Does immigration make you and your country wealthier?

This isn’t a discussion about the UK, but about every country in the world. Its root though is this story.

Lord Wakeham chaired the economic affairs committee inquiry on immigration in the British government’s second house – the House of Lords. The inquiry published a report today and Lord Wakeham explains it like this.

‘Whenever a minister is asked about high levels of immigration, the same answer is trotted out: migrants boost the economy, fill jobs that Britons cannot or will not do, and pay taxes that benefit the exchequer. Yet an inquiry by a House of Lords committee into the economic impact of immigration found fundamental flaws in these claims. We found no evidence that net immigration (immigration minus emigration) generates significant economic benefits for the existing UK population.’

Gordon Brown has replied that if you ensure immigrants have valuable skills they will add to the British economy. He also supports the free movement of labour in the European Union, and that includes unskilled labour.

So what about where you live? Do you feel that immigration benefits your country’s economy and in turn your finances? Would you welcome more stringent restrictions on economic immigrants? Or would hampering the movement of labour risk undermining a crucial part of the global economy, something that in turn could affect economic conditions where you are?

81 Responses to “Does immigration make you and your country wealthier?”

  1. 1 steve
    April 1, 2008 at 13:45

    Depends: If you get the best and the brightest, they tend to contribute more the economy, rather than being a burden. In the US, certain areas have lots of illegal immigrants. While they are hard workers, they work in low income areas, and send a lot of money back to their families in other countries. They also don’t pay income taxes, and tend to live in large groups, which lowers property values, which lowers real estate tax assessments, which hurts local governments. Also, they mostly don’t have health insurance, so they use emergency rooms, and the taxpayer has to pay the bill, and since they don’t pay income tax, they aren’t help contribute to their own medical costs. So hospitals are losing money or closing down because they have to treat these people. So I think that legal immigration can contribute the wealth of a nation, but I think illegal immigration can hurt it.

  2. 2 Zita
    April 1, 2008 at 13:59

    Dear Ros,
    I always read your emails and follow WHYS whenever I can and this particular subject about immigration is something I would like to contribute my ‘mite’ to. I live in Britain now and would like to comment on how I think immigration affects Brittain. In my 38 years work here I found that in all industries that I came across there were immigrants employed. In the health service that I worked in some hospitals would have come to a halt if not for the immigrant force. They were willing to work in the less attractive jobs in less interesting areas and most of the immigrants I came across, worked very hard.
    I personally think that controlled immigration helps Britain or at least it did in the past nearly 40 years. But the scene is quite different now. You have the ready availabiltiy of European Union force to work here. One thing though is that they should be asked to learn English if they want to work in Britain.
    Till these countries teach English to some accepted standard, immigrants from other countries will be helpful if they are taken only into jobs that are available.
    I have to stress very firmly that asylum seeking and illeagal immigration should be stopped. Yes I say even asylum seeking should be completely stopped. It will be disaster for this county.
    As for the report that immigration has not helped Britain economically, this statement should be examined carefully and factually. If it is true obviously the policy here has to be revised.
    I am sure you will have lively discussion tonight. I’ll follow it by podcast.
    All the best!

  3. 3 Brett
    April 1, 2008 at 14:02

    I would welcome more stringent restrictions on illegal immigrants. Legal economic migrants are welcome and benefit the economy and community as a whole. It’s the illegal ones who need to get out and try it again the right way.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  4. 4 primal convoy in Japan
    April 1, 2008 at 14:07

    I live in Japan and am an immigrant myself, or at least a resident to some degree.

    Japan is famous for its governments and perhaps its society’s xenophobic attitude towards all things foreign and this is most notable in its immigration and asylum seeker attitude (hardly any when compared to the USA or even the tiny island of the UK, where I am from).
    Japan’s economy is declining, with a rapidly increasing aging population and a shrinking birthrate. In the countryside, where nationalism is especially strong and the economy at its weakest, foreigners have plugged the gap. In places like Oizumi, in Ota, Gunma prefecture, the immigrant Brazilian and Peruvian population, like many areas of Gunma (with fairly sizeable foreign populations consisting of Brazilians, Peruvians, Pakistanis, Indians, Iranians and Eastern Europeans) all work in factories and have revitalized the local economy, to the extent that many shop signs, businesses, etc all sport Spanish, Arabic, Hindi or any other language you care to name.

    Taxes, too have been paid by many of these foreign workers, which in turn have helped some local economies support the pensions of the older Japanese who should have been supported by the now non-existent young population.

    The irony here is that Japan, with its increased racism, nationalism, xenophobia etc has seemed to do its most to make foreigners less and less welcome. The infamous fingerprinting of ALL foreigners at Japanese national airports (even long term residents or frequent fliers), nationalist black vans, racist actions of the Japanese police force (which seems to take great delight in publishing inflated “crime figures” of foreign criminals as Japan is one of the only countries where “overstaying a visa”, even by accident, can be reported and convicted as a crime).

    Even Tokyo, the most cosmopolitan of Japanese cities, suffers the infestation of its resident racist, the mayor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara.

    Japan needs to be more like the UK and welcome more foreigners who, in such a slow-to-react society, have been known to incite great changes faster and for the better, than their Japanese counterparts.

    However, this does not mean that Japanese people themselves are all racist and I certainly do not mean that Japanese people, if left to their own devices, would be unable to “run” Japan themselves.

  5. 5 Neil McGowan
    April 1, 2008 at 14:15

    Immigration certainly fans the flames for Nick Griffin and his Send-‘Em-Home thugs.

