The economics of immigration: a double edged-sword


by Rumbold
26th August, 2008 at 9:51 pm    

The think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has just released a report saying that the state is underestimating the economic benefits of migration to this country:

“The report shows that migrants play a key role in changing the local ‘skills mix’ by filling skills gaps, and doing jobs that UK workers don’t want to do. IPPR argues that local government and employers need to ensure that the benefits produced by employing migrant workers are accompanied by local strategies to ensure that indigenous workers’ wages and job opportunities aren’t damaged; and to ensure local businesses don’t become overly reliant on migrant workers.

IPPR says that employers benefit from diversity because diverse workforces tend to be more productive and creative, which boosts business performance.”

This new report is at odds with the recent House of Lords report on immigration, which argued that net immigration has little impact on GDP per head in this country. Other bodies have suggested that high levels of net immigration has a negative effect on the economy.

I have yet to read the IPPR report in full, but the press release suggests a sensible analysis (although the line about diversity boosting productivity and creativity doesn’t make any sense, as why would it have any effect?). Let us assume for the moment that immigration boosts this country’s GDP per head. This should gladden the hearts of supporters of the current levels of immigration like me, but it doesn’t.

This is because it is dangerous for supporters of large-scale immigration to reduce immigration to a question of costs and benefits. A group like the BNP may well welcome this report. They may say that such levels of immigration do indeed benefit Britain’s GDP per head, and go even further by saying that we should examine immigrants from each country individually, in order to get an idea of which nationalities make a net contribution to GDP per head and which ones make a net loss.

Suddenly things aren’t looking so good for Somalians, or Kurds, or Pakistanis. Buoyed by increasingly-detailed economic reports into each nationality, the BNP and their supporters begin to push for a freeze on immigration from certain countries, because “they don’t benefit Britain.” There are increased calls to encourage ‘economically-negative’ nationalities to return home, and people from certain nations face abuse in the streets because they are held to be a drain on resources. Do we really want this sort of system?

Economic data on immigrants is useful, mainly to determine in which areas there are high levels of immigration, which ensures that money can be provided quickly to shore up public services that might be oversubscribed. But beware the rigid straitjacket of economic categorization and stereotypes.


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  1. Tumbleweed Blows By — on 26th August, 2008 at 11:11 pm  

    Don’t fall over yourself, Sunny, to defend free speech. What’s the difference between Ken Bell and Harry’s Place?

    One a fascist prick and the other’s the last, best hope… no, it’s a bit silly a times, but at least it’s not run by fascist pricks.

    http://jennadelich.blogspot.com/

  2. MaidMarian — on 27th August, 2008 at 8:50 am  

    ‘Suddenly things aren’t looking so good for Somalians, or Kurds, or Pakistanis.’

    Why? The conclusion to the article is surely correct, but the above rather jars.

    A great many of those who come to the UK from abroad are hard working, skilled, have a firm plan of action, know their rights and obligations, pay tax appropriately and (most important of all) speak excellent English. Such people are outstanding ‘candidates’ (for want of a better word) for a successful immigration. Where they come from is beside the point surely? Whether the BNP can use that as a weapon is distinct from the economics of it I would suggest.

    The stark reality is that there are then some who come who, put simply, have no business ever even thinking about coming to the UK. Such people are egregiously underprepared. It is about the equivalent of dumping me on the streets of a foreign country right this second – I would get eaten alive out there.

    Successful immigration is all about the right conditions and it strikes me that the condition that matters most is honesty. Some immigrants come here in the serious belief that the streets are paved with gold, that jobs paying good money are plentiful and easy to come by, that there is no exploitation and that English language is not a barrier. These people are, candidly, deluding themselves and there should be no shame in saying so.

    Immigrants have a great deal to contribute to UK plc however, as ever it is important to recognise that ‘immigrant’ is very far from being a homogeneous category. Equally, ‘Somali,’ ‘Kurd,’ and ‘Pakistani,’ are not homogeneous categories.

