Winner of the New Statesman SPERI Prize in Political Economy 2016

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Immigration and the experts

Why does society no longer blame immigrants for spreading disease? It used to. The Jews were blamed for the Black Death, and Irish immigrant workers were blamed for Cholera in the 1830s. (See this nice science museum website.) Syphilis has been blamed on all manner of foreigners: the French blamed the Italians and the Italians blamed the French! The obvious answer is that society now knows better as a result of medical science.

Nowadays immigrants are instead blamed for unemployment, lower wages and increasing crime. They are blamed for reducing natives access to the NHS. Yet just as in the case of immigrants and disease, most experts know that popular concerns are wide of the mark. Nor are some of the sources of popular misperception difficult to understand. For example immigrants use the NHS, but they also pay taxes that allow us to fund more NHS resources, but government funding may be slow in responding to changes in local demand. In current circumstances the UK government is holding back those resources nationally, but says it is ‘protecting’ the NHS and the media dutifully repeats that they are.

Some politicians and large sections of the print media deliberately fuel popular misconceptions because they can use it to their advantage. Others feel they have to go with those misperceptions because otherwise they will lose votes. Much of the broadcast media see it as their duty to ‘reflect popular concern’ but feel less compelled to reflect expert opinion. But if you think this is inevitable and natural, imagine what would happen if a senior politician started blaming immigrants for bringing in diseases. Well you don’t have to imagine.

Watching certain Labour politicians trying to get on to the anti-immigration bandwagon is painful to see. Some are the same politicians who also argued that Labour had to accept austerity after the 2015 General Election. Now immigration is much more complex than austerity, as I discuss here, but that is all the more reason to respect the evidence. (Those who still wonder why Jeremy Corbyn is so popular among party members should note he is sticking with his principles on both austerity and immigration.) But I think it is wrong to just blame politicians. Responsibility must also rest with most of the media, who (as we saw in the Brexit campaign) treat economic evidence very differently from medical evidence.



67 comments:

  1. The real question is why is the left so obsessed with increasing immigration. Britain has a housing crisis and its effect is that all measures to improve the lot of the working class become measures that improve the lot of landlords. Housing should be a huge issue for the left. Instead, its immigration, immigration and more immigration is all they talk about.

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    1. Thats a very bizzare way of putting it, the left have never gone out of their way to encourage people to come to the UK, people have been wanting to come of their own accord. The main difference is the extent to which governments have put bureaucratic obstacles in the way to try and reduce it.

      The governments promises on immigration has led to some very counterproductive policy. The £35k requirement will mean many skilled workers will not be permitted to stay; the restrictions on students will hurt our universities, an industry in which the UK is uniquely placed to compete and it doesn't seem right that someone's non-EU spouse can only move to the UK if they earn above a certain amount.

      In terms of housing, it's worth pointing out that house prices shot up between 1995 and 2004 before the A8 accesion and the rise in EU migrants it brought. Housing is a huge issue for the left and I as someone on the left would love to see housing hitting the headlines more often, instead we are constantly forced onto the back foot on immigration.

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    2. Doc at the Radar Station30 September 2016 at 04:11

      The two primary ways you can get real GDP growth in economies is to either increase the work force (or population generally) or increase productivity. The west has been in a productivity stagnation for quite some time, so that only leaves one other option. I think that's a big reason behind the push for immigration. The disruption that causes has some costs - but those are harder to account for.

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    3. Regular Gonzales2 October 2016 at 11:33

      "Instead, its immigration, immigration and more immigration is all they talk about."

      Wow - real through-the-looking-glass stuff here. It's the right that's blatantly obsessed with immigration, not the left. Left-wing discussion of the issue is largely in response to the right's obsession with immigrants, and what left-wing desire there is to maintain immigration is in large part an element of a larger desire to retain close ties with Europe. By contrast, it's the right that are so obsessed by it that they want to sacrifice UK membership of both the EU and the European single market, with all the benefits that brings the UK, and free movement for British people in Europe, on the altar of bringing down immigration. When it comes down to, immigration is practically the only the issue large sections of the right care about, to a completely unhinged degree.

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  2. Is that quite accurate?

    For example, the BoE working paper last year showing a 1.88% reduction in 'semi or unskilled workers' wages per 10% rise in the proportion of immigrants working in said services - does that expert opinion not chime in much more closely with what popular opinion might be? Namely that if you're a lawyer you're probably unaffected but there's not a tradesman or a labourer in the country who hasn't felt the effects of large-scale immigration?

