In the past 20 years, the influx of migrants to the UK has been steadily rising. Figures show that in the last 5 years alone, net long-term migration to the UK was predicted to be roughly 1 million. But has this helped, or hindered our economy?
Typically, those who are immigrating to the UK tend to be of working age, either students or employment seeking. Although it is true they may bring along a dependent family member, the arrival of migrants tends to boost the labour force, consequentially increasing the potential output of our economy and therefore our GDP. Not only do migrants increase the labour force, but also they increase spending within the economy, leading to an increased aggregate demand. It thus follows that there will be an increased demand for labour, which will provide more jobs and further boost our economy.
In parts of the UK a negative stereotype has been assigned to foreigners arriving in the country, with some individuals questioning their work ethic. Whilst this may be true in some cases, it is not a fair assessment to make of a whole population. A large proportion of migrants who relocate to England are professional workers, such as the 26 per cent of NHS doctors being of foreign nationality, which the NHS could not function without. Also, 38 per cent foreign nationals gained a qualification at degree standard or higher, compared to 29 per cent of those UK born.
However, this raises the question as to whether or not it is a good thing for UK born workers. With competition for jobs increasing, are we worse off and less employable than our migrant counterparts? The most recent data available shows a fall in the employment of UK born people over the last 12-month period, whilst employment of migrants continues to increase. Additionally, from 2.9 million jobs created in the years from 1997 – 2011, 75 per cent of these were awarded to non-UK born workers.
So, should we accept migrants into our country in the vast amounts that we are? From a humanitarian perspective, we should allow those seeking refuge, such as the recent Syrian asylum seekers. From an economic point of view, a rise in net immigration has created more jobs, lowered unemployment rates, and boosted our GDP. Surely it is only fair that the most qualified for the job receives the job, right? Therefore, competition can only be viewed as a good thing!
I have reached the conclusion that statistically, the economic effect of migrants on the UK economy is positive. Instead of worrying about the effect of migration upon the economy, it would more beneficial to take of advantage of the increased opportunity for competition!