    Frankly I’ve read reports that abolishing Lord Wakeham, along with the rest of the talentless pratts, chinless wonders and paid-a-million-for-a-peerage wallies who sit in The Lordship’s House would ALSO benefit Britain considerably.

    I have yet to hear any of the ermine-clad space-wasters argue in favour of their own dismissal, however.

    Meantime many other studies have concluded that immigrants bring considerable benefit to the UK. My dad died in an NHS Nursing Home, and there wasn’t one single native UK-born doctor, nurse or auxiliary working there. But the British Nazi Party won’t want to hear that, of course.

  6. 6 Josh
    April 1, 2008 at 14:17

    Hi, this is Josh from Portland.

    This idea of immigration having economic impacts is one sided. It is only half of a self perpetuating cycle. People always seek higher pay, and consumers want lower costs.

    To stay competitive companies seek cheap labor and infrastructure. Labor and infrastructure is cut or outsourced; bringing migrant labor in or shipping it overseas. The average guy tries to stay competitive as well; by seeking higher and higher education.

    The unfortunate side effect is ignorance. Education has been focusing on creating high powered execs; while we have a whole country full of people who can’t or won’t professionally swing a hammer; thus driving the need for cheap labor. Overspecialization has created a shortage of intelligent, hardworking individuals and Wallmart has let us get away with it.

  7. 7 gary
    April 1, 2008 at 14:21

    Hello All,
    Immigration is a consequence of rejection of the status quo. People move to survive or to thrive. The bravest and most adaptive usually are in the vanguard. If they commingle, newcomers bring new ways of thinking and acting. They add spice to a community. Sometimes the natives resent them; but usually only because they are forced to consider new ways of survival. The turmoil settles eventually and resulting society is the stronger for it, both genetically and culturally.

  8. 8 Ros Atkins
    April 1, 2008 at 14:28

    Immigration to wealthier countries by ghanaians contribute enormously to the economy here. It equals if not surpasses foreign donor inflow.
    Economically immigrants are a big support to africa.
    Kwabena in Ghana

  9. April 1, 2008 at 14:39

    immigration works well for every country, depends on how well it is requlated.
    In kenya, many immigrants from somali have caused a crime rate rise, insecurity, etc .
    requlations/controls/policies….we have not effective system here in kenya to ensure immigration works for the country.
    I Apeal to the Kenyan gov’t to move faster in adressing the issue of immigration.

  10. 10 John in Salem
    April 1, 2008 at 14:41

    We are having a huge influx of Hispanic immigrants where I live, and all I can see is that the tax base is not keeping up with the load of non-English speaking students that is overwhelming our school systems. Their parents work but the service sector jobs they fill do little for the state budget.

  11. 11 Marsha
    April 1, 2008 at 14:46

    I was born and raised on the U.S. Mexico border. As an adult I worked in the Food Stamp Welfare Office. My first hand observation was that legal (controled) immigration benifited all parties, illegal and or uncontroled immigration did not. The schools systems had to continually down grade the curriculum to accommodate the non-English speaking students. Clinics and other urgent care services were strained to the point of nonfunction becasue they provided services to everyone regardless of their ability to pay. The illegals and unemployed / under employed had no medical insurance coverage. All social services , ie housing, utility payment support, food subsidies were maxed out. It was clear from where I sat that a majority of the undocumented (illegal immigrants) came to the US to get what they could but had no real plans on how they would contribute back. Those who came legally or who became legal contributed to the tax base just as the existing citizens did. So again, legal controled immigration can be a good thing. Illegal or uncontroled immigration is an opportunity for exploitation and extortion … not a good thing.

    Let me go on the record to say … I am absolutely NOT for a North American Union. (No borders, one monitary system). I see that as an opportunity for the money barrons of this country to make all of the rest of us into indentured servants of the modern kind. NOT ACCEPTABLE!

  12. 12 Peter Dewsnap
    April 1, 2008 at 14:48

    Here, in South Carolina, we hardly ever saw an immigrant some five years ago. Now, over 17% of the population are aliens from Mexico, predominantly illegal, I expect. They seem to be everywhere and are never heard to speak English. Yes, they are good workers but are paid not much more than the legal minimum so they pay no taxes.
    The Emergency Room at our local hospital is overloaded with them but it is forced to take them under the Law, even though they have no insurance. Similarly, 40% of babies born in that hospital are Mexican. It is costing us a fortune.
    Meanwhile, businesses are seeing increased profits as a result.
    Bush and Co adamantly refuse to do anything about it since they have no concern for the ordinary American.
    We neither need nor want these people.

  13. 13 VictorK
    April 1, 2008 at 14:50

    Some immigrants are good for Britain and some aren’t. Polish plumbers: good; French professionals: good; Indian and African doctors: good. Unskilled labourers: bad (they drive wages down and are likely to end up as a burden on the state); Roma: always bad, I’m afraid; etc. There’s no blanket answer to such a question.

    Immigration also poses dangers. The greatest being that, if the numbers are too great, it can undermine and destroy a nation’s cultural and historic identity. Many would take the view that an increase in material wealth can never make up for the loss of national cohesiveness that immigration can cause (the Japanese view).

    Japan’s attitude to immigrants is fascinating and something that I’d be interested in hearing more about having read ‘primal convoy’s’ remarks. .

  14. 14 Robert
    April 1, 2008 at 14:56

    It depends on the area, I live in an area of Wales in which most people are working within low pay, and have two or three jobs, the main employer is Tesco and Asda which says a lot, yet according to the ONS site we have the highest population of Polish immigrants, it’s high because we have an agency which has a turn over of £4 million a year and only works in this area, we have Polish people everywhere and most are contracted to stay and live in the area.

