Tuesday, 18 October 2016

UK migration: separating fact and fiction

From the Royal Economic Society website comes a piece on UK migration: separating fact and fiction. Perhaps the most interesting part of the article is
For the UK, the existing evidence does not indicate a clear impact of immigration on employment, and only very modest effects on wages at the low end of the wage distribution, but positive effects further up the distribution. He illustrated that migrants tend to upgrade their labour status over time, often starting in work which is below their skill and educational attainment and moving up into more appropriate skill level employment over time.
Also interesting is the comment that in fact economic issues have little impact on people's views on immigration. The finding of the research discussed is that
When discussing attitudes to immigration, Dustmann noted that economic factors were not a key determining issue. Social and cultural factors are much more important, as his research with David Card and Ian Preston has shown.
Part of the problem with whole immigration debate is lack of knowledge.
He pointed out that it is quite typical that people do not know basic facts about migration, and he illustrated that by showing that individuals vastly overestimate the numbers of immigrants in their country, with higher overestimates the lower someone’s educational level.
What of the the fiscal consequences of migration? What of the cost of publicly provided services?
Finally he presented evidence for the UK that immigrants are less likely to claim benefits or live in social housing than the native population. Further detailed analysis of the fiscal contribution of immigrants shows that those who came to the UK after 2000, and in particular those from EU countries, made a substantial net fiscal contribution.
Perhaps this last result isn't too surprise if we think that immigrants are not a random selection from their home country, but are more likely to be risk-takers and entrepreneurs.

Overall the effect of immigration, on the UK at least, looks positive. We should keep such results in mind when discussing immigration into New Zealand.

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