    So are there at least some experts who think that the wage effects of large scale immigration have been demonstrably negative, for significant groups of people?

    http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/research/Documents/workingpapers/2015/swp574.pdf

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    1. The Nickell and Saleheen article you refer to concludes that “the immigrant to native ratio has a small negative impact on average British wages.” The critical word here is “small”, which it is compared to the impact of austerity and stagnant productivity in the wake of the bankers’ crash, on top of a generation of deindustrialisation and declining unions. The obsession with migration divides workers, spreads hatred and distracts from the policies needed to reverse the decline in wages: ending austerity, public investment, a true living wage, enforcing employment laws, abolishing zero-hour contracts and scrapping anti-union legislation, plus a large migration impact fund to spread the economic gains.

      There is also a modelling issue with this paper, in that it treats migration as an independent variable, while it is in fact closely coupled with other factors which are not considered, such as trade deals. This connection is apparent when we consider Brexit. EU leaders have stated repeatedly that if the UK wants restrictions on free movement then we will also have to accept restrictions on trade that will have a negative impact on jobs and wages. Hence modelling has to compare packages of measures, not pick and choose. How would the closure of factories in cars or aerospace, or declining employment in service exports, help workers?

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    2. Spot, moreover, globalisation simply masks reality. Whilst the British can congratulate themselves on ridding the country of tedious or back-breaking labour (we haven't but bear with me), said labour still takes place, just elsewhere, in often inhumane conditions with often appalling labour laws. And we benefit from it on the high street. The task, then, of a true socialist, is to unmask said reality and make connections with the new globalised working class.

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    3. "The obsession with immigration divides workers". Exactly, and for workers to unite the immigration has to stop. I want that weapon taken out of right wing hands for good.

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  3. It's a sad day when Labour politicians start channelling their inner Enoch Powell.

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    1. Couldn't agree more. There's no place for that in the Labour Party.

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  4. Someone can accept all your premises on the benefits of immigration and still want to see a huge reduction in numbers. Should labour MPs not speak up for those people?

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    1. Regular Gonzales2 October 2016 at 11:39

      No, they shouldn't. The job of politicians and parties in a representative democracy is not to "speak up for people", it's to represent their own principles, with voters free to chose the parties and representatives whose principles most closely line up with their own. There are already plenty of anti-immigrant parties to choose from already without Labour following in their footsteps. Labour should stand with the centre-left principles of addressing the real sources of poverty and poor service provision, such as government cuts and inequality, rather than joining in the right's pile on against immigrants.

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  5. But they also pay taxes that allow us to fund more NHS resources,


    I'd like to see the accounting for that considering you can't do a reserve drain without doing a reserve add first ? Plus the fact that the taxes collected are destroyed in the overnight interbank market every night of the week. So that the BOE can meet its overnight interest rate.


    I would have thought if the resources were available then the UK government could buy as much as it wanted as long as the resources were sold in £'s.

    We've ran budget deficits for nearly 300 years. I'd love to see the huge shed on the Isle Of Wight were these taxes are kept for future use :)It must have been empty 299 years ago.

    Let's use a silly number £30 trillion.



    If there were enough resources to buy. HM Treasury could spend £30 trillion on the NHS in the morning if it wanted to it is the monopoly issuer of £'s. By typing £30 trillion into a computer keyboard - no gold insight - no taxes insight.

    HM Treasury just types £30 trillion on a computer keyboard and it sends the money to the NHS suppliers job done.

    The suppliers receive the £30 trillion and pay their tax, and they spend it and whoever receives it pays their tax, and they spend it and whoever receives it pays their tax, and they spend it and whoever receives it pays their tax, and they spend it and whoever receives it pays their tax, and they spend it and whoever receives it pays their tax, and they spend it and whoever receives it pays their tax, and they spend it and whoever receives it pays their tax.

    Oh look, £29 trillion out of the £30 trillion has returned to HM Treasury from the spending chain they created and created jobs millions of them.


    So what happened to the missing trillion ? Where is it ? Who holds it ?


    Well it is very simple. Not everyone in the spending chain spent all of their income they decided to save some instead in a pension, in an isa, or just in their savings account.

    That's the budget deficit the trillion that never made it back to HM Treasury which is just everyone's savings to the penny.

    These savings that people make allows our private sector to adjust to the increased aggregate demand and helps to fight inflation.



    It all boils down to fiscal conservative framing again. If the left continue to play away at neoliberal utd by saying the government can only spend what it brings in. Then the tories keep winning by landslides because voters have household budgets ingrained in their psyche.

