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MIGRANTS & MIGRATION
Far-sight RESEARCH focuses on this important social & economic issue, exploring vital questions with migrants (from outside or within the EU) and other people who may gain from their skills, energies, willingness to work or their cultural diversity but may also resent them for their perceived effects on their own incomes, choices or life-styles. It is hard, though, to deny that migrants often display far-sight in looking beyond horizons for their future.... Here are 2 current perspectives, courtesy of The Economist & of Brian Sewell in London's Evening Standard.
Who gains from immigration?
From The Economist Newspaper**, 27 June 2002
Immigrants, certainly; so do most Britons, but some lose out
ARE immigrants a burden or a blessing? Are they to be welcomed or sent home? If voters are confused about Labour's policy, it would not be surprising. Last weekend Tony Blair tried and failed to win the agreement of fellow European leaders at the Seville summit to his proposal that the EU use its “economic and financial clout” against countries failing to co-operate in the attempts to stop illegal immigration. On June 25th David Blunkett, the home secretary, met Nicolas Sarkozy, his French counterpart, to press the case for the early closure of the Sangatte refugee camp near Calais which is used by asylum-seekers as a staging-post to enter Britain. Unfortunately, Mr Sarkozy did not oblige. And on June 26th, Gordon Brown, the chancellor of the exchequer, told businessmen gathered at the Mansion House that he planned to increase the number of work permits issued to allow foreigners to work in Britain.
Politics and economics push the government in opposite directions. Politics argue for being seen to clamp down on immigrants. Britons are getting increasingly concerned about immigration. MORI's latest figures show that immigration now ranks second to the state of the health service, and ahead of law and order and schools. Ministers fear that, unless they defuse public disquiet about the issue, Britain could follow other European electorates and experience a political backlash against immigration.
But economics argue for encouraging immigration. Mr Blair told the House of Commons this week that legal immigration “can and does bring real and substantial benefits to countries, including Britain”. So the government is trying to draw a clear line between legal immigration—to be encouraged—and illegal immigration—to be thwarted. It has streamlined the system of work permits, which allows people to come to Britain at the request of employers. This year, it has introduced a new programme to allow highly skilled foreigners to immigrate without the backing of employers. And the Home Office is currently consulting on further steps that will increase the flow of less skilled legal immigrants; for example, by expanding the seasonal agricultural workers programme and extending it beyond farming to activities like catering and construction.
But how big are the economic benefits of immigration, and who enjoys them? Clearly immigration makes the economy bigger by adding to the workforce. Because net migration (the balance of inward and outward flows) has recently been running at a record 180,000 a year, the potential effect could be quite large. The Treasury now assumes that there will be further net inflows approaching this level. On this basis it estimates that the economy can grow each year by an additional quarter of a percentage point—worth £2.5 billion ($3.8 billion)—until 2006. That handy annual addition to GDP should also boost tax revenues by about £1 billion every year.
Businesses will also benefit from the expansion of the economy—one reason why the CBI, the employers' organisation, backs migration. The CBI, like the government, also supports immigration because it can help to fill specific labour shortages, such as, at present, the recruitment needs of the computer industry and the health service.
Government and business may benefit from a larger economy, but for individuals what matters is the effect on GDP per head. Immigration creates such benefits in a similar way to trade. Just as with trade, it creates opportunities for Britons to exploit their comparative advantage—which lies in the extent to which they differ from immigrants. As is the case in other developed countries, immigrants to Britain are different in two ways: they are both more and less skilled. This allows Britons to benefit by specialising in activities where they have the edge. And people can buy goods or services provided by immigrants because they are generally prepared to work at lower wages.
The benefits immigration produces in this way are unlikely to be very large. The increase in GDP per head will be smaller than that in overall GDP. The annual rise in per capital GDP from projected higher immigration will probably be around an eighth of a percentage point.
