The anti-immigration voices have lost the economic argument

The economics of immigration are unambiguous: the anti-immigration voices have lost the argument and should move on.

The economics of immigration are unambiguous: the anti-immigration voices have lost the argument and should move on

Not everything is about money and there are a number of persuasive arguments as to why people are concerned about the scale of immigration to the UK.

Social cohesion, a sense of community and fears about a weakening of British national identity shouldn’t be breezily dismissed simply as ‘xenophobia’ or racism (although that’s sometimes what they might be).

That said, those arguing against migration, especially migration from elsewhere in the European Union, tend overwhelmingly to focus on fiscal arguments – so they will say that migrants are a ‘drain on the benefits system’ or are a ‘net loss’ to the economy.

The arguments around the supposed ‘magnetic pull’ of benefits have been debunked already; and today yet another study shows that migrants have overwhelmingly paid more into the chancellor’s coffers than they have taken out.

A new report, put out by University College London’s Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration, finds that immigrants from the 10 countries which joined the EU in 2004 contributed £4.96bn more in taxes up to 2011 than they took out through the use of benefits and public services. The study factors in immigrants’ proportionate share of public service costs.

A windfall, in other words.

This compares extremely favourably with British nationals, who over the same period were a drain on the British economy to the tune of £617bn.

The net gain from immigration from the rest of the EU (excluding the 10 new countries) was £15bn – again that includes the costs associated with public service use.

Migrants from outside the EU contributed £5bn on the same basis.

Professor Christian Dustmann, co-author of the study, said: “A key concern in the public debate on migration is whether immigrants contribute their fair share to the tax and welfare systems.

“Our new analysis draws a positive picture of the overall fiscal contribution made by recent immigrant cohorts, particularly of immigrants arriving from the EU.”

He added: “European immigrants, particularly, both from the new accession countries and the rest of the European Union, make the most substantial contributions.

“This is mainly down to their higher average labour market participation compared with natives and their lower receipt of welfare benefits.”

One would hope that this would put an end to the baseless smearing of migrants by right-wing organisations such as Migration Watch. Don’t bet on it, though – Migration Watch are already trying to spin the figures to support their anti-immigrant narrative, despite the above-quoted words of the report’s authors.

This isn’t the first study showing that migrants benefit the British economy, either. According to another study from University College London which came out last year, migrants who have come to the UK since the year 2000 have made a ‘substantial’ contribution to public finances.

As I said at the start of this piece, I do think there are legitimate concerns about the pace of change in Britain today and how that relates to building strong and cohesive communities. However the economics of immigration are unambiguous: the anti-immigration voices have lost that argument and should move on.

James Bloodworth is the editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter

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64 Responses to “The anti-immigration voices have lost the economic argument”

  1. GhostofJimMorrison

    I’d recommend this by James Kirkrup in the Telegraph (christ I never thought I’d recommend the Torygraph to anyone) as an alternative to Bloodworth’s holier-than-thou rubbish.

  2. john knowles

    The terrible truth is that British Governments have given away control and defence of our borders .It is any governments main duty to defend its borders . Then they belittle hard working Britons like me who have worked all our lives keeping them, and building our country ,by saying that immigrants put more than we do into the economy per person . Of course they do . Many of us are retired ,disabled ,or too young to work . Most immigrants are of working age and fit and have no or few children ,so they will put more money in ,for now , especially if you dont include what they cost in reduction of life quality ,increase in housing costs ,need for more spending on schools and education etc . When the get my age 67 ,they will be costing the country a fortune .So will the government then say , we need more immigrants , its a vicious .circle . The best way to get more workers is for the families that are here already ,including British and Europeans to have more children ,bigger families that can help their parents in old age . I am one of those allegedly low productivity {or lazy} Englishmen , at 67 working only 60 hours a week at the moment . I,ve worked abroad and with many nationalities ,and I have never met a non Englishman who can work harder , or better ,or more hours . Lets make our present immigrants happy and part of the community , but close the doors on new ones before it is too late .

  3. Jerry H

    Personally I think divisions are largely down to the fact people have not been able to discuss it properly, it was ignored in the hope it would “sort itself out” and it has festered.

