18 Bogus Arguments for Mass ImmigrationKey Facts 12.4
- Immigration provides great economic benefit
- Immigrants are no problem as they work hard and pay taxes
- Britain is only the 39th most crowded country in the world.
- The public are not really as opposed to immigration as they seem.
- Population projections are unreliable
- The government’s immigration target is unachievable because EU and British migration cannot be controlled
- Net migration of 150,000 per year would be satisfactory
- The NHS would collapse without immigrants
- Migrants do not take social housing
- Immigrants are needed to pay our pensions
- Immigration will help pay off Britain’s debt
- Immigration has no effect on jobs
- Immigration makes no different to wages
- Britain is a nation of immigrants
- Curbing immigration would prevent the Nobel winners of the future migrating to the UK
- Immigration is vital for our economic recovery
- Foreign student are an important sector of the economy
This paper outlines the many myths that are put forward by the mass immigration lobby in support of the current levels of immigration and dispels each myth in turn.
For many years the government claimed that immigration added £6 billion a year to GDP. However, the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee, reporting in April 2008, said that what mattered was GDP per head. They concluded that:
“We have found no evidence for the argument, made by the government, business and many others, that net immigration generates significant economic benefits for the existing UK population”.
In January 2012 the Migration Advisory Committee went further. They said that even GDP per head exaggerated the benefit of immigration because:
“It is the immigrants themselves rather than the extant residents who are the main gainers”.
They suggested that the GDP of residents should be the main focus.
They recognised that the resident population would gain via any “dynamic effects” of skilled immigration on productivity and innovation – these “exist and may be large, but they are elusive to measure”.
As regards EU migration, a study by the NIESR in 2011 found that the medium term impact of A8 migration (Poland et al) was expected to be “negligible”
Many do work hard but the impact on the budget is very small. According to the House of Lords Economic Committee “the fiscal impact [of immigration] is small compared to GDP and cannot be used to justify large-scale immigration”.
It should also be noted that many immigrants pay very little tax since only those who earn more than £25,700 a year pay net tax. (MAC, 5.6)
93% of immigrants go to England so England is what matters in this context. Together with Holland, England is the sixth most crowded country in the world if you exclude islands and city states.
The 2011 census showed that the population of England and Wales had grown by 3.7 million to 56.1 million (bringing the UK population to an estimated 63.2million). This is more than twice the rate in the previous decade and is the fastest growth in any ten year period since the census began in 1801.
In a major government survey conducted over a two year period 2008-2010, 75% of respondents said that they would like to see immigration reduced, 51% by a lot. A majority of the Asian community also thought that there were too many immigrants in Britain.
Projections become less reliable as the length of the projection period increases. However, over the last 50 years, the ONS have been accurate to +/- 2½% in their projections over a 25 year period.
The latest projections indicate that just over two thirds of our population growth is a result of immigration. The UK population is projected to increase from 63.2 million to 70 million in 2027. 5 million of this increase will be due to immigration. This number is equivalent to the current populations of Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, Bradford, Glasgow and Bristol.
The major source of net migration is from outside the European Union and has averaged about 200,000 a year over the past ten years. Indeed, 75 % of net foreign migration of 3.2 million since 1997 has been non-EU. These flows are capable of control by the government.
On the contrary, immigration on this scale would simply postpone the population reaching 70 million by 4 years to 2031, after which the population would continue to rise very rapidly.
Probably but, obviously, no one is suggesting that they should be expelled. In fact, even at the peak of arrivals, medical staff were never more than 5% of immigration. The reason they were needed is that we failed to train our own staff. Other major countries in Europe have only about 5 or 6% of foreign qualified doctors, whereas we have more like 30%.
It is often said that migrants do not occupy social housing. While most do live in private rentals, official data shows that in 2010-11, 8.4 percent of social housing in England is occupied by non-UK nationals. These are migrants who have not been here long enough to become British citizens or who have not bothered to do so.
This is a ludicrous argument which even the Labour government dropped. The reality is that immigrants themselves grow older so that there would have to be a continuing and increasing inflow of immigrants to have any long-term effect. The Turner Commission on pensions put it like this:
“Only high immigration can produce more than a trivial reduction in the projected dependency ratio over the next 50 years”
They calculated that even net migration of 300,000 a year would produce only a temporary effect unless still higher levels of immigration continued in later years.
The claim is that immigration will keep public sector net debt to 40% of GDP and is based on the Office for Budgetary Responsibility’s net migration scenario of 200,000 per year. But this scenario leads to an increase of 25 million in the UK population bringing it to 88 million in 2060.
Moreover any effect is temporary since migrants also grow old.
