The never-ending labyrinth of migration

Advance Reading: Our Leader in July 15, 2022 Digital Edition

New Zealanders are famous for hospitality and helpful attitude (Auckland Airport Photo)

Immigration has never been a favourite of politicians.

There is no record of satisfied people, least of all employers and migrants themselves.

No one should get away, not least politicians, saying that New Zealand has messed up its immigration policy, because all political parties are guilty of mismanagement.

And that guilt is almost universal.

Look around the world, you will get the idea.

The demand for labour, especially migrants far outstrips supply, leaving a void.

The mess in Europe

“Where did all the workers go?,” asks the Economist. “The question feels ubiquitous in Europe. From French cafés to Irish construction crews, Czech car factories and Italian farms, employers once assumed cheap staff could be summoned at will.

In no sector is the lack of staff so glaring as in air travel. For weeks, tourists at some of Europe’s biggest airports have faced serpentine queues to catch their flights, assuming that those flights have not been cancelled due to the shortage of hands.

Going on a relaxing holiday has never seemed so stressful. In this economy, everybody in Europe can find work; as a result, Europe is not working. After two years of pandemic uncertainty, tourism is back (minus a few Asian visitors). For Europe, which attracts half the world’s international travellers, that ought to be a boon.

In June, just as resorts and city centres ought to have been filling up, carriers in Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain cancelled nearly 8000 flights, roughly three times the figure in 2019, according to Cirium, a consultancy.

Everyone favours immigration

Looking around the developed world, most governments are in favour of immigration, despite equally vociferous defenders, who often fight on nativist turf, citing data to respond to claims about migrants’ damaging effects on wages or public services. Those data are indeed on the migrants’ side.

Though some research suggests that native workers with skill levels similar to those of arriving migrants take a hit to their wages because of increased migration, most analyses find that they are not harmed and that many eventually earn more as competition nudges them to specialise in more demanding occupations.

Self-interest Strategy

Appealing to self-interest is a more effective strategy. In countries with acute demographic challenges, migration is a solution to the challenges posed by ageing: immigrants’ tax payments help fund native pensions; they can help ease a shortage of care workers. In New Zealand for instance, people worry that foreigners compete with New Zealanders for the care of the Public Health Service but pay less attention to the migrants helping to staff the system.

New Zealanders enjoy other benefits, too. As migrants prosper and have children, they become better able to contribute to Science, the Arts and entrepreneurial activity.

This is the Steve Jobs case for immigration: the child of a Muslim man from Syria might create a world-changing company in his new home.

As the Economist would say, Europeans are not more deserving of high incomes than Chinese or Indians. And the discomfort some feel at the strange dress or speech of a passer-by does not remotely justify trillions in economic losses foisted on the world’s poorest people.

No one should be timid about saying so, loud and clear.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share this story

Related Stories

Indian Newslink

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement