We have evidence that clearly shows the migration of people is good for the economy, and having laws that block or stifle migration risks ongoing negative impacts on employment, growth, and innovation.
Diversity is good for business, including gender, culture, skills, perspectives, race and religion, since it is believed that people from all corners of life making decisions typically means better decisions for more people.
Migrate: to move, like birds or whales might, from one place to another, for a while
Immigrate: to enter a country permanently or for a long time ("I am immigrating to...")
Emigrate: to exit a country permanently or for a long time ("I am emigrating from...")
The World Economic Forum has restated its position that the fearless conversations must continue no matter which important person they may offend or alienate; no mean feat when important relationships matter, for example between two countries. The statement says that the fear of having a vocal, research-backed pro-skilled-immigration stance is harmful. There is enough evidence that the movement of vetted people promotes economic growth, therefore from an economic perspective, migration is positive.
Migration does, however, have a social impact that has been and will increasingly be the source of much unrest. This is not a discussion of refugees or those seeking asylum, but of immigrants and migrants moving around the globe via less extreme channels, though there is some crossover. Modern Australia was built by immigrants, and there can be no doubt the way Australia looks, walks and talks today is due to the many influences of people from all over.
Australian research into migration
A decade-old study into the economic impacts of migration and population growth commissioned by the Australian Productivity Commission had a few things to say, starting with the (under)statement that migration has been an 'important influence on Australian society and the economy'. The emigration of Australians internationally has also risen over the years, but those leaving are far less than those coming in.
The report states that the economic effect of migration is unlikely to have a substantial impact on income per capita and productivity due to a relatively small flow of migrants, the fact that migrants are not very different to Australians, and over time, what difference there is becomes smaller.
What about research from the rest of the world?
Migrants into the UK paid 34 per cent more in taxes than they took from the system
The Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration, a UK economics department research centre at University College in London, conducted research into European migrants and their contribution to the UK system they entered into. A net contribution of £25 billion to the public purse was made, with taxes paid that equalled 34 per cent more than benefits paid.
The World Bank says...
Increasing immigration by a margin equal to three per cent of the workforce in developed nations, the World Bank says, will generate global economic gains of $356 billion.
Fact: migrants tend to be very entrepreneurial and innovative - a quick look at the United States shows this in very real terms: Hollywood was built by Eastern European Jews fleeing the Nazis, and five of the top tech companies (Google, Intel, PayPal, eBay, Yahoo!), half of every Silicon Valley start up, and more than half of all patents, were achieved by migrants. In the States, migrants only make up 15 per cent of the population, so this is an achievement.
Fact: qualified migrants often start off slow and work their way up, filling unskilled labour gaps until they find their feet. There is often an argument that immigrants 'steal' jobs off other low-paid workers, and while there is research that vaguely supports part of this notion, most migrants start off in these jobs, then move up into higher paid work, thus leaving the gap they filled open - it is a dynamic that has far more benefits than this tiny cost that sometimes occurs. According to the research, the impact is very small and is in constant flux.
Fact: migrants often send money to their home country, boosting the economy of poorer countries and paying a pretty penny for the privilege. This benefits both the sender and receiver, since improving economic resilience globally is good for everyone. Remittances have been predicted by the World Bank to hit $600 billion, and in 2016, the cost of sending money abroad was 7.2 per cent, compared to 9.8 per cent in 2008.
Fact: the free movement of labour means a more responsive, flexible, financially healthier population. Having people move around within Australia, for example, is seen as a benefit - we have a huge population working at mine sites around the country, with labour imported into these areas in huge numbers.
Having international imports to fill jobs, however, is not always seen as a popular move, but this is precisely how the backpacker regime works - to find seasonal workers in our young international tourists for farmers who can't function without it.
This applies more specifically to Europe, however, where with one downturn comes the ability for people to move around to find work in another area. Research says it also means the spread of wealth, ideas, innovation, and culture. This enriches us as a global population, while providing income for families across many timezones.
Putting the economy first does not mean closing the door to migrants, as we are seeing in political and social shifts across Europe and the United States, where conflicting forces are in fierce opposition.