Comment from Australia by economist ROSS GITTINS below. Most of what he says applies to all developed countries. The focus on GDP per capita rather than on gross GDP is particularly pertinent. British studies have also shown that immigration is of no economic benefit to the average person already in the country

SO YOU think Australia has escaped a ”technical” recession? Actually, if you look at what’s happened to real gross domestic product per person, it has fallen in three of the past five quarters. Over the past 15 months it has contracted by 1.5 per cent. In other words, remarkably rapid growth in Australia’s population has been a little-acknowledged factor helping to hold up the economy.

We learnt last week that, during the year to March, our population grew by 2.1 per cent, its fastest in almost 40 years. Although our low birth rate is up a bit, almost two-thirds of that growth came from net immigration. This net inflow of almost 280,000 people is 20 per cent higher than the previous record year. And when Treasury plugged a much higher level of immigration into its projections for 2050, it foresaw a population of 35 million, 6.5 million more than it was expecting just three years ago.

So, is a rapidly growing population just what we need to give us a healthy economy? That’s what almost all business people, politicians and economists would tell you, but I wouldn’t be so sure of it.

If you believe immigration adds more to the demand for labour than it adds to the supply of labour, then the present rapid growth in immigration is helping to limit the rise in unemployment. That’s nice, but we should be wary of the almost universal tendency to focus on the overall growth in GDP rather than the growth in GDP per person. Why? Because it’s only when GDP’s growing faster than the population that our material standard of living is rising.

You have to ask yourself what’s so good about rapid population growth. From a narrow materialistic point of view, immigration-fed growth in the economy is good only if it raises the real average incomes of the pre-existing population. And it’s debatable whether it does. If it doesn’t, we’re running a high immigration policy mainly for the benefit of the immigrants, who are able to earn more in our country than they were in their own. Which is jolly decent of us.

Of course, if you were a business person you wouldn’t care whether high immigration led to a rise in income per person. All you’re after is a bigger market because you believe it will allow you to make bigger profits. So business and its politicians and economist handmaidens believe in growth for growth’s sake. But the other point that tends to be overlooked is that when you use immigration to force the pace of economic growth, it comes with a lot more costs attached than usual.

These costs tend to be underplayed and hidden from view, partly because they’re not acknowledged in our standard measure of growth, GDP. Indeed, some costs actually show up as additions to GDP. More growth – you beauty!

GDP ignores the cost of the environmental damage done by immigration. Apart from being morally dubious, poaching skilled workers from developing countries roughly doubles their greenhouse gas emissions, in the process making it all the harder for us to achieve the necessary reduction in our emissions.

But the extra carbon emissions are just one of the environmental costs. A total projected population increase of 13 million over the next 40 years does raise the question of whether we’ll exceed our ecosystem’s carrying capacity. Is the additional land use sustainable? Here’s a country that badly stuffed up its river and underground water systems, and as we speak is demonstrating a serious lack of political will to fix the problem, telling itself an extra 13 million people will be no problem.

And what about the cost of all the roads, hospitals, schools, police stations and other infrastructure we’ll need to build to accommodate a 65 per cent increase in the population? All that spending will add to growth as measured by GDP, but that doesn’t mean it won’t come at considerable cost to taxpayers.

The decision to ramp up immigration levels is made by the ”Feds”, but the responsibility for providing the extra infrastructure will be left to the less-than-competent state governments. Any failure on their part to cough up the money and rise to the challenge will generate real but unacknowledged costs to you and me.

SOURCE. Another current article hostile to Australia’s high rate of immigration can be found here. The author writes from a Greenie perspective.