    I’m disabled after a major accident, I cannot for the life of me find a job, and of late when I go to the job center more and more people in front of me are Polish.

    We even have a small shanty town which has grown up due to lack of housing, but heck yes I can see what they come here, one Polish lad told me he is married in Poland has two kids he earns in Poland £200 a month, he came to Wales because they promised him £3,000 a month, he earns nothing because he cannot get a job, Poland pays him a benefits while he is over here of £35 a week, his rent is £120 a week, he says he is worse off and wants money to go home, except of course he must be here nine months before he can get benefits, it’s a trap.

    Why are these agencies allowed to work like this.

  15. April 1, 2008 at 15:03

    This is a very mischievous question. The truth is that if it was not for immigration, the USA and the U.K would have lost all or most of their economic, political and military power, because of abortion, infertility and loss of human resources. African nations would have gained all or most of world economic, political and military power, because of her rich fertility, rich human resources, resourcefulness, and resilience. Political strategies were used to make Africans poor in order to force them out of Africa to the U.S and the U.K and use them to sustain the wealth of the U.S and the U.K.

    NOTE: C.F Westhoof (1986) wrote: “If it were not for immigration (under the present low infertility rate), the U.S (also the U.K) would stop growing …” ( C.F Westhoff, Fertility in the United States, Science, Oct. 1986. p. 555 – 559). B. J Wattenberg (1987) wrote: “The U.S should INCREASE its level of legal immigration to fill the gap in its falling birth rate and the subsequent slowing of population growth”. ( B. J. Wattenberg, The Birth Dearth, 1987). See also , the USCDC, Abortion Surveillance, In CDC Surveillance Summaries, Sept. 4, 1992, L.F Roberge, The Cost of Abortion, 1995, etc

    Prince Pieray Odor
    Lagos, Nigeria

  16. April 1, 2008 at 15:12

    I follow Brett’s sentiment. We have an “illegal immigrant” problem here in the United States. The legal immigrants fulfill shortages of skills not provided by the natural population of our economy. Specialist doctors, engineers, and research scientist bring much positive benefit to our economy. Their children have a much more probability of growing up to be productive members of our community. Their wages have little impact on the free market economy we value in this country. This is mainly due to the fact that their salaries are usually middle to higher income levels.

    In contrast, Illegal immigrants are employed by employers who do not want to follow the U.S. regulations on salary, payroll tax, and others that add value to the American workers job. They are employed at the lowest end of the wage spectrum. In a free market economy, Labor is a product. If a business can offer a product at a lower cost, it will force all others offering the similar product to offer theirs at a lower cost. When legal Americans have to pay taxes, send their children to school, save for retirement, pay medical bills, and all the other normal day to day living requirements, they can not compete with those that can live in over crowded housing, with no concern for education, health, or social constraints that make the US the land of opportunity.

    There is no job “Americans won’t do.” There are only employers who refuse to pay fair enough wages that will let a family meet its basic living requirements. Nobody wants to work really hard and still go backwards.

  17. 17 Peter Gizzi
    April 1, 2008 at 15:53

    As the grand son of immigrants I would be a hypocrite to say immigrants do not help. The difference though is that they when they arrived in the 1890s they got no help whatsoever including translators!

    Thanks to our membership of The EU all citizens from member states can come here and claim our benefits and we can do nothing about it. The so called controlled immigration is yet another political myth.

    I accept there are those who can be useful, but we have to pay for those who are not..

  18. April 1, 2008 at 16:03

    At least 10% of the Moroccans live abroad as immigrants, mainly ion Europe. Morocco depends heavily on immigrants’ money transfer to their country. It’s currently above 2 billion dollar a year. Without it, its payment balance would suffer heavily. There are immigrants who choose to return to Morocco and to invest their savings as there are those who stay in the host countries and set up a project in Morocco run by their relatives or associate.

    The good aspect of this is that they contribute to the creation of jobs, however their number is small. There are cities in Morocco which heavily depend on income from Moroccan migrants. There are families that can’t survive without money transfer from their kin abroad. That’s the good story.

    The bad story is that there are many illegal immigrants who risk their lives trying to cross the Gibraltar Strait to get to Spain. Many are drowned or arrested either by Moroccan border guards or the Spanish guards on the other side. This trend has helped create immigration networks which reap vast sums of money from the aspirants. Morocco has also become a destination for Africans who use its proximity to Europe to cross to Spain, Ceuta, Mellilia or the Canary Islands. So Morocco has to guard it borders constantly, helping the reduction in illegal immigration but not its total eradication.

    Morocco also through immigration lose many of its qualified graduates who choose to stay in Europe after finishing their studies or those who choose to leave it for a better future. There are now more than 200,000 qualified Moroccans who live abroad, not to count the unskilled workers. Canada is one of the countries that absorb well qualified Moroccan immigrant.

    As such immigration remains a way out for the people and the state. It is a stabilizing factor for both sides although the cost of having the cream of its labour and academic force living abroad makes Morocco make small leaps when it should make giant ones.

    Marrakesh, Moroccco

  19. 19 savane
    April 1, 2008 at 16:30

    Money repatriated by Kenyans abroad is now officially recognised as a key contributor to Kenya’s GDP, and the government is looking for ways to tap into on a national level. You’ll find Kenyans working abroad as senior executives and professionals (I was once one of them) and you’ll find Kenyans (usually students and ‘illegal aliens’) working in the jobs that a country’s citizens won’t do.

    Kenya has a large immigrant population (legal and illegal). The rise of violent crime is attributed to Somali illegal immigrants who bring weapons into Kenya. Not many people like to acknowledge that there are Somali immigrants who are professionals and legitimate business-people.