    What it is so important is to remember is that ‘immigrant’ is such a wide category. It covers everything from the totally appropriate to those who have no business in the UK (or other countries). We have to acknowledge that people come here for a vast number of reasons and probably too many of those are kidding themselves. Indeed, it is quite possible to argue that not enough of the ‘right’ immigrants are coming.

    It is for this reason, I think that the BNP would not make the argument suggested in the article as it would draw attention to the flip-side that more of certain immigrants are needed. Possibly I give the BNP too much credit.

    ‘Immigrant workers’ cover everything from exploited fruit-pickers to high-tech, skilled men and women employed legally and paid well on good contracts – there needs to be a distinction drawn in debates otherwise one runs the risk of whipping up hate.

    To my mind, immigration policy perhaps more than any other area of public policy runs the risk of having to legislate for motives – always a bad thing. Economic migration, refugee, family reunion migration, tourism migration etc. People are individuals with individual motives which may well change in good or bad faith. How to weigh economics against the benefits (and indeed rights) of, say, marriage or refuge? It is a balance I would not want to strike.

    I agree with the sentiments of, ‘But beware the rigid straitjacket of economic categorization and stereotypes.’ However I suggest removing the word, ‘economic.’ Immigration is in many, many ways a good thing, but I would be rather less prissy than we have been to date about being open with individuals highly likely to struggle on immigration. That certainly applies to economic migrants, but I think it needs to be applied to other ‘categories’ as well.

    And in saying that I recognise that sensitive racial bulls may have to be grasped by the horns.

  3. Boyo — on 27th August, 2008 at 9:28 am  

    It’s not all about money you know, although Labour’s post-Marxist materialists fail to appreciate that. After Thatcher they seemed to decide that moeny was all that mattered so un-managed mass immigration needed to be driven at all costs – providing a pool of cheap expolitable labour to float our economic boat. It also had the double benefit of extending their leftist “largesse” to the developing world.

    As a consequence of this, along with other fragmentary policies from devolution to postal-voting, the British people increasingly appear to be wondering who they are, other than units of production. Labour forgot that although money matters, any country is first of all a community with an almost undefinable spiritual sense of itself – anathema to an ideology underpinned by an a-historical atheism, despite the much-vaunted Christianity of its leaders.

    This is one of the reasons why they will lose the next election and will not be easily forgiven.

  4. MaidMarian — on 27th August, 2008 at 9:57 am  

    Boyo (3) – So what are you saying there?

    That all immigration is an intrinsic bad and that anyone who can be described as ‘immigrant’ can never integrate and is always and everywhere malign? Do you not hold out the remotest possibility that immigrants are not the caricatures of the Mail’s fetid imagination?

    ‘British people increasingly appear to be wondering who they are, other than units of production.’ I know exactly who I am. All you need to do is drop the self-indulgent psychobabble about, ‘undefinable spiritual sense[s].’ It sounds to me rather as if you need to take your insecurities up with the voters rather than any leaders.

  5. Letters From A Tory — on 27th August, 2008 at 10:07 am  

    The House of Lords report was a very balanced assessment of immigration, whereas the IPPR is obviously subject to political bias.

    http://lettersfromatory.wordpress.com

  6. cjcjc — on 27th August, 2008 at 10:20 am  

    Suddenly things aren’t looking so good for Somalians, or Kurds, or Pakistanis. Buoyed by increasingly-detailed economic reports into each nationality, the BNP and their supporters begin to push for a freeze on immigration from certain countries, because “they don’t benefit Britain.” There are increased calls to encourage ‘economically-negative’ nationalities to return home, and people from certain nations face abuse in the streets because they are held to be a drain on resources. Do we really want this sort of system?

    But we are getting “this sort of system” with the points based system, aren’t we?
    (Hope so!)

    supporters of the current levels of immigration

    Is there no limit to UK population – already Europe’s densest – in your view?
    London’s infrastructure cannot cope – have you been on the tube recently?

  7. Boyo — on 27th August, 2008 at 10:32 am  

    MM – so when did “unmanaged mass immigration” come to mean “all immigration is an intrinsic bad and that anyone who can be described as ‘immigrant’ can never integrate and is always and everywhere malign”.

