“No association” between higher immigration and joblessness: National Institute of Economic and Social Research

Independent economists assert there is no link between rising immigration and rising unemployment.

In fact, according to them, immigration acts as an economic incentive, pushing total employment levels higher.

As per a report in Searchlight, the economists' view is contrary to the constant claims of anti-immigration activists and politicians that an invasion of foreign nationals into the UK in recent years had led to more British-born workers on the dole.

The anti-immigration pressure group Migration Watch had claimed on Monday that rising immigration from Eastern and Central Europe since European Union enlargement in 2004 had contributed to a surge in youth unemployment in Britain, which was now above 1 million.

The National Institute of Economic and Social Research asserted that there was "no association" between higher immigration and joblessness – even at times of recession or low growth of the sort that Britain was experiencing at the moment.

To analyse the impact of migration on the labour market, the Institute's researchers compared the overseas nationals who were allocated national insurance numbers in an area with the number of people claiming the dole locally.

"Perhaps surprisingly," their economists said, "the interaction between migrant inflows and GDP emerged as positive, indicating that during periods of lower growth, migrant inflows were associated with … slower [dole] claimant growth than would otherwise have occurred."

The researchers did admit that the stimulating effects of migration on the overall labour market at a time of recession were likely to be small.

The critics of Migration Watch pointed out that youth unemployment started rising before 2004, the point when Polish and other former Soviet bloc nationals were freely permitted to enter the UK to work.

And Jonathan Portes, the director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research and former chief economist at the Cabinet Office, also argued that most of the rise in youth unemployment took place in 2008 and 2009, a period during which the number of Eastern European workers entering Britain to seek employment dipped.

Government ministers have implied a link between immigration and joblessness. Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, in a speech last July had stated that "Controlling immigration is critical or we will risk losing another generation to dependency and hopelessness”.

The Coalition has imposed a cap on immigration from outside the European Union and has pledged to cut down the net migration to "the tens of thousands" a year by the end of this parliament in 2015.

The Office for Budget Responsibility, however, has raised doubt on whether the Government will succeed in meeting this goal, with the Coalition's fiscal watchdog estimating that average annual migration until 2016 will be 140,000.

Net migration hit a record high of 252,000 in 2010, although this was mainly due to a sharp fall in the number of Britons leaving the country rather than an increase in immigration.







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