    The left need to start reframing things on their own terms. Starting with the national debt and start calling it what it is - national savings.

    Leaving debt to our children and grandchildren is the Equivalent to saying you're worried about your children's generation having too many net financial assets.


    Language and framing is where the election is won or lost and the fiscal conservatives have a 40 year head start.

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    1. Good points, and I agree with much of your arguments.

      However, in an open economy, some of that £30 trillion will be spent in buying resources from abroad - so their governments will get the tax and 'foreigners' will be using those pounds to buy our product - the blackguards!

      Moreover, as soon as even localised shortages appear (e.g. in some speciality like MRI) the cost of those specialities will shoot up and there won't be enough pounds for the rest of the services.

      What I'm saying is that your 'closed circle' argument is great as far as it goes, and it could certainly be useful right now, but it isn't a magic circle

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    2. You slip in the assumptions that resources are “available” and “sold in £s” without considering if they are valid. If they are not, then your argument against the statement that taxes fund more NHS resources collapses. The mechanics of money creation and interbank markets are not relevant here. This is about real resources and the outputs that can be created from them.

      The essential point about taxation is that it deprives those taxed of purchasing power to consume resources or outputs, thereby freeing those to be consumed by government. Of course, if resources were freely available, then governments would not require taxation to free these for public services, but that is never true, even in cases of deep recession with high unemployment and spare capacity, because of resource heterogeneity. Imperfect resource substitution is usually hidden in macro and monetary models but is fundamental to how the economy works: a surplus of English graduates does not solve a shortage of plumbers; land in mid-Wales is not usable for London housing. As resource heterogeneity makes supply less than infinitely elastic, public services require funding from taxation even in recession, although debt and monetary expansion can then also play a role in mobilising unused or underused resources.

      Heterogeneity is also relevant to the question of whether public debt is simply savings that will be inherited by our children. Even if we ignore the quarter of UK debt held overseas, we still have to recognise that holders of bonds (directly or via institutions) are a subset of taxpayers, with a propensity to be richer than average. The next generation will inherit not just bonds but also the obligation to service them and for most people that will be more onerous than the benefit, unless the debt has funded investment that has grown the economy sufficiently to repay it.

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    3. No Uk Debt is held overseas the £'s never leave the Bank Of England. It is also savings.

      "Sterling savings" held by foreigners.


      As for servicing the debt, all that happens is an interest bearing bond is replaced by a non interest bearing reserve balance.

      Moved from one cell on a spreadsheet to another debt serviced.

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    4. We need to look at the real world, not spreadsheets. In normal circumstances, an investor lending to government expects a real return, i.e. the ability to purchase more output when the bond matures than could be done today with the money invested in that bond. That additional real output requires real resources to produce, resources that could otherwise have been used to produce alternative outputs. This is a real opportunity cost.

      Of course, in today’s conditions, with negative real interest rates, underutilised capacity and poor infrastructure, there are plenty of opportunities for public investment that would bring a real social return that could more than cover the cost of servicing the loan. But that’s because of real world conditions, not fiddling with spreadsheets.

      It’s also untrue that reserve balances do not pay interest. That’s not been true for about a decade and in 2009 the Bank of England extended interest payments to cover all reserves, not just those it considered to be excessive. This is a hidden subsidy to the financial sector and one which will become expensive when interest rates eventually rise, unless the policy changes.

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  6. Smart people talk about government buying

    https://medium.com/modern-money-matters/smart-people-talk-about-government-buying-f805c18c4d31#.o90r4og8r

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  7. If failing to train enough doctors and nurses is such a clever idea, why don’t we take it a stage further and stop training bricklayers, plumbers, engineers, you name it? Welcome to la-la land.

    Of course SW-L is right to criticise some of the more popular myths about the alleged damage done by immigration, e.g. the alleged unemployment among natives that it causes. On the other hand the “experts” to which SW-L refers aren’t too clever either. Precious few of the studies done which claim to prove the benefits of immigration because of the higher earnings amongst immigrants take account of the fact that before immigrants (or more accurately a “net immigrants”) pay for themselves, they have to pay for the tens of thousands of pounds worth of infrastructure investments they necessitate.

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    1. «before immigrants (or more accurately a “net immigrants”) pay for themselves, they have to pay for the tens of thousands of pounds worth of infrastructure investments they necessitate.»