    God I hate these kind hackneyed attempts to close down the argument. You and Jenna Delich both.

  8. MaidMarian — on 27th August, 2008 at 10:47 am  

    Boyo (7) – Do you think that my comment at (2) is from someone trying to close down debate? If you want a debate, you tell me why immigrants are per se, ‘fragmentary,’ in your view.

    ‘so when did “unmanaged mass immigration” come to mean …’ The moment that the Daily Mail and the rest of Fleet Street managed to convince the world it meant that is the exact moment.

    God I hate these kind of hackneyed attempts to build straw men and accuse others of ‘closing down debate’ (whatever that means). You and Melanie Phillips both.

  9. Boyo — on 27th August, 2008 at 11:15 am  

    MM – there you go again, it is quite invidious:

    “tell me why immigrants are per se, ‘fragmentary,’ in your view.”

    That is not what I am saying, it is what YOU are saying. Do YOU have a problem with immigrants? It rather sounds as if you might.

    Wiki defines “culture” as meaning:

    all the ways of life including arts, beliefs and institutions of a population that are passed down from generation to generation. Culture has been called “the way of life for an entire society.”[3] As such, it includes codes of manners, dress, language, religion, rituals, norms of behavior such as law and morality, and systems of belief as well as the art.

    Unmanaged mass immigration, as I was saying, will inevitably help fragment – ie break down into constituent parts – a community. Transport the population of France to Scotland and see what happens.

  10. MaidMarian — on 27th August, 2008 at 11:26 am  

    Boyo (9) – Well, congratulations on being the first to use the r-word on here.

    Without wanting to prolong this, I shall let you have the final word….

    ‘Do YOU have a problem with immigrants? It rather sounds as if you might.’ One would hope not given I am married to one. Indeed, I am just curious as to how my marriage is per se, ‘fragmentary,’ and how my marriage offends your spiritual senses.

    I am pretty sure that the elderly neighbours my wife helps out in her spare time don’t see her as breaking the community down to its constituent parts. But then maybe their spirituality is not as easily offended as yours is.

    ‘Transport the population of France to Scotland and see what happens.’ Would that be another straw man per chance?

    What a self-involved, judgmental person you are!

  11. Boyo — on 27th August, 2008 at 11:31 am  

    Pot kettle black?

  12. halima — on 27th August, 2008 at 1:05 pm  

    Rumbold

    There’s a time honoured tradition in the UK, US and Australia that’s been arguing that diversity and creativity boosts productivity – and indeed in the age of globalisation, this might be the one thing that puts the UK at a comparative advantage. Demos, IPPR and several other bodies have been putting this argument forward for 15 years now. In fact this is what i guess we mean when we talk about British eccentricity – that we’re open to creativity and innovation – and diversity adds to this. It’s modern Britain – the one that young people know. The only version of Britain that exists anymore.

    The IPPR report is to be welcomed, far better we have our analysis from an independent source than government. Government policy should be informed by independent evidence.

    “People are individuals with individual motives which may well change in good or bad faith. How to weigh economics against the benefits (and indeed rights) of, say, marriage or refuge? It is a balance I would not want to strike.”

    Surely that could apply to any area of public policy – weighing the ecomomic costs, weighting the social and the economic rights of returns – and yes, individual motives are also a factor but we don’t use this as an argument to not look at the economics of other areas in public policy.

    Yours views tend to boil down to your politics which tend not to be open to immigration – there’s a predicable line in all your arguments, but rather than debate the finer points, it’s best to accept that you have a conservative view on immigration and therefore would question anything progressive on it.

    There’s nothing wrong with that.

  13. halima — on 27th August, 2008 at 1:21 pm  

    Other sources on immigration you mention which show net negative impact … is Migration Watch – a body dedicated to curbing migration. Nothing wrong with groups doing this, but best to acknowledge the politics and the institutional bias of these sources. They are independent but they advice people to:

    Write to your Member of Parliament (MP)
    It would be helpful if you could underline your concern about immigration and your disappointment that the government appear to have a “no limits” policy on immigration while the opposition appear to be silent on the subject.

