Economist on Immigration

An email from the Economist magazine says the following:

Earlier this year I went on a trip. First stop was San Francisco, to which people interested in artificial intelligence seemed to be flocking in their thousands. Then I went to Britain, where on landing I read that net migration (immigration minus emigration) had hit a record. Next up was Newfoundland, Canada’s easternmost province. For hundreds of years the island’s population has been homogeneous. But all of a sudden, downtown St John’s, the capital, feels less like Dublin in the 1950s and more like modern-day Toronto. The waiter serving us at the best sushi restaurant in town was Ukrainian. 

This got me thinking: is migration surging everywhere? 

The answer, it turns out, is yes. As we report this week, the foreign-born population of the rich world is rising by about 4% a year—probably a record high. By our estimation, net migration is at an all-time high in Australia, Britain, Canada, Germany and Norway, and probably many more countries besides. In America it is high, but not unprecedentedly so. 

Why? Some people are making up for lost time. They would have liked to move in 2020 or 2021, but could not because of covid-19 restrictions. 
The rich world’s foreign-born population is higher than forecast in 2019, however, suggesting other factors are at play. One relates to refugees. Millions of Ukrainians have fled since the start of Russia’s invasion. Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers, seeking to escape Chinese oppression, have left. 

Red-hot demand means that across the rich world there are plenty of unfilled vacancies. This is especially true in sectors such as health care. Meanwhile, governments are helping the process along. Politicians may talk tough on migration, but many are facing up to the reality that they need people from abroad to fill jobs. Policy is moving in a decisively pro-migrant direction. 

Could there be a backlash? It was less than a decade ago that Britain voted for Brexit, and Americans for Donald Trump. Something similar could happen again. But for now, celebrate the surge. It is a good thing for receiving countries—and it is a great thing for many of those who make the journey. 

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