Migrants ‘could have negative impact on country’

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LARGE-scale immigration will have a negative effect on standards of living as any economic benefits will be outweighed by pressures imposed by a much bigger population, a think-tank has warned.

In a report on economic consequences of immigration, Cambridge University economist Robert Rowthorn said any gains would be small compared to strains placed on amenities such as housing, schools and hospitals.

The report, published by Civitas, said GDP as a whole would grow but GDP per capita would be only marginally affected by projected population growth forecast for the coming century.

In the report, Mr Rowthorn, emeritus professor of economics at Cambridge, said: “Unrestrained population growth would eventually have a negative impact on the standard of living through its environmental effects such as overcrowding, congestion and loss of amenity.

Such losses would ultimately outweigh the small gain in average wages, he added.

The paper comes amid an ongoing focus on immigration in, with the Prime Minister unveiling new restrictions on EU migrants, which will see the maximum period they can claim out-of-work benefits without having the serious prospect of a job cut from six to three months.

Mr Rowthorn’s report finds David Cameron’s goal to reduce net migration to “tens of thousands” by the next election impossible to reach if European Union migration continues at the present rate.

Potential economic benefits of immigration stem mainly from its impact on the national age structure, by helping to rejuvenate an ageing population and increasing the share of the population of working age, he said.

But he added: “If many of the immigrants fail to get jobs, or if they end up in low skill jobs or displace native workers, large-scale immigration will have a negative impact on GDP per capita and on government finances.”

Bill Carmichael: Page 13.