    And yes, IPPR is affiliated to the centre to centre left. They like me, are open to immigration and wanting to see Britain develop its full potential from a rich diverse source of talent in the world – and protect and nurture what we already have in the UK.

  14. MaidMarian — on 27th August, 2008 at 2:04 pm  

    Halima (12) – I am the person who you quote and respond to in the last 4 paragraphs of your comment.

    ‘Surely that could apply to any area of public policy – weighing the ecomomic costs, weighting the social and the economic rights of returns – and yes, individual motives are also a factor but we don’t use this as an argument to not look at the economics of other areas in public policy.’

    I think you misunderstand me – I absolutely think that it is legitimate to look at the economics they are very important.

    The difference is that with immigration policy one also has to balance in things like rights to marry as one sees fit, rights to asylum and so on. To be clear, these are not balances I would like to be striking! I do not claim that these balances are unique to immigration policy (I agree strongly with you there), just that the choices are more stark.

    I feel, as I stated at (2) that there are many immigrants who, for a variety of reasons are not suitable candidates for immigration. The economic cost of this is very much a valid concern, as are other considerations. That however has to be weighed against (for example) my right to marry as I see fit.

    My view on immigration is that when it works, everyone benefits, but failed immigrations come at a huge cost – social, personal and economic. I don’t think that is especially conservative, especially as I suspect that there is probably a need for more immigrants of various ‘categories.’

    This is why I think it is not precise enough to say, ‘politics which tend not to be open to immigration.’ ‘Immigrant’ and ‘Immigration’ are words that cover a lot of ground. Far too much to generalise about. There is a world of difference between someone with no English language skills, minimal qualifications, no money and no network of UK contacts and someone with excellent English, a firm plan of action, contacts and credentials. And the economics of the two situations are not that difficult to forecast.

    My view is that both sides of the immigration debate have worked in caricatures. We need terms of debate that start from the premise that one immigrant is not the same as the next.

  15. halima — on 27th August, 2008 at 2:33 pm  

    MM … sorry..I read the original post and scanned down too quickly to take into account the different postings…

    “My view is that both sides of the immigration debate have worked in caricatures. We need terms of debate that start from the premise that one immigrant is not the same as the next.”

    Is that precisely why statistics and rates of returns on economic benefit help? To help get us out of political camps? Sure, economics aren’t the only consideration, but the debate as far I can see has been caricatured too much in favour of the view – that immigrants costs too much, they’re such a burden, they bring crime blah blah… I have seen little that says otherwise… and when I do see it, it’s great – they do the same in Canada, another country that’s made more out of the positive contributions of immigration.

    And yes the economics of highly skilled professionals and low skilled manual workers are different – but both contribute to building an economy – can’t do one without the other, so we can still do an economic analysis of the two.

    Where economics doesn’t sum it all is when we look at the social costs – whether we want to continue to take in vulnerable individuals from war torn nations and so on, or for humanitarian reasons. The the debate isn’t about immigraton as I see it. It’s about our ability to respond to the world’s challenges. It’s a choice we as a country need to ask ourselves . I’d be happy to support and maintain a humanitarian tradition in the UK, others may not. This boils down to our respective politics.

  16. 5cc — on 27th August, 2008 at 2:37 pm  

    cjcj:

    “Is there no limit to UK population – already Europe’s densest – in your view?”

    No it isn’t. According to the Daily Mail, England, not Britain is third – although the paper lied in the headline ‘It’s official: England is the most crowded country in Europe‘ before including a table showing England at number 3 as of 2005.

    The Commons Written Answer that the Mail based its scaremongering on shows the UK to be number 4 as of 2005.

    If you go to the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs website, and do all the maths, you’ll see that the UK was in at the 4th most densely populated European country in the 50s.

    The way the Mail got around this is by saying that if the English (not UK, natch) population had been rising at the same rate as it did in the lead up to 2005, it would be the most densely populated by now – without calculating for how much all the other countries might have risen by. In fact, the paper claims the Netherlands’ population density had been growing at a slower rate than the UK’s when in fact it had been growing at a faster rate.

