Posted on June 18, 2014

Mass Immigration Not the Secret to Economic Growth, Says OECD

John Bingham, Telegraph (London), May 20, 2014

Mass immigration has brought little or no overall financial benefit to the UK and other countries, a study by the club of the world’s leading economies has concluded.

Evidence from around the world over the last 50 years shows that immigrants are not a “panacea” to boost economic growth but nor are they a “major burden” on the taxpayer, new analysis by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) finds.

Overall, the fiscal impact of migration in OECD countries has been “broadly neutral” with taxes paid by new arrivals usually matching what they receive in benefits, it finds.

Although in some countries the amount immigrants contribute to the public purse exceeds what they receive, new arrivals contribute less overall than the existing population, because many are less well paid.


It comes in marked contrast to the findings of a report by University College London last year which concluded that European migrants contributed £8.8 billion more to the British taxpayer than they received over a 16-year period.

Campaigners for tougher immigration restrictions said it amounted to a “nail in the coffin” of the argument that immigration provides a major economic boost to Britain.

“Measuring the impact of migration on the public purse is a complex task,” the study by Jean-Christophe Dumont, head of the OECD’s International Migration Division, concludes.

“Nevertheless, over the past 50 years migrants appear to have had a broadly neutral impact in OECD countries.

“In other words, the cost of whatever state benefits they received was largely covered by the taxes they paid.”

“Where migrants did have a fiscal impact, it rarely exceeded plus or minus 0.5 per cent of GDP.

“But while the impact of immigrants on the public purse is, broadly speaking, neutral, it is less favourable than that of native-born people.

“In short, migrants are not a major burden on state spending, but nor are they a panacea for improving public finances.”

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of the campaign group Migration watch, said: “Gradually the claims for the benefits from immigration have been fading and this is another nail in he coffin.”

Britain had the third highest number of new arrivals among the world’s leading economies in 2012, after the US and Germany, with 282,600 in 2012.

The total was in fact 11 per cent down on that for the previous year but more recent figures from the Office for National Statistics show a further increase in the number of people arriving to settle during the course of 2013.

International migrants account for around 12 per cent of the UK population, or 7.8 million people, according to the OECD. The UK is one of 10 countries, which together are hosting half of all the world’s immigrants.

By far the biggest change was in Germany, which jumped from fifth to second place in the rankings with a startling 72 per cent increase in the number of new permanent migrants in 2012.

Within the OECD, the number of migrants jumped by 35 per cent in the last decade, the study said, while the number of people moving within the EU “soared” in 2012, with 925,000 Europeans moving to another country.

Over the past 10 years immigrants accounted for 70 per cent of the increase in the European workforce and almost half of that in the US, the report finds.

Significantly the UK is close to the top of the world emigration rankings, with 3.5 million Britons living permanently in other OECD countries, behind only Mexico and China and ahead on India.