Nations Look to Immigrants to Avert Economic Squeeze

Albert Bozzo, Yahoo! Finance, October 29, 2012

If you’ve ever wondered how the U.S. population could increase by almost 60 percent—to more than 300 million people—between the 1965 and 2010 national censuses, look no further than the Hart-Cellar Act, which ended a century-old policy of discriminating against non-northern European immigrants.

About half of the U.S. population growth over the last 45 years can be attributed to immigrants and their descendants, a demographic flood that has forever changed the nation. Today, one in five Americans is either a first- or second-generation U.S. resident, according to the Census Bureau.

During roughly the same period, the population of Japan increased about 30 percent, to almost 128 million. Only about 2.1 million were immigrants, according to Japan’s National Institute of Population and Social Security Research.

Japan also happens to be the oldest nation in the world and has one of the lowest fertility rates, according to the CIA Fact Book. After years of marginal growth, according to national census data, the population is now actually shrinking, experts say.

As striking as that is, Japan is not alone. Italy, Monaco, Greece and Germany have similar demographic profiles, according to a variety of statistics, and South Korea is likely to resemble Japan in a generation if dramatic changes are not undertaken.

The difference between these countries and the U.S.? Immigration policies.

“Countries that have traditionally been destinations for large immigration tend to have younger populations,” said Jacob Kirkegaard, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “There is another link, which is probably more important for the preparation of the aging, and that’s if you have a relatively liberal immigration policy you tend to have relatively higher fertility rates. Also, having a fairly liberal economy, open labor markets, easy access and an economy that is relatively flexible is often reflected in immigration policy.”


Countries from North America to Europe to Asia-Pacific are grappling with this demographic time bomb, which threatens the sustainability of national pension and health-care systems, and is prompting fundamental changes to retirement law and labor markets. {snip}


At the same time, countries such as Italy and Germany have liberalized immigration policy on top of the changes that came with the launch of the European Union’s single currency a dozen years ago, which opened borders to workers across a wide swath of member states.

Others, such as Japan and South Korea, however, have barely budged.


Over the 2000-2010 period, the percentage of immigrant workers, known as foreign worker inflows, in Japan and South Korea was relatively flat at 0.3 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively.

In contrast, inflows to Italy, Spain and the U.K. rose between 200 percent and 400 percent.

Italy recently overtook the U.S. in the pace of net migration, ranking among the top 25 in the world, according to the CIA Fact Book. Japan and South Korea ranked in the low 90s with no statistical growth in net migration.

“The European countries realize they need more workers,” said Nicholas Eberstadt, a political economist and demographer at the American Enterprise Institute, AEI. “Immigration augments the labor pool and changes the ratio between workers and retirees.”

These structural changes, which experts said are often unpopular, combined with immigration, can make a demographic difference. Such policies, however, must remain in place for long periods of time because second-generation immigrants usually adapt to local custom, which means smaller family sizes. Thus, new waves of immigrants are needed. The U.S., Australia and Canada are good examples of this dynamic.


Constructing and executing a successful immigration policy isn’t easy though, said experts.

“Immigration is politically difficult,” said MRI’s Sumption. “A lot of people talk about it as a no-brainer [as if] those who don’t do it are fools. [But] It can take a while to get used to the cultural problems it brings. There’s a greater risk of a backlash if you ramp up immigration too quickly.”


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  • Stentorian_Commentator

    What a crock it is to bring in immigrants.  Having one’s own children and relatives is so much more efficient a method of ensuring aging people get the care they need.  Who else might bring in an elderly relative for no cost?  All this stuff about immigrants contributing to Social Security is another crock.  At best it is a way to kick the can down the road until the time when those immigrants apply for benefits themselves, and due to the inversely graduated scale of benefits, those who have contributed the bare minimum will get relatively more than those who have contributed a lot, making for future subsidization of elderly immigrants.  What’s worse is that if they bring in one elderly relative while young, or have an anchor baby or two, all of the net benefit of the social security contributions will be blown away.  And none of this counts the relatively higher education costs and medical costs of immigrants.  A tremendous scam.

