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The Economic Dimension of Europe's Immigration Debate

Stephen Dearden

This paper provides a critical review of the economic costs and benefits involved in the international migration of labour. It commences with an examination of recent trends in migration, addresses the demographic argument for immigration and then turns to the more substantive economic analysis. Focusing on the 'indigenous population' it considers the benefits to consumers and employers, the economic contribution of skill complementarity and the macroeconomic benefits of migration in reducing inflationary pressures. It then examines the potentially adverse economic impact upon competing labour and then considers the impact upon public finances. The limitations of the estimated effects is emphasised; in particular their failure to account for the impact upon social capital. Although some broad criteria can be established for maximising the benefits to the indigenous population of immigration it emphasises the difficulty of establishing robust empirical estimates and the judgments involved in defining both the 'indigenous populations' and the appropriate timeframe.

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