Ageing of the population not solved by high immigration

The past week has seen a lot of reporting on Australia’s high levels of immigration and population growth.  The reports were sparked by the release of the latest Intergenerational Report.

Headlines such as Australia ’sleepwalking’ into population disaster have questioned the perceived wisdom that an ever-increasing population is a good thing.  It’s heartening to see a federal politician express his concern that the current high immigration levels will result in “Declining housing affordability, traffic congestion, over-crowded concrete jungles.”

The treasurer, however, seems oblivious to any of these concerns, as well as the concerns raised by TheRealists.  Instead of listening to the concerns of Australian citizens, the treasurer has opened a new front on the population debate, arguing that high levels of immigration are required to reduce the ageing of the population.

When the latest Intergenerational Report predicted that Australia’s population will rise to 35 million in 40 years’ time the treasurer, when referring to the economic consequences said “It is arguably one of two of our greatest economic challenges along with climate change.”

This statement shows the enormity of the task people have when arguing that immigration is too high.  The treasurer didn’t say that ‘Obviously immigration is too high and is already causing overcrowding in our cities and forcing up house prices’.  He didn’t say ‘Obviously our population is ageing so we must boost productivity so that we can support our ageing population into the future’.  You won’t hear words like that coming from the treasurer.

Instead, the treasurer just accepted that the only solution to an ageing population is to maintain record levels of immigration.  By referring to it in the same breath as climate change the treasurer hopes to gain consensus that this is a challenge that must be faced, that we must cater for more and more people arriving in this great country every year.

But does the evidence stack up?  Is immigration the best way to counter population ageing?

The short answer is, no, not really.  Immigration is indeed part of the solution, but not at the record high levels we have currently.

The problem with using immigration to reduce population ageing is that migrants age too.  You end up bringing more and more people, in the many hundreds of thousands of people each year into the country indefinitely.

There have been previous studies carried out into this very question.  The conclusions of The Impact of Immigration on the Ageing of Australia’s Population produced in 1999 were as follows (emphasis added):

“This level [80,000] of annual net migration also makes a worthwhile and efficient contribution to the retardation of population ageing. Levels of annual net migration above 80,000 become increasingly ineffective and inefficient in the retardation of ageing.  Those who wish to argue for a higher level of immigration must base their argument on the benefits of a larger population, not upon the illusory ‘younging power’ of high immigration.

The effects upon ageing of a younger immigrant intake or higher migrant fertility are very small. Furthermore, implementation of either measure would be problematic. They are not realistic options.”

The paper says ‘They are not realistic options’…that was 1999.  Now it’s 2009 and the ‘not realistic options’ are reality with Net Overseas Migration over 200,000 per year.

In an embarrassment for the treasurer, the treasury website also states that immigration cannot stop the ageing of the population.  The Treasury website states the following in the Australia’s Demographic Challenges section (emphasis added):

“But increased migration cannot prevent our population from ageing. This is because migrants who come to Australia will age along with the rest of the population. To maintain Australia’s existing age structure through immigration would require increases in immigration every year — and the increases would need to become progressively larger and larger to take account of the ageing of the migrants themselves. While there are undoubted benefits in maintaining net overseas migration, migration cannot stop the ageing of our population.”

Perhaps by increasing the font size as well the treasure may pay attention.

Fortunately, as opposed to politicians, there are some sensible people in the community who make it their business to know a lot about population and demographics.

Professor Bob Birrell of the Monash University Centre for Population and Urban Research has been quoted in The Australian as saying (emphasis added):

“”The government seems to have bought the argument that business in Australia needs a high amount of labour force growth to keep it going in the future. The rest of us are going to have to bear the consequences of that.  The government doesn’t seem prepared to explore how we need to make social adjustments; rather, they are relying on the prop of bringing in more people of younger ages to essentially put all the older people to bed.”

