FRIDAY, 5 OCTOBER 2012

The UK is a Crowded Kingdom

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Last month I mentioned the “pushback” against large scale immigration in the UK. Just to be clear, I wasn’t necessarily endorsing the views of those who are concerned about too many immigrants to the Mother Country.  Instead I was noting that there are serious political and social issues that come with relying on immigration to bolster a flagging or stagnant population. Even if they are ultimately wrong as to the threat posed, the fact that people in the home country feel threatened by immigration can be a large problem.  For one, assimilation will be presumably much more difficult when the native population is in part sullen and resentful. 

Along these lines, there are more reports in the UK papers of population growth that will do little to calm the fears of those like Sir Andrew Green.  According to the Office for National Statistics, the population of England and Wales grew by twice the European average over the last decade: at 7.3% over the ten years.  Excluding the Second World War, this growth rate was the highest over the past century and coincided with the relaxation of border controls with Eastern Europe.  In Europe, only Germany and France are now more populous than Britain (which has 63 million people), and both are much larger countries.  After last year’s census, the estimate of when Britain’s population will hit the 70 million mark has been revised downward from 2027 to 2021.  This news is not welcomed by Simon Ross, a member of Population Matters which campaigns for sustainable living. He greeted the news this way:

“‘This growth rate is one of the highest in Europe, for a country that is already one of its most densely populated.

‘It is hardly surprising that we face issues in housing, transport and employment. In the medium term, these numbers are unsustainable.

‘The Government must be supported in its efforts to limit net migration and should take steps to reduce the birth rate through improving sexual health and encouraging people to have smaller families.’”

In order to try and bring down net migration, the Home Office is cutting the number of visas offered to international students and is restricting the number who can stay after graduation.  Furthermore, only the most skilled foreign workers can take up jobs in Britain and must earn at least £18,600 if they wish to bring their spouses over as well.  As for Ross’ other suggestions, I’m not sure whether this counts as “improving sexual health” in Ross' eyes. My guess would be: no.  Quite frankly, if the UK is anything like NZ, most 12 year olds are taught about the birds and the bees. People aren’t having babies because they are ignorant; they are having babies because they are getting drunk and having sex.  No amount of condom teaching will help then.  As for encouraging smaller families, I think that the UK Government should buy the copyright to use some of the Chinese Government’s wonderful slogans:

“If sterilisation or abortion demands are rejected, houses will be toppled, cows confiscated”

Classic encouragement.



 
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Welcome to Demography Is Destiny. We launched this to counter two media memes: that humans are a cancer which is destroying our planet and that world population is spiralling to unsustainable levels. The real story is that intelligent and inventive human will rise to the challenge of climate change and that our real problem is the coming demographic winter. The editors of Demography is Destiny are Marcus and Shannon Roberts, who live in Auckland, New Zealand. Send them your comments and suggestions. 


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