The EU & I: IMMIGRATION, the cursed word?

Nobody under the age of 60 seems to want to discuss it as it is “racist”. Everybody over the age of 60 can’t get enough of debating it. Vote Leave seem to have it as a central argument, while Stronger In do very little to convince that it isn’t a problem. One of the biggest concerns, particularly among older voters (who will have the highest turnout), EU immigration is something that Stronger In really need to work on.

Today I will consider the evidence and dispel some myths.

The numbers

3 million Europeans live in the UK (roughly 5% of the population). However 1.2 million UK citizens live in the EU. Net migration has been increasing and was at its highest levels in 2015. Net EU migration is 185,000. It is worth noting that the rise in net immigration has been mainly caused by less people emigrating as opposed to more people immigrating.


We also need to get it out of our heads that every Turkish/Romanian/Bulgarian person will come to the UK. 0.07% of Polish and Romanian people have immigrated to the UK. Were Turkey to join the EU, with these figures, it is reasonable to assume the amount of inward immigration would be close to 50,000 as opposed to the millions claimed in the tabloids. We have more immigrants from non EU countries such as Australia, India, America, China and Spain than we do from Poland and Romania.

Take back control of our borders

Let us assume that immigration is bad (I will relax this assumption later). About half of immigration to the UK is from outside of the EU. By leaving Europe, there will be no change in the amount of immigration from outside the EU.

It is my strong belief, that should Britain decide to leave the European Union, that Britain would not “regain control of our borders”. Two models that have been used as examples for if we were to leave the EU are Norway and Switzerland. In the future I hope to write about each model in more detail, however today I will just talk about borders.

Norway have an agreement in which they are part of the European Economic Area (EEA). This means that they contribute money to the EU development fund and are part of the EU single market. Part of the single market is the free movement of people. Therefore by being part of this, Norway allow for free, uncontrolled immigration from the EU as part of the Schengen zone.

Switzerland use bilateral agreements. They are also part of the single market. Again this means that they allow free movement of people in and out of their country.

These two most popular models have not lead to more border control. If you think that we can make a good deal involving the single with control of our borders, you are kidding yourself. Leaving the European Union will not give the country more control of immigration.


Now here we have a problem. Overpopulation is a huge worry. However not in the way you think. Our problem is not immigration, but an ageing population.

People are living longer, and while that is socially lovely, economically it is shit. In economics we have a term called a dependency ratio. The dependency ratio is a measure showing the number of dependents (aged 0-14 and over the age of 65) to the total population (aged 15-64). The dependency ratio is rising. This is not good.

As people live longer we have to fund more pensions, more healthcare and more social care. The way things are going, the economy will not be able to deal with the strain and will be in more fiscal debt.

Debt dependent on immigration (Source: Telegraph)


There are three ways we can deal with the impending crisis of not having enough working people:

  1. Have more children: The sustainable rate of reproduction is 2.3 children per couple. At the moment we have 1.9 children. This may be due to more women in work having career goals and not wishing to have children. If you don’t want immigration, tell your wife to stop working.
  2. Euthanise the elderly: Stop pensions and health care after a certain age or full stop. It is a way, but I would rather live down the street from a polish person than kill the septo/octo/nonogenerians. If you don’t want immigration, then kill your grandparents.
  3. Immigration: Bring in people from abroad to contribute to our economy, working and paying tax. This can make up for the lack of births. You don’t need to tell your wife to stop working and to have kids and you don’t have to kill grandma.

Ok, so the suggestions may have been slightly over the top, but the thing is that even if you don’t like immigration, it becomes a necessary evil. Japan’s economy is one of the most stagnant in the world due to an over-aged population and we could be next.

“There is clear evidence that, since migrants tend to be more concentrated in the working-age group relatively to the rest of the population, immigration has a positive effect on the public sector’s debt dynamics.”

-Office for Budget Responsibility


Clogging up our NHS & Schools

Many people blame the filling up of NHS and not getting their first school choice on immigrants. “They are an economic burden who don’t help at all.” Between 2001 & 2011, European migrants gave a net fiscal contribution of £20 billion. (British citizens caused a net loss) This is because they are of working age and well educated. Most of what the government spends on us, we use before we’re eighteen. So migrants cost the government and the tax payer far less money, but still contribute in tax.

Net spending by different citizens in the UK


The reason that schools are struggling is due to underfunding by local councils. Austerity means all departments are cutting public spending in order to reduce the deficit. You can’t expect a same quality service with less money. It is also a factor in the NHS. As is the fact that people are living longer and requiring more health care. However we don’t want to blame the government and don’t want to blame the elderly. Thus we create these unfair and statistically unjustified attitudes towards immigrants.

The Labour market:

They have no skills

EU migrants are not a flurry of unskilled labour. A greater proportion of Eastern European migrants have university degrees than those in the British workforce.

They Dont Work and Just Take Benefits

Migrants are 43% less likely than British people to be on state benefits. Furthermore, David Cameron’s negotiations started paving the way so that migrants can’t claim benefits in their first four years in the country

The unemployment rate of UK Natives is 4.4%, while the unemployment rate of EU immigrants is 4.3%. A greater proportion of them work.



“[New legislation will] provide for an alert and safeguard mechanism that responds to situations of inflows of workers from other member states of an exceptional magnitude over an extended period of time… the implementing act would authorise the member state to limit the access of union workers newly entering its labour market to in-work benefits for a total of up to four years from the commencement of employment.”

They take our jobs

So we know they work, but does that mean they take our jobs? In game theory, there is such thing as a zero-sum game. If player A becomes better off, player B becomes equally worse off. This may be true in monopoly, but it is not true in real life.

If an EU migrant gains a job at the expense of the UK citizen, the citizen appears to lose. However, the EU migrant spends money in the country. An increase in demand leads to an increase in supply, thus companies need more workers and the UK citizen, who previously lost out on a job, gains a new job and both the citizen and migrant are employed and GDP is higher.

Those migrants who had been in the UK for five years or more were not found to displace British-born workers. Any displacement whatsoever is not permanent.

They drive down wages

One argument is that they push down wages, particularly in the low skilled sector. However, evidence shows this not to be true. For low-skilled workers, EU immigration has had a minimal impact on pay (1% in eight years). Real wage falls have been down the slow economic recovery as opposed to immigration.

In conclusion

There are many issues and myths about migration which cause contention. There are many I haven’t talked about. Migration from OUTSIDE of the EU can potentially be seen as economically harmful, however migration from INSIDE of the EU has many economic benefits.

The point of this blog is inform, entertain and enlighten. Today I have talked about a controversial issue (and I know from viewing statistics you guys prefer to read the controversial posts) and hopefully this will make some Brexiteers (or Beleavers?) rethink, or some neutrals lean more towards remain.

We have less than one week until the EU referendum and I am genuinely scared. I think there is a real chance that we could leave. So I beg anyone reading this, go out and vote, talk to your family and get them to vote. Try to convince them to remain. It’s our future.

-Swift Economist

An extra note:

The murder of Jo Cox MP was an attack on all of us and the values that we hold dear. Democracy and freedom are the corner stone of our society. Mrs Cox stood for them. She stood for tolerance, she was charitable and she went above and beyond to do what was best for her constituents.

She stood up for what she believed in. She tried to make our world better. I would like to end this post by sharing her maiden speech in the house of commons.

Rest in peace


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