      They surely don't need extra infrastructure: they can just squeeze in busier and busier infrastructure, while paying taxes and NI contributions for worsening services. Consider the living space that many immigrants squeeze in while affluent middle class middle aged Waitrose-shoppers live large in 4-5 bedroom ever appreciating micro-manors:

      https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jun/25/overcrowding-housing-raid-26-living-three-bedroom-east-london
      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2337695/Shanty-town-suburban-London-street-Romanians-scrape-living-amid-squalor-dump.html

      The future aimed for by Conservatives and New Labour will involve the reapparance of tenements/favelas in the UK:

      http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jun/28/london-the-city-that-ate-itself-rowan-moore
      «Meanwhile, if you fly in a helicopter over suburban boroughs such as Hounslow or Newham, as council enforcers sometimes do, you will see ramshackle structures in back gardens, some of which will be housing uncounted numbers of migrants. Whereas iceberg houses are permitted by loopholes in the planning system (which some local authorities are now trying to close), these are unauthorised and try to evade detection. A Brazilian architect once asked me why there were no favelas in London. They are coming now – sheds in back gardens, small flats and houses appallingly overcrowded.»

      Just like in Silicon Valley:

      http://granolashotgun.com/2016/02/08/spring-in-the-silicon-favela/
      «Right next door is one of the endless Silicon Favelas. There’s no legal market mechanism that will supply accommodations to people earning minimum wage within a hundred miles of Silicon Valley. NIMBYs make absolutely certain that subsidized housing for such people is never built. These camps are everywhere, although my friend had no idea they existed until I pointed them out to her. Since every municipality in the region has the same homeless situation the police play Whack-a-Mole with the camps pushing them from one odd spot to the next. I regularly take the time to talk to these folks. The popular assumption is that they’re all alcoholics, drug addicts, and schizophrenics. It’s a convenient way to relieve ourselves of any responsibility for their condition. Mostly, the homeless are the discarded working class – perfectly ordinary people with the usual combinations of strengths and weaknesses who have simply run out of options. The minimum wage in San Jose is $10 an hour. Median rent for a one bedroom apartment is $2,300.»

      But "F*ck YOU! I got mine" in the USA and "Blow you... I am allright Jack" is the motto of the affluent southern middle classes. They won't tolerate to have any of their property rents and capital gains to be "wasted" on infrastructure for "losers":

      www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/rachelsylvester/3556538/Brown-and-the-conservatory-building-classes.html
      «With the cost of housing, energy, childcare and food going through the roof, people who are relatively well paid can no longer afford to live the way they did even a year ago. As the middle classes book holidays in Torquay rather than Tuscany, drink tap water instead of San Pellegrino and put the conservatory they had been planning to build on hold, they start to question the amount they have to pay to the Government.»

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    2. Yes of course the infrastructure point can be dealt with by having overcrowded trains, immigrants living in shanty-towns, pot-holed roads instead of decent roads, etc. But is that what what you want? Moreover, if we as a nation DON'T increase infrastructure investment as necessitated by immigrants, then we all bear the costs of creaking and over-crowded infrastructure. I.e. natives pay a price either way.

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  8. When immigration is talked about nobody ever mentions the other side of the transaction.

    Governments spend a lot of money training their people. Then the UK comes along steals them with our beger thy neighbour policy leaving their country worse off.

    Our private sector does the same reducing training and investment costs it is not ethical. They allow others to spend the money then steal them.

    Straight out of the Empire handbook.



    It's very easy to bring in half of someone elses country to increase GDP. You just better get ready to bring in the other half to support it.

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    1. It is undoubtedly true that there are many cases of skill drain from poorer to richer countries. The fear that this could happen to qualified medical personnel must be a driver behind Cuba’s request that the US tightens its access for Cuban migrants. But it is also possible to find cases where access to European or US labour markets (physically or via telecommunications) has stimulated skills development. The Indian IT industry is probably the best example. As always, we need to look at specifics.

      In the UK, flows of skilled workers within the EU have caused little concern as these tend to be two-way between countries with comparable living standards (e.g. Britain and France). Concern in the UK has instead focused on the flows from poorer EU countries of unskilled workers, although for a country like Bulgaria the impact of losing qualified workers has been more serious. EU policies have increased emigration, first by expanding eastwards for geopolitical reasons without adequate socio-economic investment, second through mass Eurozone unemployment. Breaking from austerity would ease migration issues from both sides.

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    2. But the problem is not immigration, but the fact that the UK government and UK companies are failing to train enough people. That's been an unsaid target for right wing (and New Labour) governments as part of austerity, and a lot of companies are happy to see their costs reduced. The left wing response, as outlined by Corbyn, is to force investment in training.