    Other Africans are usually accorded a better reception. I didn’t realise how many Africans have legitimately made Kenya their home from across Africa until our post-election violence. They are not all political or economic refugees – they chose to emigrate to Kenya.

    The immigrants (specifically the Caucasians from the northern hemisphere and South Africa, and Asia) a.k.a ‘the expats’, a.k.a. the ‘Maasai Mara*’ crowd, are not as welcome as they used to be 20 years ago. Why? They create a glass ceiling that Kenyan professionals cannot cross, and are in jobs that plenty of qualified Kenyan professionals can do. In turn, these professionals are emigrating.

    Our immigration laws state that a visa is conditional on a skills transfer programme to a qualified Kenyan within 2 years. It’s rarely done, immigration doesn’t enforce that condition.

    I work in HR and it ticks me off when I have to apply to renew a work permit for an expat whose sell-by date has passed. It annoys me more when the most enthusiastic population of these expats, is my parents’ generation, who 40-odd years ago, were the young, vibrant Kenyans who took over the running of Kenya’s private and public sectors, at independence. It’s neo-colonialism endorsed by the same people who ‘fought’ for Kenya’s liberation, using education as their ‘weapon of choice’.

    That’s a separate discussion topic of how ageism (prejudice based on age) is destroying Kenya!

    Immigration does both – it builds and kills our economy and development.

    * the ‘Maasai Mara crowd’ refers to those expats who work 3 or 4 days a week (and never on weekends), so that their safari-circuit through Kenya’s game parks is completed before their work permits expire. They are also considered to be less competent than their managers/reportees/colleagues/bosses, abdicate their work, don’t share the credit, and never admit their incompetence.

  20. 20 Margaret
    April 1, 2008 at 17:06

    With globalization we have the opening of markets for goods and capital markets. Why doesn’t globalization apply to the third leg of the stool, labor markets?

    Salisbury Mills, NY

  21. 21 Scott Millar
    April 1, 2008 at 17:06

    These are foolish questions to ask and have answered by anecdotes from listeners. It doesn’t make any difference what “I feel” about the benefits of immigration on my country’s economy. You answer this with statistical facts – not with subjective experiences or hearsay.

    -Portland, Oregon

  22. April 1, 2008 at 17:10

    It is unconscionable to pay people less than a living wage, no matter what country they come from. Our supposedly compassionate society needs to pay the extra penny or two that will provide for living wages for all employees. There are no demeaning jobs, just demeaning wages. Many job now taken by immigrants were formerly union jobs.

    San Francisco

  23. 23 Brodie
    April 1, 2008 at 17:12

    The dark dirty secret of American immigration is that our quotas for visas are so low, most immigrants are required to obtain fake social security numbers. That means when they pay payroll taxes, as the vast majority of migrants do, that money that they paid never gets returned to them in the form of benefits. They withdraw from their social security as they grow older.
    What all the anti-immigrant pundits have ignored is the fact that our social security system receives several billion dollars every year from people that will never be able to withdraw that money, and that is the only way our social security system stays afloat. People that say they are a drain on the economy just haven’t looked at the numbers.

  24. April 1, 2008 at 17:15

    The recent negative attitudes in the United States towards hispanic immigrants is going in the direction of the climate of Germany prior to WWII. Jews were ostracized then, illegals in the U.S. now. Hate crimes towards hispanics are on the rise, people are losing their jobs, walls are being erected to keep people out, even a town in oregon tried to eliminate all illegals – to create an illegal free zone.

    China has done so much more to take jobs away from Americans and weaken the economy.

    As per usual, stupid Americans have it all wrong.

    Susan Masson
    Portland, Oregon – United States

  25. 25 Ryan - Oklahoma
    April 1, 2008 at 17:16

    I don’t know if immigration makes me or my fellow natural citizens wealthier, but I do know that for many who come to this country, their dreams, hopes and prayers are much more achievable that where they lived before. As such, I welcome anyone who is willing to live by our laws and work hard to make themselves, our society, and our country better.

  26. April 1, 2008 at 17:17

    Here in the te US we have the illegal immigration problem that skews the debate. Most of the legal immigrants boost the economy by bringing unique knowledge bases and good work ethics to our shores. The illegal immigrants however drain our social resources and use up tax monies better spent on legal residents.

    Adam in Portland, USA

  27. April 1, 2008 at 17:21

    I have been working in Belgium, Europe for many years and paying thousands of euro in tax.


  28. April 1, 2008 at 17:21

    I can solve all immigration problems with q change to the tax code.

    Bart in Oregon, USA

  29. April 1, 2008 at 17:22

    There was a new report this morning about the US state of Arizona proposing to import guest workers from Mexico because employers like steel producers couldn’t find American workers to fill positions. With all of the jobless steel workers in Pennsylvania I find it shocking that they couldn’t encourage Americans to move to their state. This is especially true when the following story is about the dwindling economy of Detroit. There are strong political and economic forces behind illegal immigration.

    Last year there were reports of farmers here in California who couldn’t find workers to bring in their crops. I have lived in San Francisco for twenty years and the unemployment rate for blacks in my city has almost always been double the national average. Instead of luring illegals or paying to recruit guest workers from Mexico – I think the farmer’s group should have tried to import guest workers from San Francisco.

    Legal immigrants with limited language skills often have to compete with the economic migrants that are here illegally. You can’t divorce the two groups because the illegals drive down wages the legal immigrants require more government support to be fully self sufficient.

    Thanks for discussing this important topic.

