A conservative defence of immigration

The standard view of the right-wing perception on immigration is always seen as a negative.

The right are normally believed to be against immigration on economic reasons of protecting British jobs for British people. The logic behind this is if you increase the supply of labour then there will naturally be unemployment. However, the problem with seeing the economy this way is it's overly fixed. The economy is not fixed it is fluid; when one thing changes it will cause infinitely more microeconomic changes eventually triggering larger impacts. This is why we can’t act this simplistically in economics. This is why we must analyse data to see what actually does happen when a liberal approach to immigration is adopted. From this we can see that yes, immigration does increase the supply of labour, but what immigration also will do is increase the demand for labour.

The entire anti-immigration economic argument is that immigrants undercut low skilled British workers, by creating greater levels of competition meaning that domestic unemployment will grow. However, by accepting these lower-paid jobs, further jobs are actually created. By allowing firms to cut their costs by reducing employment costs they will be able to increase their profits, further allowing them to reinvest and grow. Therefore, by allowing a more competitive labour market to develop we will not just fill job openings but create more jobs through the creation of economic growth.

However, this isn’t just me making esoteric claims about the economy; the data supports and shows that there is clear economic advantages of a liberal approach to immigration. A 2015 paper Jonathan Wadsworth of LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance found that there is no correlation between immigration and levels of unemployment, nor do immigrants decrease an areas wage rate. In fact, some areas actually saw a rise in wages and a fall in unemployment, despite huge increases in immigration. However, the overall average revealed that immigration had minimal effect on the labour markets.

What is, in fact, most important about this study is it completely ruled out the belief that immigration hurts low skilled workers describing there being “no evidence” for this claim whatsoever. This is not just the isolated claim of one study but can be shown consistently across other papers, notably by Sara Lemos and Jonathan Portes in a 2008 paper. Thus, the economic myths of immigrations negatives appear ungrounded, however immigration isn’t just something that isn’t a problem, it is something that must be embraced for its economic benefits.

The bulk of the over 600,000 people who arrived into the UK in the year ending in September 2018 are not the benefit scroungers or health tourists we hear about in the tabloids. They are economic migrants moving here for a better life. This is because they are young, entrepreneurial working people who want to make a success of themselves. The benefit of this is that where these people come here to make a success of themselves, they form companies, succeed in companies, and increase the wealth of the country they move to. This is confirmed in that same report from Wadsworth which revealed that most immigrants are better educated and younger than their UK born equivalents; this is especially true when looking at immigrants from EU15 nations. Most importantly, it reveals that immigrants are

overrepresented in very high skilled professions, these tend to be the ones which are the best growth-creators, further showing us that immigration is a huge benefit to our economy, and to our country.

As well as, clear economic reasons for a liberal approach to immigration there are also clear philosophical reasons for this as well, based on what truly is the rights of government. Suppose a farmer wants to hire some Polish people to pick strawberries on his farm. For the state to intervene and prohibit this would necessarily violate the basic rights of both the farmer and the Polish workers. Both parties have voluntarily consented to this economic transaction in which no harm is being caused to third parties (as shown by the above economic analysis). Thus, any immigration policy that prevents this globalised specialisation is simply a government overstepping where its roles are required.

So, to unnecessarily deny immigration is almost always an absurd thing to do. Economically, immigrants benefit the country to which they move to and philosophically a government is overstepping its role to prevent any migration unless strictly necessary (i.e. the prospective migrant being a violent criminal). For many Brexit is an opportunity to slow down the influx of migration into this country, but it's not. We need to be creating an environment to attract migration, so we can trigger economic growth which will help us create a vibrant, wealthy and thriving nation.

Thus, post-Brexit I hope we can take advantage of opportunities to see people from all nations coming to the UK, because in the end this was will help us create a better future

by Tom Spencer

  • Grey Twitter Icon
  • Grey YouTube Icon

© The New Briton 2020