Commenting on UKIP's upcoming announcement that its general election manifesto will pledge to bring UK net migration down to 50,000 people per year for employment, Research Director of the Adam Smith Institute, Sam Bowman, said:
UKIP’s line on immigration is intellectually and morally bankrupt. Despite what UKIP claims, immigration is good for virtually everyone in society, rich and poor alike. The evidence is clear that even low-skilled immigration only hurts low-skilled native wages temporarily, and does not affect the number of jobs available to natives at all. The reason for this is that immigrants demand services as well as supplying them: every job taken by an immigrant also means a new job will be created to supply him or her with their needs.
Opposing immigration is economically no different to 19th Century-style trade protectionism – the only difference is where the people we’re trading with are. Economists, left and right, agree that trade makes everyone richer, and immigration just allows us to trade with more people more often at home. One of the best things about the EU has been the guarantee of free movement between member states; to throw that away would be an economic catastrophe. If UKIP's priority is to leave the EU, it is vital that they maintain open borders with the EU.
Immigrants are a huge boon to the welfare state. Because they are usually young and motivated to find work, they pay more in taxes overall than they cost the state in services. As Britain gets older, with more and more retirees to provide for with pensions and healthcare, we will need more immigrants to avoid a massive debt crisis by 2050. Far from being a cost to the state, immigrants may be the only way to fulfill our obligations to the older generation.
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The Adam Smith Institute is an independent libertarian think tank based in London. It advocates classically liberal public policies to create a richer, freer world.