    Courtney in San Francisco

  30. April 1, 2008 at 17:26

    Unchecked/unplanned immigration is dangerous for any economy as its tends to put pressure on the infrastructure, terrorist threats, social instability etc. However, planned immigration is good as immigrants are chosen for their skills rather then their nationality. In today’s globalised world of WTO when the developed countries are looking at the developing economies for their market it would be detrimental for any country to put unreasonable restrictions on movement of people and create unnecessary barriers.

    Sumeet in India

  31. April 1, 2008 at 17:27

    Immigration has many consequences to the entire economy. Remittances go support the economy of the economy of the imported labor.

    Educational services are not supported by the imported labor. In the US, we have H1B visas for High Tech labor. This imported labor has created extreme competition for these jobs, thus, driving the wages down. As a High Tech worker, I find it distressing that wages have declined for those in my field since the year 2000. The quality of the programming is often low due to the translation issues that occur. Requirements gathering is a complicated process and Foreign Nationals often cannot understand requirements.

    Basically, imported labour does not help or assist the economy.

    This discrepancy in the benefits of immigration is also caused by the US economy switching from a Manufacturing Economy to a Service Economy. I cannot tell you how many call-center jobs have been lost to foreign countries, but I work with coworkers whose spouses are losing jobs due to closing call-centers.

    Globalization does not assist citizens of an economy.

    in Portland, Oregon – United States

  32. 32 Scott Millar
    April 1, 2008 at 17:29

    Immigration certainly helped and is helping to construct the excessively tacky city of Dubai.

    -Portland, Oregon

  33. April 1, 2008 at 17:30

    Blaming immigration for the lack in rise of median wages is a racist ploy by the very people who are responsible for the lack in rise of real wages.

    Portland, Oregon

  34. 34 Scott Millar
    April 1, 2008 at 17:31

    You should just change the topic to “Are you xenophobic?” – because this discussion is completely subjective.

    -Portland, Oregon

  35. April 1, 2008 at 17:31

    Namibia’s policy is to only allow others to work here if no local person can be found to do the job, or if the person is bringing in a large amount of cash. Either way it is benefitting the country & its people.

    Chris in Namibia

  36. April 1, 2008 at 17:32

    I find it interesting that Europeans are complaining about immigation from countries that they colonized and robbed of their human and natural resources. The wealth of Europe and America is intimately tied to past institutions of slavery and colonization. If these nations were to provide reparations for their past misdeeds, perhaps poorer countries would have the resources to employ their own citizens.

    Myron in the US

  37. April 1, 2008 at 17:35

    it can be of detriment to the economy when the government allows to provisions that enable corporations to exploit these workers by giving them lower wages. Someone who immigrates and has similar or great skills than their local peers should not be paid less, but often this is the case.


  38. April 1, 2008 at 17:36

    Benefits of economic immigration only go to employers via cheaper labour. It is harmful to indigenous workers on low wage.

    Dermot in Surrey, UK

  39. 39 Lode
    April 1, 2008 at 17:36

    The issue wether or not immigrated workers help boost the economy has been a debate a few times here in belgium and perhaps one that the EU in total has been pondering on.

    Being a member state of the EU facilitates foreign workers to more easely start working in another member state.

    As this does give some clear advantages to the country these people seek employement (they do so by filling in jobs for which the host country can not find enough skilled or willing people) it also has a negative effect on the ammount of unemployed persons.

    As the case in belgium some heavy debates arised a few years back about wether or not to cap the number of foreigners employed in belgium. This because there was a shortage in the construction sector and these places were filled by cheap and willing leighbour forces from Poland.

    Immigration workers are a great idea if you want to fill in short term vacancies (wil l boost the economy) but to solve the main issue we should try and work on getting training your own homegrown employees to fill vacant jobs.

  40. 40 Jon
    April 1, 2008 at 17:37

    I’m english & live in sweden. I hope I bring more money into sweden, as I hope my swedish counterparts living in the UK. Where do you seperate the line of immigrants? How’s of benifit or not. Be specific on what a negative immigrant is or a positive one. How can you group the word immigrant all together?

  41. 41 steve
    April 1, 2008 at 17:42


    hate to tell you this, but being an immigrant doesn’t necessarily mean you are a of a different race than the new country. You cannot shout racism every time you see something you don’t approve of.

  42. April 1, 2008 at 17:42

    When assessing the economic impact of immigration, we should not leave out the depressing effect low labour costs have on prices, to the benefit of rich and poor.


    Seattle , Washington

  43. April 1, 2008 at 17:42

    I think it is very disappointing to hear Americans talking this way about the large minority presence within the states and how much hard work we put into American Economics. Farm workers We use immigrant workers (legal or Illegal) to keep costs down on consumer goods.

    Ben in Los Angeles, California, USA

  44. April 1, 2008 at 17:43

    Is a strictly economic analysis possible without taking into account the social effect immigrants have on the native population for example in serving as health providers and teachers? Are their native patients and students contribution to the economy not dependent on maintaining health and acquiring education?

    Cathryn in Cleveland, Ohio

  45. 45 Sam
    April 1, 2008 at 17:44

    Why monetize the impact of immigration? How about the cultural contributions each individual makes to their new country…and the increased cultural understandings. Here in Oregon my high school son counts among his friends a kid from Sri Lanka, an ethnic Chinese from Malaysia, a Canadian, an Indian and an Irish American. They swap stories, watch cricket from India via the web, eat each others foods, talk about Canadian hockey…what better way for an American boy to learn about the world and to think BEYOND our boarders!!!