Most economists agree there will be modest gains. “On the whole the economic impact of immigration is broadly neutral to mildly positive,” says John Salt of the migration research unit at University College London (UCL). “The net gains are very modest,” says Richard Freeman, co-director of the LSE's Centre for Economic Performance and a member of a National Research Council (NRC) panel that reported in 1997 on the impact of immigration into the United States. The main reason is that Britain is already a very open trading economy whose imports are worth almost 30% of GDP. This tempers the potential impact of immigration since imports, in effect, embody the work of foreigners who stay put.
Enthusiasts for immigration suggest that the potential gains are much larger. Nigel Harris, an economist at UCL who advocates the scrapping of all immigration controls, argues that there are no costs to British workers because “immigrants do jobs that domestic workers won't touch”. Immigrants may also be unusually entrepreneurial: they are, after all, self-selecting in their willingness to get up and go. This seems plausible, but is difficult to measure, as is the value that comes from the diversity that immigrants bring. “It's hard to put a number on buzz but there must be some value,” says Mr Freeman.
But while the population as a whole benefits slightly from immigration, those competing directly for jobs with immigrants do not. Most of the research on the impact of immigration on wages has been done in America. The NRC report concluded that, overall, immigration had reduced the wages of groups competing with immigrants—predominantly low-paid people—by 1-2%.
The people most affected by new immigrants were immigrants who had arrived earlier. Several studies have looked at local labour markets in America, comparing areas with high levels of new immigration to those with low levels, or looking at changes in wages over time. One such study, published in 1991, found that a 10% rise in the number of immigrants depressed the wages of earlier immigrants by 4%. To low-paid workers, that's a cost. To their employers, it's a benefit.
The government is right to insist that there are economic benefits to immigration, but they are not huge, or neutral. Broadly, immigration makes business and most people a bit better off, and some of the poor poorer. **The Economist.comGift of the immigrants
by Brian Sewell
Read Brian Sewell's column every Tuesday, and on art every Friday in London's Evening Standard
Four years ago, in an introspective and melancholy moment, I wrote some observations on the Jews from Germany and other parts of Europe to whom I owe so much of my education in music and the history of art half a century ago. These were men and women who thought of themselves less as Jewish than German or Austrian, and less as nationals of any country than as part of a broad sweep of educated and enquiring European scholars to whom scholarship and high culture were virtually all that mattered. They were, in their way, part of the last manifestation of the Enlightenment, the extraordinary intellectual movement that had swept the Continent in the 18th century and remained a driving force in philosophy, science, literature and all the arts.
No student in my day thought of them as Jews; they were not Zionists, had no personal interest in Israel as an established Jewish state and were unrecognisable in the anti-semitic caricatures of Jews as hook-nosed Shylocks promoted by the Nazis. When 55,000 of them came to the United Kingdom in the 1930s, driven from their homes and universities, their art galleries and concert halls, they immeasurably enriched the cultural life of this country and, in music, opera, dance, literature, mathematics, science, architecture and the history and connoisseurship of the visual arts we owe them a largely unacknowledged debt. None of these scholars kept himself to himself; each sought to exercise his discipline within existing British cultural structures and groves of Academe, they did not establish isolated ghettos and, through the medium of broadcasting, their scholarship became available to every enquiring schoolboy in the land; indeed it could be said that these Continental scholars contributed the highest Reithian principles to the BBC and that in their hands that now benighted institution reached its peak.
I argued for a book to record the deeds and influences of these European Jews before they slipped into oblivion. The first generation to be directly affected by them was their own, between the wars, the second mine, during the war and after it; and as there was no third and many of my peers are approaching retirement and death, I feared that these men and women would soon be utterly forgotten. The book has now appeared - The Hitler EmigrÈs by Daniel Snowman (Chatto and Windus, £20) - but it is not the book I wanted. Too big a subject for one man, it lacks bite and passion, drifts off course too easily and is diligent one moment, languid the next. In passing, it makes the point compellingly that to conjure Hitler's exiles the writer must know enough of them to recall their presence and their mannerisms, must hear their voices and evoke their touch - and this writer did not. He has written a painstaking history as impersonal as though Hitler and his deeds were a thousand years ago, his pages crowded with names familiar to men of my age, but with no sense of their being.
