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Pros of Immigration

While many view immigration as a cultural crisis, the pros of immigration are significant. Immigration is a point of contention as immigrants change the face of a population and bring their own culture with them. Moreover, immigrants receive criticism if they do not fully integrate, by not speaking the country’s primary language. Some people simply feel there’s no room for immigrants. They fear their jobs will be taken or undercut by the low wages some immigrants are willing to work for.

In spite of these concerns, it is undeniable that immigrants infuse much needed vitality into the economy. They build businesses, create jobs and bring new perspectives. Most importantly, welcoming immigrants supports and promotes an international standard of human rights. Everyone should be able to settle somewhere safe, healthy and stable—especially if their native country is not so.

Below is an immigration case study of sorts, demonstrating the economic benefits of immigration in Japan, the U.S., and Western Europe.

Japan

Plagued by an aging population and declining birth rates, immigration provides Japan with a new source of young workers. The Japanese Health Ministry predicts that by 2060, the country’s population will fall to 86.74 million. This is a 40 million decrease since 2010. Currently, 20 percent of Japan’s population is over 65 years old. As a result, this burdens Japan’s shrinking workforce with the funds for their pensions and healthcare. But immigration into Japan ensures the nation’s economy can maintain itself as people retire.

Japan is historically unwelcoming to immigrants, believing peace and harmony to be rooted in homogeneity. As such, the nation’s immigration policy reflects this. Japan only allows a small number of highly skilled workers into the country. This policy has been in place since 1988 to combat labor shortages. However, this is no longer enough to combat Japan’s worsening economy. In 2018, labor shortages in the nation were the highest they had been in 40 years.

However, the pros of immigration in Japan are clear. Without it, Japan faces an incredibly insecure economic future. With no sign of population growth, the nation’s perpetually shrinking workforce will become unable to support its retired citizens. However, immigrants can round out the workforce in Japan. And they can neutralize any economic woes the nation might face in the future by preventing labor shortages.

USA

The cultural and economic contributions immigrants have made to America are vast, overwhelmingly advantageous and long-lasting.

A study done by economists at Harvard, Yale and the London School of Economics found US counties that accepted more immigrants between 1860 and 1920 are doing better today as a result. These counties have significantly higher incomes, higher educational achievement, less poverty and lower unemployment because immigrants provided the low-skilled labor needed to support rapid industrialization. Undeniably, immigrants have always and still continue to increase economic growth in America.

Similarly, immigrants in the U.S. have been integral to innovation and entrepreneurship. Half of all startups in America worth over a billion dollars have been founded by immigrants. Eleven of these startups employ more than 17,000 people in the U.S. Some of these companies, such as Uber and WeWork, have significantly changed American culture. They modify the way Americans live their daily lives. Therefore, the pros of immigration in the U.S. are grounded in the diversity of thought brought by immigrants, necessary to further American innovation and economic growth.

Western Europe

Like Japan, Western Europe is battling an aging population and declining birth rates. Fertility rates are expected to hit zero in the next decade. Consequently, this region may not be able to sustain its expansive social welfare programs as its workforce shrinks and retired populations grow. In Germany, the median age is 47.1 years, the oldest in Western Europe. This is only slightly younger than Japan’s 47.3 years. Besides convincing its native populations to have more children, immigration is their only alternative.

Immigration into Western Europe is an undeniable win for both the immigrants and the host countries. Many new immigrants in Western Europe have escaped unstable regimes, religious persecution, and economic downturn in North African and Middle Eastern countries. Thus, immigrants give the region a younger workforce that is able to sustain the region’s expensive social benefits. In return, Western Europe provides immigrants with jobs, stability, and a safe place to live.

While still a very divisive topic, the pros of immigration lie in its plethora of economic benefits. It is undeniable that immigration has always been the driver of economic growth, despite all of the criticism. Immigration provides immigrants with an alternative to oppressive regimes and other instability, of course. And the pros of immigration for nations absolutely outweigh the cons.

Jillian Baxter
Photo: Pixabay

ILO_report
A recent report by the International Labor Organization shows that only one-fourth of the world’s workers have stable contracts. The organization’s main annual report covers more than 180 countries and over 84 percent of the workforce.

The remaining three-quarters are employed informally, illegally, on a temporary basis, with short-term contracts, through unpaid family work or are self-employed, said the ILO’s World Employment Social Outlook 2015 report titled, “The Changing Nature of Jobs.”

Among workers who earn salaries, only 42 percent have permanent contracts.

The finding revealed a clear shift away from reliable full-time jobs to an increase in short-term contracts and irregular hours. The standard model of full-time work is becoming less and less representative of today’s global job market.

This worldwide trend of moving away from more permanent employment risks “perpetuating a vicious circle of weak global demand and slow job creation” that has strongly affected many countries since the 2008 crisis, ILO said. This decline of steady jobs is accompanied by soaring global unemployment. Last year, 201 million people found themselves jobless, 30 million more than before the 2008 financial crisis.

There is some variation between countries and income levels. In higher-income countries, more than three-quarters of workers are employed on permanent contracts, although less than two-thirds of those are full time, the ILO report said. In middle-income countries, almost 72 percent of workers are employed without a contract and in 13 low-income countries with available data, only 5.7 percent.

The permanence level of the employment is closely tied to income, with permanent workers earning significantly more than non-permanent ones, creating a nearly unbreakable cycle.

Many of these workers find themselves in dire poverty, with nearly one-fourth last year living on and supporting their families on less than $2 a day. What’s more, 10 percent of the global workforce lived on earnings of less than $1.25.

