What would happen to the economy if 'unwanted immigrants' disappeared?

Published 31.07.2019 00:46

As the world shrinks thanks to developments in technology, we are seeing an increase in opposition toward migrants and refugees in response to globalization. Opposing attitudes toward migrants and refugees are on the rise across the world. For Europe, the migrant crisis caused by the civil war in Syria could be a reason for this response; however, worldwide, as a response to globalization, similar attitudes have also surfaced.

When we use the U.S. as an example, we see opposition to illegal immigrants from Mexico. In addition, the opposition has a dimension of xenophobia as well as an anti-Muslim sentiment.

Most of the time we hear claims against migrants and refugees, such as migrants and refugees are harmful to the economic prosperity of the local population and cause the crime rates to increase. However, to be honest, I believe at this point it is appropriate to ask: Is it really like that?

In many corners of the world, numerous studies have been conducted to understand the effects of migrants on economies and societies. When we look at the findings of these studies, we see that the arguments that oppose migrants and refugees are clearly refuted. For example, data from the World Bank Group shows an increase of only 3% in the migrant workforces of developed countries has the potential to increase the global market by $356 billion. According to Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) data, migrants contribute to the economies of their host countries with their taxes and social contributions, which far outweigh the benefits they claim from the perspective governments. Also, the OECD data proves that migrants fill gaps in the workforce in the countries and thus supports local production.

Data specific to the U.S. proves that migrants, unwanted by U.S. President Donald Trump, have strengthened development in areas like technological advancement and research. A study focusing on economic history proved areas of the U.S. that have received migrants in the past are far more developed economically and socially than those that have not welcomed any. When the prosperity levels of areas that received migrants between the years 1860-1920 are compared to areas that did not experience migration, the areas with migrants saw a net economical advantage of around 20% of income per person. In such areas, unemployment levels are lower, pov

erty is lower, but education levels and urbanization are higher. As it is understood from an economic perspective, in the long run, receiving immigrants helps a country become stronger.

To make another comparison, let's look at Japan, a country that generally closes its doors to migrants for cultural reasons. Japan, which essentially goes it alone as far as the workforce is concerned, is not a giant in the world's economy, on the contrary, it is a country that is in economic crisis.

Experts say that Japan's economic problems are exemplified by a dwindling workforce due to a shrinking population. While the best answer to this problem would be to find a way to increase the population, in practical terms this does not seem to be possible. In a shrinking economy, it is not easy to have children and raise them. For a developed country to increase its population, it has to recover economically. In this situation, a migrant workforce would be beneficial to provide the country with that momentary push it needs. Japan is living proof of this situation.

On the other hand, when we look at Germany, which had a relatively open-door policy for migrants after World War II, we can see it has become one of the world's leading economic powers. OECD data shows Germany's economic development today is thanks in part to high levels of cultural diversity rooted in migrants. When the 16 zones where the migrant workforce is densest in Germany are examined, it is seen that unemployment is lower, and these areas produce more patents. In multicultural provinces like Berlin, Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, the number of companies with high investment power and a high number of patents is impressive, proving the benefits migrants provide for the economy and development.

In another example, countries like Australia and Canada have opened their doors to migrants and seen stronger economies, while the economies of countries like Britain, where policies restrict migration, are weakening. When we set economic factors aside and look at the issue of opposition to migrants, the risk of "migrants and refugees" committing crimes the U.S., for example, shows that reality is actually the opposite. Crime rates of American citizens are much higher than migrants according to statistics.

In the light of this data, clearly arguments opposing migration are filled with fear and hate-mongering fueled by far-right groups to increase their voter base and have no basis in facts. In truth, these trends directly harm the economies they claim to protect.

It would be beneficial to approach the migrant and refugee opposition, which have become trends in the recent years across Europe and sadly in recent months in Turkey, from this perspective.

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