      Recently I've worked a lot with Romanians in the IT industry. Very few have any desire to migrate to the EU - like most people if they are prosperous in their native country, then they are happy. OK, those outsourced jobs are a net loss to the EU in the short term. But, in the long term, skills and knowledge are increased in Romania, and wages rise in that country. That has always been the pro-EU argument IMHO.

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    3. The economist's approach to understanding immigration is very unscientific. It usually consists of simple gini coefficient analysis, or fancy econometric analysis based on very poor social understanding. The logic of the economist when it comes to immigration and the labour market is based on neo-classical theory which makes an argument similar to comparative advantage in trade in the goods markets. They are not taught to be critical or are aware of opposing schools of thought - so they are in no position to really understand what they are saying because they have no way of gaging it.

      Neither the xenophobe nor the economist understands the effects of immigration which are clearly very complex and of which its seems we know very little - and very little real effort has been made in trying to understand them.

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  9. Just before I read the post I read this;
    http://esharp.eu/debates/the-uk-and-europe/how-to-solve-the-free-movement-conundrum#.V-zfj4LbYfw.gmail
    The high levels of immigration to the UK do not happen by accident. They are a consequence of a series of choices successive governments in the UK have made about the UK Labour Market. They have made these choices at the behest of those sections of industry that are primarily focused on short term profit. The social consequences of this are rarely in evidence.
    Sadly the Progressive side of politics has largely focused its attention on the consequences of Immigration into the UK rather developing a coherent narrative about why it occurs in the first place. Until and unless we get a coherent analysis of what is going on we are not going to get a policy about what we should be doing about it.

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    1. Agreed. Immigration is not a natural consequence like fog, rain and cloud-cover, it's the result of deliberate policy and actions by the state. Or gross incompetence in running those functions.

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    2. The high levels of immigration to the UK do not happen by accident. [ ... ] choices at the behest of those sections of industry that are primarily focused on short term profit.»

      Not just industry: many southern affluent middle class property owners and pensioners who are enthusiastic about lower wages and higher house prices in the south thanks to immigrants, and think that as long as the immigrants know their place and keep to their filthy basements and don't show their rude foreign mugs in public it is fine.

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    3. The Labout govt limited unskilled immigration from outside the EU. A policy choice. I doubt SW-L would argue against removing the limit, because he knows it would be a unnecessary vote loser. That leaves the question of why SW-L doesn't want to limit unskilled immigration from the EU. Because it would legitimise fascists? Because the anti-immigration economic arguments are often guesswork and thus should be defeated to teach people a lesson? Dislike of the 90s Tory Europhobes or 2010s Kippers and desire to give them a bloody nose? With the prospect of the Tories getting back in in 2020 with the help of immigration policy I think the stakes are too high to defend mass immigration any more.

      Nonetheless I think Blissex is trying to be a mind reader over what affluent southerners think and doesn't know what "many" of them "think". I agree to the extent that there has certainly been a middle/working class split over Brexit.

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  10. I wouldn't say they treat it that differently from medical evidence. For medical evidence they choose sensational unreviewed conference presentations pre-publication, and even then twist the findings. Or they debate between experts and quacks. Or they fight data with anecdote.

    My experience is the media reports anything you know about incredibly badly. So what you think they are terrible at mainly depends on what you know, not how they report.

    So you hate their media reporting, and I cringe at their IT security advice constantly.

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  11. Well, science has also blamed disease on migration.
    Smallpox and influenza being two that are thought to have been spread by the migration of humans.

    Anyway, now we have Brexit, we will be able to discriminate against Jonny Foreigner when it comes to benefits etc. So we can now open our doors to the world and the newspapers can't claim we're being taken advantage of.
    An excellent, pro-migration outcome.

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  12. Yes, but don't immigrants represent more competition in the fields of housing and the job market, for locals with similar skills and resources? Doesn't that mean that immigration benefits the state sector (taxes), benefits companies, benefits the economy as a whole, but at the same time increases inequality and makes the lowest local class worse off? Middle and higher classes, and the state, benefit, but not all.

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    1. Why assume the supply of housing or jobs is fixed? A large-scale public housing programme (which could be self-financing at current interest rates) would tackle both and give sufficient boost to wages in the construction trades to more than offset any impact of migration.

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    2. Indeed, I'm always astonished by the fact that people don't get that social housing pays for itself over time (that's what rent does).

