migration projections. Basically, Britons are getting older and living longer and not having enough babies to pay for all those pensions and healthcare bills. Immigrants can fill in the gap. But we'd need more of them than we're currently happy with letting in. (By the way, there are good arguments for reforming the British pensions and healthcare systems, but we can stop them from causing a fiscal crisis just by letting more immigrants come and work here.)
Oxford Migration Observatory / Via migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk

The chart above shows UK government debt over the next fifty years under high, low and no net migration projections. Basically, Britons are getting older and living longer and not having enough babies to pay for all those pensions and healthcare bills. Immigrants can fill in the gap. But we'd need more of them than we're currently happy with letting in. (By the way, there are good arguments for reforming the British pensions and healthcare systems, but we can stop them from causing a fiscal crisis just by letting more immigrants come and work here.)

5. Immigrants are extremely entrepreneurial

It makes sense, really – if you’re enterprising enough to travel halfway across the world to start a new life, you’re a good bet to take a chance on starting your own business. More than half of Silicon Valley tech startups had at least one immigrant as a key founder, and 17.2% of immigrants in Britain set up their own business, compared to just 10.4% of Britons.
Daily Telegraph / Via telegraph.co.uk

It makes sense, really – if you’re enterprising enough to travel halfway across the world to start a new life, you’re a good bet to take a chance on starting your own business. More than half of Silicon Valley tech startups had at least one immigrant as a key founder, and 17.2% of immigrants in Britain set up their own business, compared to just 10.4% of Britons.

6. Immigrants send three times as much money home to their families as the developed world gives in aid money each year

According to the World Bank, migrants will send back well over $400 billion in remittances to developing countries this year, which is triple what the developed world gives in development aid and, because it goes straight to immigrants' families, avoids the corruption problems that bedevil aid money. The cost of sending money back differs wildly between countries, so if we could simplify regulations to make it cheaper to send money internationally, we could add billions to the amount being received by people in the developing world.
World Bank / Via siteresources.worldbank.org

According to the World Bank, migrants will send back well over $400 billion in remittances to developing countries this year, which is triple what the developed world gives in development aid and, because it goes straight to immigrants' families, avoids the corruption problems that bedevil aid money. The cost of sending money back differs wildly between countries, so if we could simplify regulations to make it cheaper to send money internationally, we could add billions to the amount being received by people in the developing world.

7. Guest worker programmes are one of the best ways of fighting poverty we have

A study by the World Bank looked at aid programmes like giving microloans to entrepreneurs in poor countries, grants to small businesses, conditional cash transfers, and a seasonal migration programme to New Zealand. The only programme to produce lasting income gains was the migration scheme. According to the report's authors, "In addition to estimating per-capita income gains of 30-40%, we find that participating in the RSE leads to greater subjective well-being, more durable asset purchases, housing improvements, and in Tonga, a large increase in secondary schooling. Moreover, as a recent evaluation by New Zealand’s labor department found, these gains came with minimal displacement of native workers, and overstay rates of less than 1%."
World Bank / Via blogs.worldbank.org

A study by the World Bank looked at aid programmes like giving microloans to entrepreneurs in poor countries, grants to small businesses, conditional cash transfers, and a seasonal migration programme to New Zealand. The only programme to produce lasting income gains was the migration scheme. According to the report's authors, "In addition to estimating per-capita income gains of 30-40%, we find that participating in the RSE leads to greater subjective well-being, more durable asset purchases, housing improvements, and in Tonga, a large increase in secondary schooling. Moreover, as a recent evaluation by New Zealand’s labor department found, these gains came with minimal displacement of native workers, and overstay rates of less than 1%."

8. Immigrants are literally dying to come here

Since 2000, more than 40,000 people have died while attempting to move to a richer country to work, including over 22,000 trying to come to Europe. Most of those deaths are down to the difficulty of coming to the developed world without getting caught – if they could come here legally, they could come more safely too.

Since 2000, more than 40,000 people have died while attempting to move to a richer country to work, including over 22,000 trying to come to Europe. Most of those deaths are down to the difficulty of coming to the developed world without getting caught – if they could come here legally, they could come more safely too.

9. The public wildly overestimates how much immigration we already have

When Ipsos MORI asked the Great British public to guess what percentage of the British population were immigrants, the average response was 31%. The reality is 13%. The average guess about how much of the population was Muslim was 25%; the reality is 5%. If the public misjudges the level of immigration so badly, it's little wonder that controlling immigration is so politically popular. If people knew the facts, they might not be quite so eager to make themselves poorer by curbing immigration even more.

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