The Migration Advisory Committee reported in January 2012 that 100 additional non-EU migrants might be associated with a reduction in employment of 23 native workers over the period 1995-2010. (This faded over 5 years and did not apply to EU workers). There is considerable anecdotal evidence of job displacement in key sectors such as construction, hospitality and retail.
According to the Migration Advisory Committee the majority of studies estimate that migrants have little impact on average wages but there is an impact on wage distribution in the UK. The majority of studies find that migrants increased wages at the top of the wage distribution but reduced them at the bottom. (para 4.82.9).
More people have now migrated to the UK in a single year (2010) than did so in the entire period from 1066 to 1950, excluding wartime.
In fact, in the nearly 900 years between 1066 and 1950 just a quarter of a million people migrated to what is now the UK, mainly Jews and Huguenots, excluding the Irish of course who were for a long period a part of the same country.
There is no evidence to back this up. The first Nobel prizes were awarded in 1901 with the first Nobel Prize being awarded to a Briton the following year. Since the inception of the Nobel Prize, there have been 97 winners from Britain. Of those 97, 20 were born abroad, of which 7 had British heritage i.e. their parents were British. Of the remaining 13, 5 came to the UK as refugees and the remaining 8 came to the UK to continue with their academic careers with the exception of one who came to study his undergraduate degree in the UK. Therefore, not one Nobel Laureate would have conceivably have been prevented from coming to the UK as a result of the kind of immigration controls now proposed.
Yes. But this need not conflict with immigration control. International companies are free to post senior staff in and out of Britain as they choose. Companies can also apply for work permits for skilled workers. These are “capped” at 20,700 a year but, so far only about half this number have been taken up.
Yes. But provided they are genuine they will usually go home at the end of their course and will not add to net migration. Bogus students do not, of course, go home. That is why strong measures are being taken to tighten up the issue of student visas.
Updated 11 April, 2013
- House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs, The Economic Impact of Immigration, April 2008, URL: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/.../ldeconaf/82/82.pdf
- Migration Advisory Committee, Analysis of the Impacts of Migration, January 2012,URL: http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/.../01-analysis-report/analysis-of-the-impacts
- NIESR, Labour Mobility within the EU – The impact of enlargement and the functioning of the transitional arrangements, NIESR Discussion Paper No. 379, April 2011, URL: http://www.niesr.ac.uk/pdf/270411_143310.pdf
- Migration Advisory Committee, Review of the minimum income requirement for sponsorship under the family migration route, November 2011, URL: http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/.../family-migration-route/family-migration-route.pdf
- ONS, 2011 Census, Population and Household Estimates for the United Kingdom, December 2012, URL: http://www.ons.gov.uk/.../population-and-household-estimates-for-the-united-kingdom/index.html
- URL: http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/statistics/pdf/1886779.pdf
- BBC, BBC Asian Network Poll, 29 April 2009, URL: http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2005/04_april/29/asian_poll.shtml
- ONS, Population Trends, Summer 2007, No 128, URL: http://www.ons.gov.uk/.../no--128--summer-2007/population-trends.pdf
- ONS, National Population Projections, 2010-Based Statistical Bulletin, October 2011, URL: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171778_235886.pdf
- Migration Watch UK, Briefing Paper 9.31, UK Populagtion Projections – How to stay below 70 million, January 2012, URL: http://migrationwatch.co.uk/briefingPaper/document/243
- World Health Organisation, Migration of health personnel in the WHO European Region, 2009, URL: http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/95689/E93039.pdf
- Migration Watch UK, Press Release - One in Twelve Social Houses Occupied by Foreign Nationals, October 2010, URL: http://migrationwatch.co.uk/pressReleases/27-Oct-2010#251
- Pensions Commission, Pensions: Challenges and Choices, The First Report of the Pensions Commission, 2004, URL: http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-files/Money/documents/2005/05/17/fullreport.pdf
- OBR, Fiscal Sustainability Report, July 2012, URL: http://cdn.budgetresponsibility.independent.gov.uk/FSR2012WEB.pdf
- Migration Watch UK, Briefing Paper 1.32, Office for Budget Responsibility: Immigration and Public Debt, 19 July 2012, URL: http://www.migrationwatchuk.org/briefingPaper/document/272
- Migration Advisory Committee, Analysis of the Impacts of Migration, January 2012, URL: http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/.../01-analysis-report/analysis-of-the-impacts
- David Goodhart, The British Dream, 2013.
- Migration Watch UK, Briefing Paper, ‘Britain is open for Business’.
- Migration Watch UK, Briefing Paper 2.19, ‘Students: Genuine or Bogus?’, July 2012, URL: http://www.migrationwatchuk.org/briefingPaper/document/273