This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Monday, October 22, 2012

Send in the Migrants?

Immigration policy in the United State is focused almost exclusively (and unsuccessfully) on keeping out undocumented immigrants. In Britain, the government of David Cameron seems to have focused on limiting the number of skilled legal workers. The Economist is opposed to this, as they discuss in some detail in this week's edition. 
In the past two years the coalition government has clamped down hard on legal immigration. David Cameron, the prime minister, has stuck with a promise to cut net migration to the “tens of thousands” by the end of this parliament in 2015. In practice this means curbing immigration from outside the European Union. Foreign students, who used to have the automatic right to work for two years after completing their courses, will have only a few months to find a licensed sponsor who will pay them at least £20,000 ($32,300) a year. The changes seem to be having the desired effect. In the year to June the number of work-related visas issued fell by 7%, while 21% fewer study visas were handed out (see chart).
As is true in the US, the problem is complicated by the fact that the economy is demanding more technical and scientific skills than the British schools are producing among the British-born. So, at the same time that there is unemployment among the British, there are jobs that need to be filled by immigrants because they are the ones with the requisite skills. This is a problem that goes beyond migration policy. It speaks to educational policy, and probably also to labor policy, since it is almost certainly the case that skilled immigrants are being paid less than home-grown talent. This is another aspect of globalization, but instead of job outsourcing, it is job insourcing (if that's a word). You know what I mean.

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