I remember the chill of Johannes Wilde's hands, his height and stoop, the bent back of Otto Kurz, the bulk of Rudy Wittkower. I hear the throaty guttural pronunciation of Ettlinger, his Rs rolling in the roof of his mouth like the growl of an angry cat, loud for so small a frame; I hear the indrawn breath of Lili Frˆhlich, the sense that she was savouring an N as though it were a peppermint, while waiting for the correct English word to make its slow way to her brain; and I hear the precision of Pevsner, light in timbre and fluent, not quite free of a German accent but not weighed down by the grotesque impediments of Dennis the Dachshund as he sought to analyse, unsuccessfully, the Englishness of English art. I hear Max Rostal's rebuke for riding to his lessons on a bicycle with my violin slung on my back (more for the instrument's sake than mine) as well as the uncompromising - even unforgiving - clarity of his instruction. But I hear no voices in this book and where music is concerned, the author's just enthusiasm for the Amadeus
Quartet does nothing to communicate the difference between it and the performance of such earlier musicians as Cortot, Thibaud and Casals, nor can I hear the difference between an orchestra conducted in the English tradition of Henry Wood and one under the baton of Krauss or Klemperer.
Voices perhaps matter less with publishers and, for want of a better word, impresarios - in any case, the ear of an author who can describe Joan Cross as "a great singer" cannot be trusted, for hers was one of those quavering English voices so much employed by Britten, the most remarkable thing about her performance the exertions of her Adam's apple. It is useful to be reminded of the Anglo-German combination, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, of Thames and Hudson, Austro-German, and of how the Phaidon Press came from Vienna to London under the wing of Allen and Unwin - to this I can add the fact that its founder, BÈla Horowitz, brought with him all the plates from which his art-book illustrations were printed, using them for English editions until they were capable of little more than a brown smudge.
Most of us have forgotten, if we ever knew, to what extent such still current British beanos as the Edinburgh Festival and opera at Glyndebourne were, long ago, the dreams of European exiles - indeed, in almost every field, their influence had become, as early as the end of the Swinging Sixties, so accepted as to be unnoticeable. They must not be forgotten; in fleeing from Hitler they brought us great gifts, brought them to a nation that largely refused to comprehend the menacing developments in the politics of central Europe, that did not respond to the German invasions of Austria and Czechoslovakia, nor to the establishment of the first concentration camps, the burning of books, the breaking of glass and the exhibition as degenerate of art now universally thought great. This was the decade of the Kindertransport, the urgent saving of 10,000 Jewish children while letting their parents stay to wait for the death camps and their ovens, the decade that in September 1939 saw the beginning of the worst war the world has known.
Did it matter that these refugees were Jews? Shall I again be swamped by cowardly anonymous letters of xenophobic anti-semitic prejudice for expressing gratitude long overdue? As Ernst Gombrich said not long before his death, it mattered only to Hitler; Jewishness was of no relevance in their interpretation of Mozart and Michelangelo, their understanding of antiquity and the modern human mind, their science and their engineering, their urge to create cinema, opera and dance, their ability to communicate in their chosen fields.
These were not the huddled masses of the poor dwarfed by the Statue of Liberty; these, even the children, were of the substantial middle classes, educated, academic, clever, adaptable and, in the right circumstances, easily absorbed into English society - and absorbed they were, greatly to our benefit.
That is what mattered. Glyndebourne, the Edinburgh Festival, the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, the Third Programme (now Radio 3), the Festival of Britain, Gombrich's Story of Art - in these, perhaps, they have their monument.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd., 02 July 2002Terms and Conditions
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