    I blogged about it ages ago at Let’s start 2008 with a good immigration scare story

  17. MaidMarian — on 27th August, 2008 at 2:44 pm  

    Halima (15) – I disagree with very little of what you say.

    Where I think I slightly diverge is where you say, ‘The the debate isn’t about immigraton as I see it. It’s about our ability to respond to the world’s challenges.’ That is probably true as far as it goes, but that ought to go a stage further. The one thing that no one seems to ask in the immigration debate is why do people come to the UK?

    The knee-jerk assumption is money and I don’t doubt for a moment that in many cases that is true. But if economic costs of immigration to the UK are only part of the story then I would suggests that economic benefits to immigrants are also only part of the story.

    Take my wife. She first came to study in the UK and work as a live-in carer. She did this effectively for nothing, the benefit was in education. Then she stayed for a bit longer to work explicitly for money on a temporary basis. Then she met me and (I hope) stayed for me.

    The point I am getting at is that there is a complex dynamic where people come (and indeed go) for a range of reasons which are unlikely to be consistant.

    Economics is one factor, but a better understanding of motivations is to my mind necessary for a real immigration debate.

  18. Cabalamat — on 27th August, 2008 at 2:58 pm  

    This is because it is dangerous for supporters of large-scale immigration to reduce immigration to a question of costs and benefits.

    Well it depends why you’re in favour of immigration. If you’re in favour of it as an end in itself, then by definition it’s a good thing.

    But if you want Britain to be a prosperous country and a nice place to live, hen clearly some immigrants are going to be better than others.

    A group like the BNP may well welcome this report.

    I would imagine the BNP being against all immigration, or at least all immigration of non-whites.

    They may say that such levels of immigration do indeed benefit Britain’s GDP per head, and go even further by saying that we should examine immigrants from each country individually, in order to get an idea of which nationalities make a net contribution to GDP per head and which ones make a net loss.

    It clearly isn’t going to be the case that all immigrants from country A are a net gain whereas all from country B are a net loss. So that would be silly.

    OTOH, some immigrants are clearly going to be more desirable than others, so for example someone who speaks good English, is university educated, doesn’t have a serious criminal record, and has skills that are in short supply in Britain, is likely to be more of a benefit to our economy than someone who doesn’t have those attributes.

  19. halima — on 27th August, 2008 at 4:51 pm  

    MM, I’d agree..

    “Economics is one factor, but a better understanding of motivations is to my mind necessary for a real immigration debate.”

    And sure – the world isn’t explained by just economics, and this would apply to immigration.

    I find that with immigration, like tax, people can go down lines because of their politics, I am not saying this about you, and usually it’s better for all, if we know what we are arguing against.

    I often read analysis from the World Bank on some phenomena in the real world. They’re usually done by some of the best minds in the world I am told. But the researcher in me tends to question the basis, assumptions and the methods to arrive at these conclusions. When I read and accept World Bank analysis, I take it on the understanding that it’s an institutional perspective – and the perspective of a large NGO on the same matter, would be very different. One might be more rigorous than the other in terms of methods, but their motives for engaging in the debate on free public services, for example, would be different.

  20. ashik — on 27th August, 2008 at 5:09 pm  

    Who do we categorise as an ‘immigrant’?

    The points-based-system more starkly marks out EU and non-EU entrants. Is a Frenchman exercising his/her right of ‘Free movement’ within the EU by living in London, an ‘immigrant’ for the purposes of these reports?

    I ask this question as increasing Intra-European movements are increasingly more the norm. Especially migration from the new Eastern European accession states (although there is a bar on Bulgaria and Romania at the moment).

  21. cjcjc — on 27th August, 2008 at 6:54 pm  

    Don’t get me wrong, I own a house in central London;
    I don’t have to drive or use the tube very much;
    my maintenance costs haven’t risen in 10 years; I am able to avoid the NHS; I do not have children in state education (I don’t have children at all).
    Economically nothing suits *me* better.
    I am an archetypal (relatively) well-off winner from immigration.

    The less well-off “natives” – including earlier generations of immigrants of course – are likely to take a different view.