    • All this stuff about immigrants contributing to Social Security is another crock.


      If you’re into long boring accountanty screeds, I explained why six years ago:

      I’ll try to net it out in a for dummies version to keep you from having to read it.

      Illegal aliens are cheap labor.  Business profits aren’t taxed for Social Security and Medicare, only individual wages are on both the wage earners end and payroll end.  If not for the illegal aliens, the work would be done by people or means that would mean that more individual income earners would be earning more income and higher incomes, meaning more dollars exposed to Social Security tax rates.  But because of the illegals, the dollars aren’t being earned by individuals because of cheap labor are dollars that are business profits that aren’t exposed to Social Security taxes.

  • E_Pluribus_Pluribus

    Excerpt from “How Rising Immigration Affects Social Security,” by Representative Lamar Smith, Wall Street Journal, March 17, 2005:

    “Your March 10 editorial ‘The Old and the New’ asserts that immigration is good for our Social Security system. This is misleading. An increased number of immigrants today means an increased number of beneficiaries tomorrow. Studies show most immigrants tend to be less educated and earn lower wages than U.S.-born citizens. These individuals will receive about $100,000 more from Social Security than they paid into it. This will only worsen the financial problems Social Security faces. There are ways to strengthen Social Security, but increasing immigration is not one of them.”

  • Detroit_WASP

    When the blacks and browns eventually do wreck western civilization, they will blame whites.   They will claim that whites ruined the environment.  A black or brown will start the events leading to a nuclear war, then blame whites for splitting the atom and making nuclear weapons.

    Whites always get the blame because children always blame the adults.

    I guess that’s what they meant by, “The white man’s burden”  

    Intelligent blacks and browns know this isn’t true but they are vastly out-numbered by the dolts.

  • Ulick

    I’d rather live at a standard worse than my parents due to a poor economy than invite in loads of immigrants who may not help the economy, but certainly will increase burglaries, increase violent crime, lessen schools, lessen neighborhoods, and destroy the culture of America. I’d take the trade off of having less material goods but otherwise loving the environment I can raise my children in.

  • .

    Most immigrants only make the demographic problem worse because they use far more in government benefits than they pay in taxes.

  • NM156

    Has anyone read about the BP UK executive who was assassinated on the street in Spain recently? Let’s hope the transnational political, corporate, and financial elite are removed slowly before they annihilate the whole of Western Civilzation. They are impoverishing us while replacing us.

  • JohnEngelman

    More people mean less of everything good to go around. The only people who benefit from immigration are immigrants and their employers. American employees who already live here pay with higher prices, fewer jobs, and lower wages. 

  • KenelmDigby

    The fact is that the rate of unemployment across the EU (excluding Germany) is greater than that which existed in the nations of the Maghreb, which kicked off the Arab Spring, as discouraged youth in those nations were frustrated with their conditions.
     In Spain and Greece, most young people are jobless.
    Despite this, the immigrationists shamelessy and barefacedly insist that the EU ‘needs’ more immigration. This really shows you what sort of character the immigrationists have.
     They will lie. They will lie and lie and lie and lie – there is no falsehood they will not utter, no fact they will pervert or ignore, there are no morals entirely, which they will not allow to get in the way of their foul political agenda.
    Truly, we are dealing with very sick people.

  • Okay, next time, I’ll haul out the math, and I mean the full monty — Exposed algebra formulas.

    Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

  • Athling

    Here it is again. That straw man — “Immigration is needed for economic growth.” So flood the nation with racial aliens to the point that the nation is no longer recognizable as what it was and is on the brink of becoming a different country altogether. All in the name of economic expansion. This is pure bovine sheep dip.

    National demographics have always risen and dropped in cycles for various reasons — war, famine, disease, and the like. Nations have survived these cycles and the economy must expand and constrict accordingly. However, no nation can survive racial dissolution.