    Sam in Beaverton Oregon

  46. 46 Kevin USA
    April 1, 2008 at 17:46

    First off I completely disagree with your panelist who claims that quantifying individual data is difficult. A simple comparative analysis of industry specific fields such as IT would clearly demonstrate that skilled immigrants, here in the US on H-1B visas, have an impact on the bottom line of organizations and therefore on our economy has a whole. Further analysis of their tax structure and use of programs such as Medicad would indicate whether they add or subtract from our countries overall fiscal health.
    What we have here with immigrant workers, skilled or not is the next cycle of slave or free labor and that is low cost or transfer labor. If as a nation of people we choose to view this as a problem then the answer is simple; create the financial incentives to promote the use of local labor and provide the access to education to allow the intellectual and financial mobility of your citizenry.

  47. April 1, 2008 at 17:46

    Immigration is one of the key factors for changing the economic balance of the world. Figures show that 2007 India and china received $27bn and $25.7bn in the form of remittances. With such an inflow it is hardly surprising that those countries have record growth in household pays while its negligible for the first world who serve as the source of this money. I guess they are bound to be upset!

    Jitan in New York, US

  48. April 1, 2008 at 17:51

    While some Africans try to get out of the continent, there are some Africans in the diaspora who want repatriation to go back and build our land.

    Alem in Jamaica

  49. April 1, 2008 at 17:52

    I am a Nigerian and feel immigration is imminent especially when it contributes to the growth of the country’s economy. I also believe that there has been a substantial growth in investment in many African countries. It is essential to note that Nigeria and other African countries depend on skills from the west as far as certain jobs are concerned and so it is unreasonable to stop immigration. In any case, I think the most important thing to do is to stop illegal immigrants which constitute a major problem for any economy. Immigration will no doubt reduce development.

    Cape town, South Africa.

  50. April 1, 2008 at 17:55

    No-one has mentioned that there are vast skill shortages in developing countries that many skilled immigrants have left to go to wealthier countries . These are causing massive problems in those countries. Many African nations in particular have a chronic shortage of skilled medical staff. Of course skills gained and income returned can benefit these countries in some ways, but we must ask if the countries are overall benefiting from the skilled emigration.

  51. 51 steve
    April 1, 2008 at 17:56

    Farm workers don’t use illegal immigrants to keep prices down. They use them to keep their profits up. If they claim they would have to charge $12 for lettuce, then nobody would buy it. They use to have Americans do farm work, and it didn’t cost an arm and a leg back then, now most farming is done by illegals and prices haven’t dropped, yet prices haven’t dropped. They haven’t passed on the savings to consumers, they just pocketed the extra money while breaking laws by hiring illegals, and encouraging to come here, which is a train on the taxpayer who pays their medical bills.

  52. April 1, 2008 at 18:01

    Regarding illegal immigration, people don’t hate or disfavor illegal worker necessarily b/c of mis-placed anger. That argument belittles their intellect. Assuming arguendo that all illegal workers here were made legal and made full citizens tomorrow, blunting the arguments of racism, etc, when we will secure the border? If the border to remain open, why are we taking our shoes off at the airport?

    More seriously, why doesn’t public radio focus on what the gov’t of Mexico does to provide services to its own citizens?

    Rampant corruption, bothentrenched for years, and more recently by narco-dollars that reach deep into the police, military and gov’t, somehow goes un-examined by the press.

    Let’s have a grand accounting of what illegal labor provides tempered by what it costs now and in the future and send a bill for the difference to Mexico.

    Anonymous in San Francisco

  53. April 1, 2008 at 18:01

    I am a Jamaican living and working in Trinidad and Tobago. It seems to me that the industralized countries have a sweet deal and want to keep it. You close your borders to our people while we open our borders to your goods, thus keeping the unemployment out of your countries. Why should we buy your goods if we are not allowed to work in your factories?


  54. April 1, 2008 at 18:02

    My Parents left the Dominican Republic for a better life in NY. They have achieved their goals here. I was born in NY and now want to live abroad. I would love to live in the UK, and Spain and a bunch of other places. It is just about impossible for me move to another countries and get a working visa. Immigration leads to knowledge that helps us break the barriers of race, nationality and other such issues that divide humans.

    Eliel from Brooklyn

  55. April 1, 2008 at 18:04

    Borders are Man Made – Wherever we are born is a matter of chance, of luck. We all need to share the opportunity.

    Kim in Portland, Oregon – US

  56. 56 George USA
    April 1, 2008 at 18:04

    In the US illegals by number have contributed most to the real estate bubble,

    profits that did not circulate or prosper the general economy.

    They have been a negative factor to keep wages from pacing inflation.

    Jobs were done by Americans before profit seekers had the borders opened 20 years ago.

    Until profits from low wages cranked up slogans,

    no one pretended there were any jobs in America, Americans would not or did not do.

  57. 57 Vijay srao
    April 1, 2008 at 18:07

    Apparently the report said immigration benefits only employers and immigrants and puts pressure on housing.
    Isn’t that enough of a effect to conclude that immigration is good,because employers pay taxes and increase the nations economic activity, employees(immigrants) buy goods and services and also keep house prices high(something British people are obsessed with).
    The House of Lords should make a report about emigration ,why do people leave the UK,why has there been a brain drain since the Second World War ,what is wrong with British Society that causes people to leave for the south of france ,australia new zealand ,canada,u.s.a and tuscany.
    I suppose emigration must be bad for employers and deflates house prices.

  58. April 1, 2008 at 18:12

    In italy politicians want to curb immigration. The problem is immigrants do the jobs politicians children despise and wouldn’t even consider. It’s double standards. Italy needs immigrants but also needs to have a coherent system to deal with both legal and illegal immigration.

