Immigration has always been a hot topic in the industrial countries and the word has always carried a negative connotation. As a matter of fact, it has always been omitted how immigration was one of the main factors for the economic progress in the prosperous era post WWII.
As Europe was devastated after the World War II, it needed a growing workforce to implement the Marshall Plan to rebuild a dying continent. Colonial countries went shopping again in their colonies to bring people from whom it was only needed to work hard. Again after the “chair à canons” literally “flesh for artillery” brought from Africa and placed in the front lines of the colonial armies, during the WW I, WW II and colonial wars like the French Indochine war.
De facto, immigration was seen as a temporary strategy to provide workforce. It was never expected that the glorious era would last 30 years. Immigrant workers were eventually allowed to bring their families, who stayed in ghettos as well. That was the cradle of the integration issues of immigrants in Europe, what goes around comes around…
Other countries successfully dealt with their immigration. The best example is Canada which probably has the most multicultural population in the world. First, European communities immigrated (Italians, Greek, Irish, Brits, Polish…); they were eventually followed by Asians, south Asians, West Indies, East Europeans, Persians and people from all over the world. It is great to see this mosaic of cultures living together in harmony.
Now, the issue is back on the plate: the demographic changes in the industrial countries make it a necessity to recruit work force again. The baby boomers reached the retirement age, the population is ageing and the birth rates are very low.
A growing proportion of the population will retire, receive pensions and wouldn’t pay taxes while spending their savings. This means, less tax money, more government expenses on the elderly and less capital to finance investments… DISASTROUS
By 2025 the number of people aged 15 to 64 is projected to dwindle by 10.4% in Spain, 10.7% in Germany, 14.8% in Italy, and 15.7% in Japan*.
By 2040, 26 percent of the U.S. population will be at least 60 years old, up from 16.3 percent in 2000 […] At least 45 percent of the populations of Japan, Spain and Italy will be 60 or older by then. In each of those countries, there will be one retiree for every worker. **
How the high-income industrial countries will deal with issue!?
Through history, every time Europe faced economic stagnation and needed resources they faced south: sending their ships to conquer the new world; creating colonies, “collecting” their resources and enslaving autochthones in their own lands. Later, they brought the autochthones as cheap hard working workforce to reconstruct their economy and now they are seen as invaders. (Reminds me of “les envahisseurs” des inconnus… Bijour Monsieur Vincent)…
It is time the “developed world” drops its colonial attitude towards the south and creates win-win partnerships with their ex colonies. A good initiative is the EU- South Mediterranean countries partnership, even though it is going a bit slow and it has to go faster than that to make a difference…
The world is interdependent. The north can’t prosper when the south is living in misery… what goes around… comes around