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Sunday, December 09, 2007

 

Fear of Foreigners

The United States is not alone in the question regarding what to do about immigration. Europe is facing many of the same concerns as the United States as more and more people are immigrating to Western Europe from not only Africa, but also Eastern Europe. The questions some ask are: does it harm natural born citizens, and what will it do to our economy?

The arguments over the benefits of immigration are fairly complicated. Immigrants themselves clearly gain, since they move usually in order to work for higher pay than they can get at home. There is some evidence that European economies that have taken in many migrant workers have also benefited, not only in total output but also in terms of GDP per head. However, some native workers, such as fruit-pickers, builders and waiters, obviously lose because immigration holds down their wages. Even this has an upside, since it has helped to hold down inflation in places like London.

There is an obvious advantage to the workers who migrate to Western Europe, but are the advantages enough to out weigh the perceived and real problems? Many times the workers only come to the area to make some more money and then return to their native country to begin their own businesses and to help boost their own economies. Some immigrants also work for a while and then return to where they came from because there is a shortage in the labor supply in their own country.

The article from the Economist online also points out that there will be and is a slowing of the population growth in Western Europe. The additional people and migrant workers may actually be necessary in order to keep the economy as it is and has been. According to the article, acceptance is key and political policy and persuasion will play a huge role in whether or not immigration will continue to work at the same rate as it has been. Many feel that it will become necessary to help to integrate immigrants into the Western European culture by helping them with language skills, and improvement on infrastructure that will then allow for a larger population. Whether or not these things will happen is all up to the people, and ultimately government intervention.


JENNA CLULEY

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