What do you do when work is drying up in your country, and there aren’t enough jobs to go around for the local population, let alone the immigrants who’ve landed in better times? If you’re Japan, the Czech Republic or Spain, you pay them to leave. Would you pay immigrants to leave your country?
Japan is offering around US$3000 to each Latin American national living there, plus the cost of the airfare to go home. (They’re not offering the same to US or European nationals though-make of that what you will). It’s proving to be pretty tempting for many of the low-paid workers who came in the boom years, but are now finding themselves out of a job.
Spain set the example. Since late last year, in a bid to get around 100,000 immigrants to leave, its government has offered six months of unemployment benefits, around $18500, to foreign nationals who in return promise not to come back to Spain for three years. Some 4,000 people have taken the cash so far.
The Czech Republic is offering just under $1000 per migrant to leave.
All these cases have to do with the economic downturn, but of course, when work is scarce, and violence flares up between immigrant and local communities, there is a social knock on. In Northern Ireland this week the government there is paying for the airfares home of around 100 Romanian Gypsies who’ve been the victim of racist violence.
And in the UK a one million pound government scheme to help rejected asylum seekers to return home has resulted in just one family leaving Britain. Critics have called the project a scandal.
Would you like to see your government pay to send immigrants home, especially if they are out of work? If so, how much? Is the six months of unemployment benefit Spain is handing out too generous, or does it need to be that high to ensure those who’ve left stay there?
This article in The Economist argues that it’s a short term solution that doesn’t really address the main problem. Is this just a populist solution, or do you think it would really help to improve the economic outlook in your country?