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 12th (it came out in 2015), 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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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Demographic Fallout If the UK leaves the EU

Next week will see voters in the UK decide the fate of the UK and the EU. Will the UK leave the EU (the "Brexit")? Everything that I have read suggests that leaving the EU will be bad for the EU and the UK alike. The problem is that there are unhappy people in the UK (as in the US) who think that foreigners have come in and taken their jobs and are also disproportionately drawing benefits from the government.  Their proposed solution (reminiscent of the ideas of Donald Trump) is isolation from Europe. Demographer Jane Falkingham at the University of Southampton has just written a policy brief for Population Europe that describes the situation. She details a variety of data sources and then offers the following key points:
EU-born migrants are more likely to be young, in employment, skilled with qualifications and in good health than UK citizens. Many of them are in partnerships with UK-born partners and a significant share of these couples have children.
Withdrawing entitlements to social support from EU migrants, and thereby individualising their social risks, makes it much harder for work-focused migrants to use their skills and capabilities to the fullest extent – with significantly negative consequences for the UK economy.
A Brexit may push certain EU migrants to apply for citizenship who would otherwise not contemplate applying. This, contrary to the expectation that a Brexit would limit the number of EU migrants in Britain, is likely to increase the number of British citizens possessing a broader set of political and social rights.
The consequences of a Brexit will immediately be negative for immigrants from the EU, but in the medium and long-term they will almost certainly be negative for the labor force and thus the overall economy of the United Kingdom.  

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