Nonetheless, these numbers show vast improvement from 20 years ago, when half of the world’s workers lived well below the $2 poverty line threshold.

“In some cases, non-standard forms of work can help people get a foothold into the job market. But these emerging trends are also a reflection of the widespread insecurity,” said Guy Ryder, ILO’s director-general.

– Alison Decker

Sources: The Guardian, Business Insider CNBC Business Standard
Photo: Flickr

Rope isolated on white background
Unsurprisingly, women complete the majority of the world’s unpaid work, which is primarily domestic in nature. The largest untapped source of global labor could potentially increase Egypt’s gross domestic product by 34 percent, according to a 2014 World Bank report.  Resulting growth would have the potential to drastically reduce economic inequality around the world.

How can a labor force that would strengthen the global economy remain so underutilized? Women have long faced the cultural and domestic limitations preventing them from prospering in the labor market. Over the past two decades, women’s presence in the workplace dropped by 2 percent. A lack of financial independence and control over one’s own education and family planning can threaten a woman’s job. Women would need more capital, education and networking connections in order to seriously compete with men in the global market.Legally, women face further discrimination. For his wife to work outside the house, 15 governments worldwide require a husband’s permission. Pension guidelines throughout many regions clearly differentiate between genders, resulting in a gap that increases the financial dependency of elderly women.

The kinds of jobs belonging to the women active in the economy are primarily part-time and low-wage. The International Labour Organization has found that the difference in pay between members of both sexes working the same job can range from 10 percent to 30 percent. Women in the workplace are grossly underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). In the informal sector, women are often exploited with little or no pay.

The World Bank research suggests that when women work, they form new consumer markets to spend portions of their income which spurs growth. Within a firm, promotion of current female employees cuts the cost of training and advertising for new male candidates. Companies with at least one female board member have proven 26 percent more profitable.

Diversity promotes new perspectives that lead to cost-cutting innovations, which would explain the difference. Latin America and the Caribbean, for example, saw a 35 percent rise in female involvement in the economy since 1990, and decades later, the region’s poverty rate is 30 percent lower than it otherwise would have been.

Encouraging change demands, as the Bank suggests, careful deconstruction of gender-based societal limitations. This means including gender equality education in early school curriculum, providing improved support for working mothers and giving women the same work benefits as men. Although the push for women in the workplace should expect years of future efforts, the financial benefits could be priceless.

– Erica Lignell

Sources: NPR, Tribune, World Bank
Photo:ListVerse

global population
The Pew Research Center recently published an article called “Attitudes About Aging: A Global Perspective.”  The article includes research and data from a survey about changing global perspectives on aging. The study projects by 2050, the global population of senior citizens 65 and older will reach 1.5 billion. According to the report, countries in East Asia such as China, South Korea and Japan will lead the world with a large graying population. What the Pew Research Center defines as the “dependent” population (citizens 15 years old and younger as well as 64-years and older) will soon be reversed for key countries. Though China currently has leads in the world’s largest population, by 2050, this current generation in the workforce will soon be a part of the “dependent” category. On the other hand, countries such as Nigeria (expected to triple in population) and Kenya (expected to double in population) will soon have a large population of youth enter the workforce. The Pew concludes countries from East Asia alongside their European counterparts (expected to continue to have a sizable older population by 2050) will have a diminished labor force and could pose challenges for economic growth. Global attitudes about the older population, however, do not prove so positive for certain countries. In South Korea, despite the high standard of living and wealth in the country, 50% of the country’s elderly population are living in poverty. The generation that helped South Korea’s meteoric rise in development has led to an inversion of their status in old age: homelessness and neglect with little governmental support. Currently, only one-third of elderly citizens receive pension. The young population in South Korea are moving towards the cities. Moreover, government polls display changing attitudes from the Confucian-based ideal of taking care of the elderly. The younger generation has shifted from 90% to 37% believing that they should take care of their parents. According to The Pew, more than one-third of citizens from Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States, along with South Korea, believe seniors should be self-reliant in their old age as opposed to receiving aid from the government. Meanwhile, countries that presently have large, young populations, such as Pakistan, Egypt, India, Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa will have a massive labor force that will hopefully have a positive impact on the labor market and promote economic development. Development in public health and education is crucial for Africa’s future working generation to live up to its potential. – Miles Abadilla Sources: Columbia Daily Herald, The Guardian, Pew Research Center Photo: Discover Magazine

India's Private Academies Help Reduce Poverty
Being one of the world’s most populous countries, India’s young workforce (age 25 and younger) is roughly double the population of the entire United States. While hundreds of millions of workers can be seen as an incredible resource, it also presents a pressing dilemma. India is currently posed with the problem of employment, which becomes more and more imminent as the young adult population increases.

In the next nine years, India must train 500 million people. To solve this issue, the Indian government has made practical job training a priority. Training centers such as Gras Learning Academy are becoming more and more popular as the demand for specific skills increases. Since the education offered at institutions such as Gras is so specific, it has a higher job placement rate. Due to this trend, Gras and other private academies are growing in number all over India.

However, Gras not only offers classes in specialized skills such as cellphone repair and computer networking. Academies like Gras offer classes in basic life skills for students from impoverished areas who may not have had the time or ability to attend middle and high school. These basic life skills include the importance of punctuality, speaking professionally with managers, and presenting yourself in a well-kept manner.

In many cases, the needs of struggling economies are overshadowed by prescriptive solutions that are often based on theory. However, private academies in India have addressed poverty very practically by understanding the setbacks of the students, and the demands of the workforce, building a bridge from one to the other.

– Pete Grapentien

Sources: The New York Times