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    3. More importantly mass immigration means we can't discuss more important solutions for housing and so on due to the ease of blaming immigrants and the proven willingness of the public to believe it. And while Lyn is right that the supply of jobs is not fixed (immigration affects demand and output not just the number of jobseekers) a lot of people assume it's fixed, esp if they feel vulnerable. To be on the safe side.

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  13. While Quentin Hogg at the Tory Blackpool conference of October 1968 was criticising Enoch Powell for his views on race, Powell was in Morecambe launching his 'Morecambe budget' (see Wikipedia, Enoch Powell, 7.2 "Morecambe Budget").

    In their biography of Sir Keith Joseph, Denham and Garnett (pp175-76) say that "the Yorkshire Post was one of the few newspapers which gave Powell's ideas sympathetic consideration."

    It may or may not be a coincidence that it was in West Yorkshire where the Labour MP Jo Cox was killed.

    But you should always speak with care on these matters irrespective.

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  14. I think that you are arguing against a strawman here. No-one is arguing to end immigration entirely so you should be arguing the economic case for unrestricted over selective immigration which your references in previous blogs don't support. Membership of the Single Market may be one justification but Corbyn is arguing against this. Corbyn's views probably derive from Marxist concepts of open borders and he is being consistent with his principles whereas your economic arguments are dubious at best.

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  15. >Why does society no longer blame immigrants for spreading disease?

    Umm, it does:

    http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/281402/Immigrants-blamed-for-tuberculosis-increase

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-191209/Migrants-blamed-diseases.html


    Nothing's changed.

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    1. Here in the States a few years ago, Lou Dobbs spent an entire episode of his CNN show blaming immigrants for leprosy using falsified numbers. It's still out there.

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    2. Then Labour has a choice. 1. Promise to keep mass immigration, but muzzle the press to prevent itself losing elections over the issue. Then lose the election as a result of saying so. Or: 2. Admit you can't muzzle the press and reducing immigration is so popular and economically harmless that they should do it, and win elections to carry out other left wing stuff which is important, unlike mass immigration which is not important to have.

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  16. Indeed, its an appalling state of affairs and has no place in a progressive party of the left. Many of these same MP's were vocal campaigners for Remain and thus, the free movement of EU citizens. Makes you wonder, doesn't it? Craven opportunists.*

    *I would distinguish between genuine Blue Labour types and the recent converts. As much as I disagree with the former, they are at least consistent and coherent.

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  17. "For example immigrants use the NHS, but they also pay taxes that allow us to fund more NHS resources,"

    Tax doesn't fund anything. Besides, if a native had a job they would pay the tax. If you want more resources ban private healthcare, design custom jobs for doctors and other staff who retired addressing their concerns, stop propagating myths about government funding that result in wasted resources and stop only *unskilled* migrants who would not get a visa from taking up resources.

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    1. This comment is meaningless as far as I can see.

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  18. Immigrants may not be blamed in this country, but if you look in the comments section of any Fox News article about Zika or Ebola or any other infection (whether transmissible between people or not), you'll see that the belief that immigrants are bringing in diseases is alive and well. And invariably in one of the top "liked" comments.

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  19. A dishonourable mention for Nigel Farage and 'migrant aids'

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  20. I'm no UKIP fan, but to be fair the call to reduce HIV entrants was less about spreading disease and more about saving money.

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  21. You say that most experts *know* that popular concerns are wide of the mark, but is that really so? The experts may have studied the subject and failed to find a statistically significant effect, but that is quite different from showing that there *is* no effect. Would is not be strange if importing large numbers of unskilled young people, for example, didn't change the balance of employment, wages and even crime (guessing that the young commit more crimes on average) in an economy, even if it is difficult to measure? Or that importing Indian programmers (my trade) doesn't at the least suppress wage growth? And you just admitted that access to the NHS really is affected by incomers - they pay more tax but that tax doesn't now or at any time go automaticaly to expanding the services that are put under increased pressure (for whatever reason).

    It is all very well to want immigration to be positive all round (I'm a UK expart in Ecuador and formerly Germany so I have skin in the game), but ignoring real issues that people experience in favour of theory is what gets 'experts' ignored. Or is there really some evidence of absense (of effect) as opposed to an absense of evidence?

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    1. Good point. If you want to be considered an expert you really should have answers to these simple questions.

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    2. What is hilarious about this response is that you are happy to employ theory yourself - for example "...importing Indian programmers... doesn't at the least suppress wage growth..." but deride theory used by experts.

