Why Germany needs migrants more than UKRobert Peston Economics editor2 hours agoFrom the section Business 325 comments There is an economic and demographic backdrop to the differential policies towards asylum-seekers of Germany and the UK – to Germany’s relatively open door, that compares with the UK’s heavily fortified portal (which will be opened just a bit by David Cameron later today).The two relevant points (leaving aside moral ones) are that:- the UK’s population is rising fast, whereas Germany’s is falling fast;- the dependency ratio (the proportion of expensive older people in the population relative to able-bodied, tax-generating workers) is rising much quicker in Germany than in the UK.So to put it another way, it is arguably particularly useful to Germany to have an influx of young grateful families from Syria or elsewhere, who may well be keen to toil and strive to rebuild their lives and prove to their hosts that they are not a burden – in the way that successive immigrant waves have done all over the world (including Jews like my family in London’s East End).As you can see, what is striking is that the UK is set to become the EU’s most populous country, ahead of Germany and France, as a result of a relatively high fertility rate and greater projected rates of net migration.It would be hard to win another Battle of the Somme without a lot of cannon fodder. And we can never get enough millworkers.
Here is the thing. Wherever you stand in the debate on whether immigration is a good or bad thing – and most economists would argue that immigration promotes growth – right now immigration looks much more economically useful to Germany than to the UK.Which is perhaps one of the unspoken reasons why Germany is being much more welcoming to asylum seekers from Syria and elsewhere right now.That said, some business leaders and a couple of Tory ministers gave me what can only be described as an off-message critique of David Cameron’s approach to the migrant crisis over the weekend.They said that Angela Merkel is creaming off the most economically useful of the asylum seekers, by taking those that have shown the gumption and initiative to risk life and limb by fleeing to Europe.
You can tell by this Merkel-loving innocent child’s facial width to height ratio (who is beloved by photo editors at both the BBC and the NYT)
that he’s someday going to grow up to be some kind of genetic engineering prodigy who will gratefully write huge tax checks to the German government. He looks like some kind of Muslim Wayne Rooney, and you know how rich Wayne is.By the way, Edward Gibbon had some interesting things to say in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire about the very old idea that a government can get rich off taxes by helping a million migrants cross the River Danube.I know a lot of people today think it’s a sophisticated brand new idea, but, actually, the Emperor Valens was persuaded by his courtiers in the 376 A.D. that helping a million German barbarians, desperately fleeing the vicious Huns, cross the Danube into Roman territory was going to help restock the Roman treasury and revibrantize Roman demographics.You can find out how well this strategy worked out, personally, for Valens here.