Tom won second place in the Adam Smith Institute’s 'Young Writer on Liberty' competition. The theme of the competition was '3 Policy Choices to make the UK a Freer Country', and the following is one of Tom's policy suggestions.
Current immigration policy is scandalous and highly damaging to the economy. By trying to limit the number of migrants severely, we are missing out on high calibre academics, scientists and engineers. Perhaps the government could simply increase its target for immigration or ‘auction’ visas. These changes would be an improvement, but they don’t go nearly far enough.
If we really want an immigration policy that maximises freedom, income and happiness, then the best immigration policy is to not have on at all. Paradoxical? I’ll explain. The UK should operate acompletely free, open-door immigration policy. If it sounds radical, that’s because it is. Political rhetoric would have you believe that immigration is wholly bad; they take our jobs, lower our wages and steal from the public purse. Nothing could be further from the truth. Firstly, immigrants create jobs as well as filling them, by demanding goods and services. The pool of jobs is not fixed. The overall number of jobs in the economy increases due to immigration. Secondly, migrants don’t lower wages, studies have shown that they increase wages on average. Lastly, they contribute to, not steal from, the public purse. The IFS found that while we native Brits only pay 0.8 times as much in tax as we receive from the government, migrants in fact pay in 1.4 times as much. They are funding our benefits, not the other way around!
So, the political rhetoric on immigration is misleading. But would a completely open immigration policy really lead to significant economic benefits? Well, yes. Emphatically, unequivocally yes! Professor Lant Pritchett found that just a 3% rise in the developed world’s labour force through migration would lead to benefits larger than those from the elimination of trade barriers. Think what a completely open door immigration policy could achieve! Indeed, estimates about the effects of completely open migration suggest global GDP could rise, roughly, by between 70% to 150%!
Of course, migrants benefit society culturally too. Cuisine, art, music, culture; they are all enhanced by migrants. I for one would be much poorer culturally if I couldn’t get an Indian takeaway on a Saturday night!
Migrants bring huge economic benefits, and enhance our culture too, making the UK a more interesting place to work, rest and play. Evidently, if we want to make society freer, happier and richer, a completely open immigration policy is the way to go.