      The theory you employ is what Noah Smith calls 101ism.

      Other (more nuanced/expert!) theories recognize the possibility of complementarities between different workers, specialisation, economies of scale, comparative advantage, the possibility that investment and the capital stock may also be changing and so on and so on - all of which can more easily be reconciled with the observation (that holds time and time again) that immigration does not reduce wages.

      Actually it's yourself ignoring the real issues.

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    3. Theory is a tool, Magnus, not a master.

      "Other (more nuanced/expert!) theories recognize the possibility..."

      Ah, so there is more than one. So which is correct? It is not like science, you can't do a controlled experiment to find out.

      I don't deride theory. SW-L accepts that NHS access really is affected by incomers whatever theory one can construct that says it should not be. Is he deriding theory?

      It may well be that immigration doesn't reduce wages on average, though I doubt very much that that can be measured. But, to be rather trivially obvious, immigration lawyers will do better with higher immigrant flows so just taking averages, everyone else can do a little worse and the overall effect can be zero. So theory wins but in this example it was worthless.

      So clearly a theory that applies to the economy as a whole does not necessarily apply to every individial part of it. That must surely be understood.

      Regarding my "theory", put yourself in the position of a trade body whose members face a shortage of programmers (or accountants, economists, lawyers, whatever). Do you push government for more programmers from India or do you push your members to, say, double programmers' pay, increase apprenticeships and training to attract more people into programming? Which will be the easier? Which will be cheaper in the short run? Which raises wages for sure and which probably does not? Are those difficult questions?

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    4. That isn't 101ism, since William was merely asking a question and not making a claim.

      Observation time and time again? "The large body of research finds that immigration has a negative and small — albeit statistically significant and consistent — impact on wages (Longhi, Nijkamp, and Poot 2005; Kerr and Kerr 2011), with some studies showing larger negative effects (Borjas 2003; Altonji and Card 1991). Regarding job displacement, most of the evidence suggests immigration has negative but mostly minor effects on employment (Longhi, Nijkamp, and Poot 2008). http://www.levyinstitute.org/publications/the-impact-of-immigration-on-the-native-born-unemployed (The Levy Institute is left wing)

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    5. Theory is not important at all. The facts are.

      Unfortunately economists are very precious when it comes to their theory. Like an evangelist that sees evidence of the arrival of the New Jerusalem, economists will see Neo-classical theory.

      SWL writes It is true that "with rational expectations the future will have an impact on the present. That is why the exchange rate fell sharply on news of the vote. "

      Do you really think the exchange rate fell because of rational expectations? It would be better if you consulted major currency market players to find out the real reasons why people decided not to purchase or sell sterling. My guess is that it relates to uncertainty about the future and decisions being put on hold, but in the end like a proper social scientist you have to get the documented evidence - including talking to the players and getting the necessary info from them - to find out. You will probably find there is in fact also a lot of understandable but what could actually be called irrational behaviour going on here.

      Toy models are not the way to get to the facts. This is one reason experts, and economists in particular, are greatly distrusted by many scholars outside the profession, not to mention the general public. It is also, I think, what Paul Romer is really trying to get at.

      NK.

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  22. The question is, what is a community's response to threats or stresses? Looking at communities dominated by an ethnic in-group, that group's conventional repertoire of responses consists of the ready- made all- purpose "source" of problems, i.e., the out group. It would be nice for communities to have a structural capacity for rational responses to threats and stresses, e.g., the categories that make possible a competent causal analysis of the problem. Hopefully our civilizations will survive until that day when they have them.

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  23. the ultimate irony is people from continental europe who live in london have heard so many bad things about the NHS that they usually get treatment "back home" than in england...

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  24. These arguments are facile and dishonest, as is given away at the start by the phrase "Blaming immigrants".

    In a period of admitted mass immigration, currently trending at over 600,000 new immigrants every year, it is not 'blaming' immigrants to suggest that the numbers are too high.

    UCL produced a study which showed that while immigration from the EU had a net positive economic effect (which does not necessarily imply a social benefit), immigration from outside the EU had a severe negative economic impact.

    Shame on you.

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    1. Stopping mass immigration is a political necessity whatever SWL says about the economic impact. Enough people believe that they are worse off because of immigration to keep Labour out of power regardless of whether it's true. Why compromise on every issue EXCEPT this one? Will we turn into Nazis if we stop immigration?

      I would like a link to the UCL study. Net economic effect on the whole economy, or on income per capita? The latter is what people are concerned about. Adding more people may make the economy bigger, but if that growth doesn't raise per head incomes then it's pointless.

