“Immigration may affect the income of the native population in many ways. There may be market effects, an impact on relative factor prices and on employment opportunities for natives. Those native groups which are substitutes for the immigrant labour force may lose out from immigration, while those native groups which are complementary may benefit. However, studies from many countries show that these effects have probably been small.”:
Harvard professor George Borjas estimated the effect for the United States in the mid-1990s: “The standard economic model of the labor market suggests that the net gain from immigration is small. The net gain, which I call the immigration surplus, is only about $7 billion”.
“När det gäller offentlig konsumtion har vi inga faktiska uppgifter för invandrarbefolkningen. Istället får deras användning av åldersberoende offentliga konsumtionen i huvudsak beräknas med ledning av deras ålderssammansättning”
Other sources indicate that immigrants in fact use more public sector services, perhaps because immigrants are poorer. Since data exists on the distribution of public services (e.g. FASIT), it is a mystery to me that no economists have estimated the fiscal impact of immigration in a more complete way.
In any case, if one million (mixed skilled/unskilled) immigrants cost Sweden 50 billion kronor annually, how much will 30 million additional unskilled immigrants cost? The Center-Party is proposing open borders without having evaluated this, which is not exactly adult policy making.
Ankersjö comments on that not wanting immigrants: “It’s stupid from an economics perspective. It is based on an argument that those who come here are a cost. If you allow them to work, they are rather an asset.”
Once more we see the silly theory that as long as someone works, they host country economy gains, regardless of the wage rate.
The purpose of the welfare state is not merely to transfer wealth from those who work to those who don’t. It is also to transfer wealth from high-income workers to low-income workers. Low-income workers pay far less in taxes than average but receive as much or more in government benefits. Therefore increasing the proportion of low-income workers risks leading to losses for the Swedish public sector, even if they work.
It is true that immigrants tend to have a more favorable age profile, and cost less in terms of schooling than natives. (though immigrants too eventually age and receive pensions, and tend to need some years of school and language training as well). However these gains is not infinitely large, and are not sufficient to compensate the tendency of low income earners to pay less in taxes than they get back in benefits.
In 2003, a detailed study of the lifetime static redistribution effects of the welfare state was conducted by the Swedish state. It found that more than 60% of the Swedish population – those in the lowest 3 income quintiles – on average got more out of the welfare state than they paid in. This despite the fact that most people in the lower 2/3 of the income distribution work (obviously).
“En individ ur den högsta livsinkomstkvintilen gör över livet i genomsnitt en nettoförlust på ca 3,3 mkr mot den offentliga sektorn och en individ ur den lägsta kvintilen I genomsnitt en nettovinst på ca 2,5 mkr.”
There are already more than one million working age adults in Sweden who lack jobs, including several hundred thousand immigrants. Indeed the majority of non-European immigrants without college degrees are currently not employed. If creating jobs is so easy and if there is a huge demand for jobs only immigrants do, why isn’t the Center-Party prioritizing providing currently unemployed immigrants with jobs before taking in the next 30 million?
According to Aftonbladet Ankarsjö “stresses that the new, generous immigration policies must be combined with a new labor policy. Crucial elements are proposals on flexible labor market rules regulating firing and lower wages for those who are new to the labor market.”
The theory is that current (and future) problems are fixed if Sweden abolishes its labor protection laws. Let’s evaluate this hypothesis. The OECD has data which allows for the employment as the share of the 15-65 population for immigrants and natives to be calculated. As a comparison the employment rate of native born Swedes without college degrees is 71%. Here are some employment rates for non-European immigrants without college degrees:
New Zeeland: 44%
Other than Sweden, these are countries lacking LAS and strict labor protection laws. As you can see they have not been able to provide high employment to low and medium skilled non-European immigrants either. This is pretty conclusive evidence that abolishing LAS (while helping at the margin) will not fix the employment problem for unskilled immigrants.
How about going further, such as crushing the unions, dramatically cutting welfare services and creating a low-wage sector in Sweden? Will that fix the labor market problem of unskilled immigrants?
No, it will not. Sure, you can probably raise employment by doing this. But employment in low-paying jobs does not solve the fundamental problem, which is low productivity and low earnings. Having a low-wage proletariat is simply another (somewhat less costly) manifestation of the the underlying problem of low productivity. As a rule, countries do not become richer by having more poor people.
Any honest economists will tell you that the Swedish welfare system will collapse under the weight of 30 million unskilled immigrants. Of course deep down a lot of Center-Party ideologues know this. The reason they are pushing for open borders is that for them, open borders is a moral compulsion. They do not believe that Swedish citizens have the right not to share their wealth with others.
The Center-Party states that migrating to Sweden and even asking to be economically supported by Sweden is a “fundamental human right”. They state “Vi ser det som en grundläggande mänsklig rättighet att söka sig en fristad och en försörjning…utanför landets gränser”. Per Ankersjö states that open borders “is a natural consequence for those who believe in equal rights and equal value of humanity”.
The indisutable rule in every civilized society is that everyone has equal human value (“människovärde”), or human dignity (the exact translation of ”alla människors lika värde” is tricky, for the benefit of foreign readers I have now substituted ”dignity” for ”value” below).
But what does this mean, exactly? We have not interpreted this as everyone having an equal right to – for instance- each others private property. Even the left agrees that a poor Swede cannot force a rich Swede to share their home, despite equal human dignity and equal human rights.
Classical liberals and libertarians interpret equal right as negative rights. When we say that all humans have a right to live without oppression, that means you cannot oppress others. It does not mean you have an obligation to invade Syria, North Korea and all other dictatorships and free them from oppression. Such an obligation would violate your own right to freedom and property.
When the Center-Party writes that is a fundamental human right to seek “försörjning” in Sweden, they are saying that Sweden has an obligation to support every poor person in the world who requests it. This is not supported by classical liberalism, since imposing this obligation on Sweden violates the rights of Sweden to freedom, property and sovereignty.
All humans have the right to the pursuit of happiness and to live free from hunger and poverty. However this does not mean Swedes are obliged to give 90% of their GDP in foreign aid to Africa, despite the fact that this would reduce poverty.
We believe all humans have equal human dignity, but we only give 1% of GDP in foreign aid. All humans have equal human dignity, but you are not obligated to buy toys for your neighbors children. All humans have equal human dignity, yet Sweden only provides free healthcare for its own population, not the entire planet.
This is because equal human worth is not interpreted (by non-communists) as the right to take what others have produced in the form of private or collective property. Equal human rights are negative rights against opression and coersion, not a positive obligations on others to fix your problem. Thus everyone has equal human rights, but that hardly means everyone has the right to come live in the country created by and owned by Swedes and be supported by them.