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2015-09-30

Martin Wolf: The benefits of migration are questionable


The benefits of migration are questionable
Cosmopolitanism is incompatible with our organisation into territorial jurisdictions
Martin Wolf, FT September 29, 2015

I am the child of refugees. My parents came to the UK to escape Hitler. Their arrival saved their lives. More passionate patriots cannot be imagined. It is not surprising that I believe Europe has a moral obligation to protect refugees. But what should one think about immigration more broadly?

Immigrants lower the ratio of the retired to those of working age (the old-age dependency ratio). But the impact on dependency, at least with current levels of immigration, is modest. 

To lower it substantially requires enormous inflows.

In 2014, there were 29 dependants aged 65 and over for every 100 people of working age. According to the UN, keeping this ratio below a third would require immigration of 154m between 1995 and 2050, with far more thereafter: immigrants age, too, after all.

Yet migration is not just about economics. Immigrants are people. They bring in families, for example. Over time, large-scale immigration will transform the cultures of recipient countries in complex ways.

People may legitimately differ on the correct policies.

Full text



"Immigration increases the size of the economy." 
This is true, but irrelevant.

What matters is its impact on the welfare of the pre-existing population. 

What is remarkable is that there is next to no good argument or evidence to suggest that immigration on the current scale does raise that welfare to any significant degree.

Martin Wolf FT 3/4 2008


Martin Wolf at IntCom




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