    Simon in Italy

  59. April 1, 2008 at 18:15

    Immigrants in Nigeria are not benefiting rather,they deprieve qualified Nigerians of job opportunities & basic social ammenities.

    Clement in Nigeria

  60. April 1, 2008 at 18:15

    Immigration and exchanging of professionals would grossly yield and strenghten economies of countries.

    Babagana in Nigeria

  61. April 1, 2008 at 18:18

    Some migrants help at least 20.% growth in the UK economy at least, with different skills and those with less education simply helps the labour force.

    David in Accra, Ghana

  62. April 1, 2008 at 18:24

    As long as we African’s continue to have incompetent leaders like Mugabi & Kufour. You will always have problems of illegal immigrants in UK and the USA. Idris (immigrant from cameroon in South Africa)
    helps the labour force there.

    Ahmed in Ghana

  63. April 1, 2008 at 18:26

    Lets face the facts…who does the minor work if not the immigrants? Whilst the citizens spend time in luxury..

    Felix in Kisumu

  64. April 1, 2008 at 18:26

    Economic hardship and political temperatures are the main cause of immigration. And I think it should be freed on reasons.

    Bata in Moyo, Uganda

  65. April 1, 2008 at 18:27

    Centuries ago, the British economy benefitted immensely from forcibly immigrating people, mostly africans to their country in the slave trade to work under the most inhuman conditions. Why are they now complaining when we now immigrate to britain ourselves to earn better living..


  66. 66 George USA
    April 1, 2008 at 18:31

    Sitting on a bench by the Brownsville Bus Station overlooking the Rio Grande,

    I saw illegals swimming the river, six here, ten there, and said, “Why not!”.

    I went to Mexico, studied, learned the language and got a degree, had a business.

    Then I went to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic: did more study and another business.

    You can reap from the other side of the water.

    Education and business opportunities exist in poor nations where people are trying to escape to the USA.

    To all the frustrated people upset because of illegals (“wets” as we call them on the Rio Grande since they are literally wet):

    swim the border, but wear a condom- that water is polluted.

    There is a whole world out there.

  67. April 1, 2008 at 18:32

    This is a very mischievous question. The truth is that if it was not for immigration, the USA and the U.K would have lost all or most of their economic, political and military power, because of abortion, infertility and loss of human resources. African nations would have gained all or most of world economic, political and military power, because of their rich fertility, rich human resources, resourcefulness, and resilience. Political strategies were used to make Africans poor in order to force them out of Africa to the U.S and the U.K and use them to sustain the wealth of the U.S and the U.K.
    C.F Westhoof (1986) wrote: “If it were not for immigration (under the present low infertility rate), the U.S (also the U.K) would stop growing …”

    Prince in Lagos, Nigeria

  68. 68 Ana Milena, Colombia
    April 1, 2008 at 18:47

    🙂 Hi!

    In my country, immigration has grought economic benefits, undoubtedly. I think we’ve got nothing to worry about.

    Worries would be mainly for industralised countries. Although some people consider immigrants a drawback for their own progress as they obtain benefits that locals should get, some people find this issue positive. I’m talking about employers who take advantage of immigrants (mainly illegal ones) just to make them work as much as they can just for a little pay. Immigrants have no choice as sometimes it’s their unique way to earn some cents.

  69. 69 Zita
    April 1, 2008 at 19:25

    8.15 p.m. British time
    I can add another point to this argument about whether the economy is benefitted. Immigrant workers contribute also by buy British goods, sending British goods to their home countries, and rarely send money away from the country. They collect the money and may send a prepaid air ticket to their family members back home to visit them. These visitors in turn spend their money here and a stream of visitors can continue while the immigrant worker is here. Not all immigrants workers settle here. They spend a few years and move on. Most of them have perfectly happy home backgrounds in their country to go back to.
    I am not saying this should go on as Britain has reached saturation point. So it is time to make changes in policy.
    If the industries, businesses and governments recruit only their absoute needs in the way of immigrant work force, then it cannot be harmful to the economy. But economic immigration per se has to be stopped.

  70. 70 bjay
    April 1, 2008 at 23:17

    Does immigration make you and your country wealthier?

    Voice over matter.
    Are they contributing enormously is fallacious .
    Ask the tribal-native on equal footing. Europe Asia and Africa.
    Today these particular parts of the world they become a social burden on the society.
    The politicians say-we tax them.
    YE! Just look into your ‘VANITY MIRROR ‘ and ask yourself to whom’s’ welfares.
    The level burden is depending on geography.

    bjay’ connotation with accent-to your liking.

  71. 71 jason
    April 2, 2008 at 02:03

    Steve @ 5:42 US Pacific Time

    Sorry to tell you that most immigrants are not white. In 2003, only 13% of foreign born residents of the US were of European nationalities, the bulk coming from Asia or Latin America.
    My point was that trying to link the lack in rise of real wages to immigration seems like an attempt to shift blame for the average person’s economic situation away from those responsible to those most likely to be vulnerable, poor, low skilled and not white.

    Jason in Oregon

  72. 72 Fonjong Terence Tah
    April 2, 2008 at 10:00

    Good day Ros,and everyone,
    We need the help of others in order to succeed in life.Immigration has made my country wealthier in some aspects.In my country Cameroon,most of the companies in the economic capital,Douala are own by the foreign investors.This has reduced the rate of unemployment.On my own part,I’m an immigrant.I’m writing from Cairo Egypt.This country has gain a lot from me and even from others immigrants.Immigration can only make me wealthier or my country,depending on the way the government of my country will manage the resources coming out of immigration.