    The point I am at is I dont want to pass responsibility for sorting this mess out onto my kids the way the previous generation passed it onto mine.

    I want it discussed because without that there will never be a solution.

    As for the data, if you look at the BBC article you will see there are different ways to spin it and spun it has been by both sides. I think the truth is probably somewhere in between.

  4. The_Average_Joe_UK

    Fuck off you stupid pratt.

  5. The_Average_Joe_UK

    Because he failed as a Journalist and being a Labour apparatchik is all he’s got.

  6. The_Average_Joe_UK


  7. The_Average_Joe_UK


  8. The_Average_Joe_UK


  9. TN

    Do you ever have anything of value to contribute to this board? You’re a tiresome bore who sounds like he’s rambling 95% of the time.

  10. Rollo10

    The only problem with the UCL report, EU paid for it? The UCL in 2013, received £53 million from the EU and when one pays for a report, one gets the information one pays for? I suppose, as long as they take NHS out of TTIP, you will welcome that with open arms, too? Totally dismissing the fact that some 4 million people will lose their jobs in the Public Sector? TTIP is a power grab by Corporations, hidden in the deal, is the sell-off, of all Governments, public service rights, the spending and jobs, of every government that signs up, in the hands of Corporations? Any PS jobs that can’t go-on-line, will be Franchised out, by the usual suspects, G4S, Serco, Circle-Health et al!
    We all become slaves to the Corporates, who already own our Politicians! Probably why they are scared of Farage getting in, he’s not been bought and can upset the whole plan?

  11. Rollo10

    What trade, have a look around, most EU and US aren’t making anything, because in the 80’s, the Corporations sent all their ‘goods’ out to the Far East, for a bigger profit. Today we are seeing the results! Banks don’t lend to SME’s, only to House buyers, the only thing driving our phoney economy, is ‘Stamp Duty’, collected because the tax payer guaranteed deposits? These ‘buyers’ had no money, it was deposit and no stamp or bust, enter Osborne and his Ponzi scheme! Now as we run out of ‘borrowers’ our economy is slipping?
    The only reason we make ‘cars’ in this country, EU let us, for cheap wages. We’d have been in a sorry state 20 years ago, but then, we would have seen through their plan, even the ‘deal with Vauxhalls Ellesmere Port, 2004, should have rang bells, they only employ 475 people, making 1200 cars a day. Compared to 1964, when they employed 1400, made 550 cars a day? Our car manufacturing was sold out for a reason and it wasn’t ‘bad’ design or engineering, they started using ‘foreign’ steel, for a reason!
    They are hiding unemployment in plain sight, they think that we think we have thousands working in these car plants? No where near what was employed in the 60’s – 70’s? In January 2014, we had 2,272,000 unemployed and 7,856,000 Economically In-Active, today we have 1,952,000 unemployed and 9,028,000 Economically In-Active, 11 million with out work?

  12. LB

    There are some fiddles to look out for.

    1. Pensions. 6,300 per year of accrual. My guess is ommited. They did in previous reports

    2. Marginal costs. Brits pay for all the common goods.

    Points based is a bad idea. There is no guarantee that a points based system delivers people who pay their way.

    Much better is a tax based scheme. After all people will points should make money. Just insist they pay the tax to cover the costs.

  13. LB

    Correct answer.

    Now Sandgate. Just what is it about France that they are seeking asylum in the UK?

  14. Sun

    Institutionalized Liberalism in Academia finds that immigration is a net positive? You don’t say. Except the taxes cannot possibly be that large because they don’t pay a myried of taxes (like income tax) and only sale’s tax.

    First the argument was for selective migration-to allow those with specific skills needed into the country (where a labour market was deficient. Now its as many people as possible because they all bring equal commerce (when it is the case). Selective immigration is where it’s at. The country has gotten WORSE over the centuries and the immigration has widen-so you do the math.

    The real reason is racial. The Left’s desire to as they put it “rub the right’s nose in diversity” and pay back for all the evils white people did in the past. When you ask enough many leftist (not all because I was one) even admit that they’re trying to make Europeans a minority. All across the world we see that groups are not equal. That is why you won’t find a pale butt left winger moving to Saudi Arabia to “enrich” all the special Snowflakes there.”

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