Sunday, March 31, 2019

Emigration Vs Immigration Issues

In Spain, Italy, Greece, Poland, Hungary and Romania, six countries where population levels are either flatlining or falling sharply, more citizens said emigration was a worry than immigration. In some countries, the fear of emigration was so great that large numbers of people believed compatriots should not be allowed to leave their country for long periods of time. The steepest falls are in Romania, where the population has decreased by almost 10% over the past decade as an exodus of mostly young people move to work in western Europe. Fewer and fewer young people pay for the healthcare and pensions of an ageing population

However, in northern and western nations, concerns over immigration far outstripped those over emigration. In the survey as a whole, 20% were worried about emigration and 32% about immigration. However, immigration numbers have fallen sharply over the past two years: in 2018, the number who crossed the Mediterranean was put at just over 116,000 by UNHCR, down almost 90% from those who made the journey in 2015.

Populist leaders like Hungary’s Viktor Orbán and Italy’s Matteo Salvini are seeking to put migration front and centre of the 23-26 May polls, in which 374 million people are eligible to vote in a new parliament for a five-year term. The Orbán government recently deployed a scare poster warning about migration policy in Brussels. Hungary has refused to take refugees under an EU quota system and continues to block an EU law that proposes a permanent redistribution system for asylum seekers. The poster referred to this theme, stating: “They want to introduce compulsory relocation quotas.”

In a new book, Empty Planet by Darrell Bricker and John Ibbotson, they say many countries are already being forced to grapple with the problems caused by a falling population. Bulgaria has a low birth rate of 1.5 births per woman, the toughest of lines against immigration and its population has fallen by almost 2 million in 30 years, to just over 7 million. Spain, where the fertility rate is even lower at 1.3, has appointed a sex tsar to see what can be done to prevent the population – currently just over 46 million – from falling by 5.6 million by 2080. Poland has closed hundreds of schools because there not enough children to fill them. Fewer Italian babies were born in 2015 than in any year since the country was unified in 1861. Germany’s ageing population was a key factor in Angela Merkel’s decision to accept a million Syrian refugees in 2015.

It is not just Europe. The same trend applies to Japan and will soon apply to China, thanks to the one-child policy imposed by Beijing 40 years ago. India’s birthrate has also dropped, as has Brazil’s. Two factors lie behind falling birthrates – more people living in cities and the empowerment of women – and they apply to the developing as well as the developed world.

If developed countries wanted to maintain growth rates at anything like their current levels, they would have to welcome immigration from the one part of the world where the population will keep growing, Africa.

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