    Many thanks.Have a great day.
    Fonjong Terence Tah

  73. April 2, 2008 at 11:15

    Hi Ros,

    Thanks for the email!

    I think that it is important that new migrants to this country should
    A) respect our laws and our multi-culturalism
    B) speak our language.

    Southampton has one of the largest polish communities in the UK, and I have a number of friends who live with polish migrants. When they speak English they interact with their house mates and are on the whole quite nice people. Yet when they only speack basic English it is difficult to make friends with them, or to get to know them better. They become isolated, and it creates and uncomfortable situation in shared accomidation.

    As to the economic benefits of migration, I would like to think I would have equal ease moving to another European Country to work if I wanted to. Although I do think that immigrants who come to this country and collect benefits without contributing to the economy through paying taxes should not be allowed. Whilst Britian is a tolerant multi cultural society, if you are not prepared to pay tax towards the benefit of the whole you shouldnt stay here.

  74. 74 primal convoy in Japan
    April 2, 2008 at 11:56


    Please don’t take my word for it. Below are some links concerning Japan’s attitude towards immigration:


    “Several themes have emerged in Japan’s immigration policy in recent years. First, there is a growing perception among the public that migrants, particularly those with unauthorized or questionable status in the country, are contributing to the rising crime rate and general deterioration of public security…

    Second, the ageing of the population — and the beginning in 2005 of a population decline — have raised the urgency with which Japan must alleviate labor shortages and fiscal burdens resulting from these demographic trends. In particular, the business community has stepped up its call for a relaxation of labor-import control.

    Third, the misuse or abuse of certain visa categories by both foreign nationals and Japanese employers has also attracted much attention. Of particular note is the training system, which small- and medium-sized Japanese firms use to hire cheap, unskilled foreign labor in the name of training. There have been many reports of excessively low wages and harsh working conditions and foreign trainees disappearing and becoming “unaccounted for.” ”

    This highlights some of the main problems.

    For more, perhaps subjective views about Japan and its attitude to foreigners, check this site out:

    http://www.debito.org (yes, I know I always link to this site, but it does highlight a lot of my key points, even though I don’t always agree with everything written there)

    Hope this points you in the right direction for your own research folks!

  75. 75 primal convoy in Japan
    April 2, 2008 at 12:03

    Oh, and don’t forger our beloved BEEB’s own view of the subject:

    1/ Japan plans foreign fingerprinting: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4781260.


    2/ Japan racism ‘deep and profound’: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4671687.stm (actually, the UN inspector in the article met with Debito and looked at some of his “evidence” of racism, including a pic taken by lil’ old me. I accept cheques or paypal, btw, if you wish to dish out praise).

    3/ Japan mulls multicultural dawn: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/3708098.stm

    One of the key things here is that, in both the media, government speeches and police statistics, foreigners in general are regarded as “potential criminals” (to steal a well known feminist’s quote). Even though the official stats are contrary to the publics view. Most pundits say that this is nothing new with any government, who wish to use the “fear card” to gain votes and use foreigners as a scapegoat (I’m sure the tabloids in the UK and other countries have their own, from “immigrants” to “travellers/gypsies”, etc.

    Hope this helps and my apologies for the many and long posts.

  76. 76 VictorK
    April 2, 2008 at 13:10

    @ primal convoy: thanks very much for the links.

  77. 77 Syed Hasan Turab
    April 2, 2008 at 23:40

    Migration always plays an important role in any society specially from jeeens point of view and always produce a vibrant nation physically, morally & economically.
    Because of migration future of the world will be under command & controll of three nations i.e Pakistan, Isriel & USA.

  78. 78 primal convoy in Japan
    April 3, 2008 at 02:36

    @ VictorK: You are welcome. I hope the posting of links here is ok. I DO keep doing it but I feel that other’s opinions are just as important as my own (if not more!).

  79. 79 Ros Atkins
    April 3, 2008 at 13:56

    Immigration is one of the key factors for changing the economic balance of the world. Figures show that 2007 India and china received $27bn and $25.7bn in the form of remittances. With such an inflow it is hardly surprising that those countries have record growth in household pays while its negligible for the first world who serve as the source of this money. I guess they are bound to be upset!!!Jitad

  80. 80 Phil
    April 23, 2008 at 22:49

    Americans were brainwashed with the idea that the country was
    becoming overpopulated and that they should limit the average number
    of children per family to 2.4 . This would result in a stable population
    The govt’ borrowed and spent over 3 trillion dollars in the last
    7 years stimulating the economy causing it to grow.
    You can’t have a stable population level and a growing economy
    at the same time.
    The U.S. should abandon ZPG (zero population growth).
    There is book about this called The Population Bomb .
    It was written in the 1960’s.

  81. 81 tina
    June 10, 2009 at 22:45

    My post is about all those Polise immigrants that are coming here in this visa; then receive their student visa to remain in the United States. The go to these post-secondary schools teach English as a Second Language. What’s wrong with Poland? Don’t they have their own internal programs to teach English? I don’t get it; most every country teaches English. They come here in numbers, only work in their small communities thinking that they are taking our jobs and no they are not because the 2nd language in the U.S. is Spanish, not Polish; they limit themselves to learn about other cultures and the American way of doing business therefore, they are not taking our jobs and never will. I believe that Immigration should take a greater look at those student visas and begin questioning those that are in the U.S. going to school here for ESL and attending our Universities just to maintain their F1 and Student Visa’s. There are a great number of them and I am tired of the U.S. opening their doors to Russan and Polish immigrants that hate the U.S. but, want to come here and use our resources; this should be used for our American Citizens, born and raised. Our government is giving them a free ride by using FASFA our financial aid system leaving us in the whole.

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