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  25. I'd be very interested in seeing more comparison with Japan's immigration strategy. Japan seems like a very affluent and harmonious country that works very well. I got the impression that people of all walks of life were respected and valued there. As a visitor, I got the impression they were very friendly towards foreigners. But they have a policy of restricted immigration that many people would consider monsterous for us to have here. What's that all about? I worry that we tend towards the situation where many people here get cast aside because it is easier to employ a more capable migrant than to make the most of the people we already have.

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  26. The labour market economist, leading expert on the economic effects of immigration and Harvard professor, George Borjas estimates that the distributional effects of immigration are at least a factor of 10 larger than the average effect. This helps to explain why many people are correct to believe they are losing while research finds on average the effect of immigration is close to zero for natives. I suppose it also explains why a lot of lobbying money is spent by some groups that are clearly on the "winning" side when immigration increases.

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    1. "the distributional effects of immigration are at least a factor of 10 larger than the average effect"

      I'm unsure what this means. Please elaborate.

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  27. Once again I agree with your views entirely. What I hope you see now is that Corbyn has been re-elected because he has been consistent and clear on the principles that matter. He has not been swayed by opportunistic popular opinion but has remained true to progressive values. I hope he, and we, can now rely on your support?

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  28. «Watching certain Labour politicians trying to get on to the anti-immigration bandwagon is painful to see.»

    But easy to explain... Those people were parachuted as Progress entrysts onto safe Labour seats, which are safe for Labour as they tend to be in low-income northern ex-mining and ex-industrial areas that would never vote Conservative, and they gave for granted that voters in those safe seats would keep voting Labour without much knowing who their MP was. There is ample evidence, for example: «Interviews with 1,128 people found that 22% of people could name their own MP, compared with 38% in 2011.» (Hansard, BBC)

    Now there is a disconnect there: those MPs are quite right wing and think that the Labour party should represent southern «aspirational voters who shop at John Lewis and Waitrose» (T Hunt) and thus labour should be a «quasi-Conservative Party but that we should stick our necks out on Europe.» (P Mandelson, but I think that S Wren-Lewis has recently argued for the same).

    The problem is that many right wing MPs have drawn a lot of attention to themselves by campaigning very loudly against "Leave" and against Corbyn, and their constituency voters, and in particular their CLPs, have woken up and taken notice. It will be interesting to see how Owen Smith, Angela Eagle and Tristram Hunt will explain their positions to their CLPs.

    Even worse the elimination of 50 seats and boundary changes result in the disappearance of many of those safe seats, and the current entrysts will have to apply for selection in a new seat, and will have to explain at selection time in a new seat to many pro-Corbyn, pro-Remain CLPs in safe seats why they campaigned anti-Corbyn, anti-Leave.

    That explains also the suicidally nasty attacks of the PLP against Corbyn: if Owen Smith had won the leadership, he could have rammed with NEC complicity a lot of right-wingers down the throat of the CLPs of newly defined safe constituencies, like Tristram Hunt was.

    With Jeremy Corbyn as leader, as he has said that mass re-selections will likely not happen, he won't certain endorse MPs who have attacked him personally and publicly. In the next few years being *endorsed by Corbyn* (and helped by Momentum mobilization) will help candidates win selections and after that elections.

    Thus the sudden turnaround of many quasi-Conservative (or worse: Rachel Reeves has been considerably to the right of Ian Duncan Smith on social insurance) entryst MPs-for-life on discovering they may have be selected by their CLP instead of P Mandelson.

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  29. Instead of free movment of people could we not have free movment of jobs.Allowing people to come if they have jobs already set up,and having employers prove that the job as advertised here first.

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    1. This is pretty much what Cameron negotiated as part of his pre-referendum deal. Sadly, most people I spoke to in the referendum run-up parroted the right-wing media line that the deal 'isn't worth the paper it's written on', indicating these details didn't seep into voters' thinking.

      That deal is now shredded, but I was hopeful these elements will be resurrected in the Brexit negotiations to come - Theresa May's recent speech suggests not. Her focus appears to be on forcefully reducing immigration, which wouldn't happen under this system as, despite what some papers have been saying for years, the vast majority of EU migrants come here to work, not claim benefits.

      S

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  30. So sticking their necks out for the EU was wrong? Of course it wasn't.

    If you want MPs to go for evidence, as of course they should, that means doing it for the EU, as well as on austerity and immigration.





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