  22. Rumbold — on 27th August, 2008 at 8:37 pm  

    MaidMarian and Halima:

    I too regard people as individuals. The point in my article was to show that the BNP and others could use this sort of economic research to demonise certain ethnic/religious groups by saying that they are not pulling their weight. The BNP are intelligent enough to know what buttons to press, and this would be a rather large button.

    Cjcjc:

    “But we are getting “this sort of system” with the points based system, aren’t we?(Hope so!).”

    Sadly yes. Most people thought that the command and control economy had gone out the window after the fall of the Berlin wall, but here we are again, dictating exactly the sort of workers we need in our perfect little socialist system. I wonder how many South Asians who have worked hard and paid their taxes for decades would have got in under this new system, as ‘newsagent’ might not have been classed as an essential skill. But the state knows best, and can easy predict what the economy needs at any point.

    “Is there no limit to UK population – already Europe’s densest – in your view?
    London’s infrastructure cannot cope – have you been on the tube recently?”

    There is overcrowding in some areas, but surely the solution is to encourage more internal migration to areas with stagnant declining populations (such as Scotland). Government could make it easier (for example) to get council houses in those areas, thus increasing the incentive to move there.

  23. Rumbold — on 27th August, 2008 at 8:44 pm  

    Halima:

    “There’s a time honoured tradition in the UK, US and Australia that’s been arguing that diversity and creativity boosts productivity – and indeed in the age of globalisation, this might be the one thing that puts the UK at a comparative advantage. Demos, IPPR and several other bodies have been putting this argument forward for 15 years now. In fact this is what i guess we mean when we talk about British eccentricity – that we’re open to creativity and innovation – and diversity adds to this. It’s modern Britain – the one that young people know. The only version of Britain that exists anymore.”

    Creativity can boost productivity, but that is completly different from diversity. As far as I am aware, there is no evidence that having a more racially/religiously diverse workforce benefits productivity. Why would it?

    “The IPPR report is to be welcomed, far better we have our analysis from an independent source than government. Government policy should be informed by independent evidence.”

    Well, the IPPR is as independent as Migrationwatch, but they have different agendas. And the House of Lords is not the government.

    Cabalamat:

    “Well it depends why you’re in favour of immigration. If you’re in favour of it as an end in itself, then by definition it’s a good thing.

    But if you want Britain to be a prosperous country and a nice place to live, hen clearly some immigrants are going to be better than others.”

    So what do you do? Some of the poorest communities can produce the most successful business people or other figures.

    “I would imagine the BNP being against all immigration, or at least all immigration of non-whites.”

    They are clever, because they now practice a divide and conquer strategy (at least on a national level), by targeting Muslims, which wins them the sympathy of some non-whites who don’t like Muslims either. Then when they have picked off the Muslims, they will be back for the rest of them.

  24. Sunny — on 27th August, 2008 at 10:08 pm  

    London’s infrastructure cannot cope – have you been on the tube recently?

    You should tell those tourists to go back to where they came from/

  25. halima — on 28th August, 2008 at 1:49 am  

    “Well, the IPPR is as independent as Migrationwatch”

    Well, IPPR’s sole existance isn’t a single issue concern like migration.

    Diversity being good for business? I’d recommend visiting the pages of the GLA for a start. Yes, it’s a government source but they will have references on the back pages on the evidence that you seek…

  26. MaidMarian — on 28th August, 2008 at 8:33 am  

    Rumbold (22) – ‘The point in my article was to show that the BNP and others could use this sort of economic research to demonise certain ethnic/religious groups by saying that they are not pulling their weight.’

    Point taken. I suspect that most people out there are quite capable of recognising that ‘immigrant’ is a word that covers an awful lot of territory and, indeed is not no going to be consistent from one person to the next. That said, I have a feeling that BNP political campaigns don’t do nuance.

    ashik (20) – Interestingly, I believe (though I am happy to be corrected) that the Spanish do not regard the British ex-pats out there as ‘immigrants’ for official purposes. The points system is a massive red-herring in this debate though.

