Immigration and the economy

Putting together the information from these articles from the Christain Science Monitor and the Washington Post, (found via Greg Mankiw’s blog) once more emphasis the enormous economic benefits of immigration. It also demolishes the arguments of those “concerned” about immigration, in Britain as well as the US.

The reason that I specifically add Britain, is that I know many British people will trot out the tired old “this is a small overcrowded island” argument. The answer is, stop reading the tabloids and learn some facts. Leaving aside my puzzlement at how something about a thousand miles from end to end can be “small”, lets look at the more important question of the alleged overcrowding.

Britain is not very far up the list of most densely populated countries. Lots of very pleasantly rural countries are further up the list.

Of course the “overcrowded island” argument will then move on to saying England is overcrowded. However even England by itself has a population density approximately the same as that of the Netherlands, lower than South Koera’s and only slightly higher than that ofcountries like India, Belgium and Japan. It is only 23% higher than that of Sri Lanka, which is almost entirely rural, with only one real city (total population is about 40% that of England, so saying that it is too small for comparison with does not wash either).

England looks positively empty compared with really densely populated countries like Taiwan and Banlgadesh.

Of course the real problem is that the South East of England is too crowded. This is the result of planning laws, immigration from the rest of Britain, and immigration from the EU, with immigration from the rest of the world only one of many causes. Someone proposing to restrict the last, without addressing the others, has some explaining to do, particularly as Britain already has very strict immigration laws (again do not read the tabloids: speak to people who have applied for British visas or read the laws and Home Office rules).

5 thoughts on “Immigration and the economy

  1. Well said. National population density comparisons are in any case very ininformative, since most regions in most countries are almost empty. London is, I believe, one of the least densely populated large cities on Earth. This fact is surely more relevant than the UK’s population density. Besides, there are huge benefits to high density (better amenities, shorter distances). This explains why historically people have tended to gather themselves into cities in the first place, rather than spread themselves evenly over countries.

    In most rich countries, rural areas are subsidised by urbam ones. Hence if more people lived in cities (eg because of immigration), taxes could fall.

    PS Graeme; when are you next coming to London? I haven’t seen you for about 5 years.

  2. Judging by the comments, there are not many Mail or Sun readers visiting this blog….

    Mike, I will email you.

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