The government should listen to the advice of specialists in this area as well as the advice that it has published on its own websites.  Population ageing is a challenge, but the solution is not to bring ever-increasing numbers of people to Australia.

The answer lies in things that are occurring already.  Already people are working longer and delaying retirement, meaning they place less of a burden upon society.  In the same way, the minimum age for the aged pension is being increased.  Compulsory superannuation has been in effect since 1993 and will reduce the burden of an ageing population in the medium to long term.

Our wealth as a nation continues to grow, and will grow into the future, meaning we will have enough resources to support the increased number of elderly people.  And to top it all off the fertility rate has been increasing recently, from 1.79 to 1.93 in the past two years.

The treasurer this week launched the Australian Institute for Population Ageing Research.  It is supposed to “examine the impacts of the ageing population on the economy, society and environment.”

I’ll give him some advice for free.  Maintain and implement policies that will build wealth.  Reduce the levels of immigration.  With these policies Australia will cope just fine over the next 50 years, and will be a much better society for it.

source: The Realists.

The views represented in articles republished on the this site reflect the views of the original author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Protectionist Party.

Comments

  1. People need to come to terms with the reality that the vast majority of politicians have no idea what’s going on. Their every utterance is prepared by spin doctors, who ultimately follow orders from the bankers.

    We elect a bunch of puppets with banker’s arms up their arses.

    Anyone who thinks this is democracy talks out of the same place the banker’s arms go.

  2. Shockadelic says:

    Does it occur to our “leaders” that migrants may in fact be contributing to the aging problem?
    By the time most people migrate they are already half way through their reproductive and occupational lifespans.

  3. Dead right R Dub.

    We all need to sport t-shirts saying SORRY, AUSTRALIA IS FULL, & AUSTRALIA… NO VACANCIES.

  4. Regardless of population ageing. This country cannot support a larger population, of any age. We are overloaded on resources already, natural and man made. ie. Water, Food production, Health care, Power, as in electricity.
    No more immigration till this is all sorted!

  5. A study a decade or so ago showed that far from being an asset, migrants are a drain on the economy for an average of 20 years before becoming moving into the black. But many, especially Lebanese and Vietnamese are a permanent liability. Chinese will always be, because they send our money home to China, or cheat Aussies who they regard as ‘foreign devils’.

    Secondly, the aging population does not need to be carried by the young. In 1945 there was a referendum to approve the spirit and functions of the Social Services Act, which was passed accordingly in 1946. This authorised a 7.5% (1/6 in the 1£) special levy to be paid into the Welfare Fund. It is still being paid by every worker today. This was an inviolate interest-earning fund sacrosanct from Government meddling or fiddling of the till. Only another referendum could alter this arrangement.

    Nevertheless, Bob Menzies ratted this fund, illegally diverting it into Consolidated Revenue, and Paul Keating applied means-testing on age pensioner’s own compulsory savings. Both acts were dishonest and absolutely illegal.

    Of more urgency is not to have more parasitical and job swallowing migrants to further upset our Aussie culture, but to reinstate the legitmate Age Pension, which acturaries evidently have identified as worth $6000 more than age pensioners are receiving today. In other words, every age pensioner in Australia suffers the theft of $6000 every year by these dispicable criminals we call politicians.

    Why do we tolerate this? A thieving, dishonest government has lost its right to our tolerance. If we Aussies are real men or women we will kick them out now and install a Caretaker Government made up of former and still respected senior public servants and the few surviving honest politicians.

    Only this time, we must make sure these listen to the people.

  6. Treasury’s “But increased migration cannot prevent our population from ageing. This is because migrants who come to Australia will age along with the rest of the population. To maintain Australia’s existing age structure through immigration would require increases in immigration every year — and the increases would need to become progressively larger and larger to take account of the ageing of the migrants themselves. While there are undoubted benefits in maintaining net overseas migration, migration cannot stop the ageing of our population.” exposes the whole arguement in all its phoniness. This has to be just about the biggest Ponzi scheme in the world

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