  27. Rumbold — on 28th August, 2008 at 10:12 am  

    Halima:

    I couldn’t see anything about diversity boosting productivity, and I just can’t comprehend why this would be the case. Why, for example, would a firm with one black and one white employee be more productive, on average, then a firm with two brown employees?

    MaidMarian:

    “That said, I have a feeling that BNP political campaigns don’t do nuance.”

    Exactly. They appeal to the lowest common denominator: foreigners, strange colours, strange customs, committing crimes and taking our benefits.

  28. 5cc — on 28th August, 2008 at 10:42 am  

    Rumbold:

    Comment 22:
    “The point in my article was to show that the BNP and others could use this sort of economic research to demonise certain ethnic/religious groups by saying that they are not pulling their weight.”

    Already been done – but not by the BNP – by Dennis Sewell in the Mail and Spectator:

    “If the Government is serious about optimising the planning of public services, it needs to disaggregate the immigrant population and find out which groups are profit centres and which are cost centres.”

    [...]

    “The best research so far available (prepared by the IPPR last year for Channel 4′s Dispatches) makes for uneasy reading. “

    Via The Enemies of Reason

    Comment 23:
    “They are clever, because they now practice a divide and conquer strategy (at least on a national level), by targeting Muslims, which wins them the sympathy of some non-whites who don’t like Muslims either. Then when they have picked off the Muslims, they will be back for the rest of them.”

    They’ve already shifted their target in London. Take a look at Barnbrook’s blog in the Telegraph. Very few attacks directed at Muslims, because he’s spending most of the time targeting black people instead – probably because tabloid hysteria about Islam has slightly softened recently, to be replaced by hysteria about knife crime.

    So, you’re exactly right, sadly.

  29. Rumbold — on 28th August, 2008 at 10:54 am  

    5cc:

    I read that Dennis Sewell article yeasterday and felt something similar to what you did. At first the artilce seemed quite promising, then it descended into “which groups are pulling their weight”, and the implication that we shouldn’t be complaining about Eastern Europeans but groups from Africa and Asia.

    “Take a look at Barnbrook’s blog in the Telegraph. Very few attacks directed at Muslims, because he’s spending most of the time targeting black people instead – probably because tabloid hysteria about Islam has slightly softened recently, to be replaced by hysteria about knife crime.”

    I suspect though that Islam will be back on his agenda soon enough, and we will hear about it.

  30. halima — on 28th August, 2008 at 4:14 pm  

    Rumbold

    The argument is that talent is global …the search for talent should be global, that we recruit from the best skills out there. That’s why lots of people argue these days there’s a talent war now on – and those that recruit from diverse talent tend to do better in their orgs. If you want to read work done by McKinsey recently – that might show why. It’s not just public sector bodies that support this line of thinking. For more information, i might sign post you to GLA site on why diversity is good for business. I recall Robert Putnam coming to similar conclusions – though he says diversity is good for social capital which in turn, leads to lots of positive outcomes, in health, in productivity, in education etc.

    It’s not about looking at a situation and thinking here’s a white person and here’s a black person. Thta’s a very limited view of diversity. It’s about recognising that white and black people and other folks, come from different traditions and cultures across the globe, and bring different skills. All of which enhance an organisation’s ability to perform – there’s not one way to do business. it’s like that HSBC ad about recognising local context.

    In other spheres we accept diversity increases productivity – say bio-diversity, or bio fuels etc. I think the assumption is that the same applies to people.

    without accepting this diversity in orgs, across societies, we’re unable to innovate, move on, try new things. It’s about unlocking entrpreneurship, cutting edge research.

    Do visit some of these sites i mention, you tend to write and post on issues relating to diversity a lot on PP, it would be good to be more familiar with the topic. And on matters on India.

  31. Rumbold — on 28th August, 2008 at 5:17 pm  

    Halima:

    If by diversity you mean a wider pool of talent to draw from, then companies, on balance, will benefit from that. I thought you meant purely ethnic diversity within one country.

    Again, for companies, employees with local knowledge are useful, but I wouldn’t necessarily count that as ‘diversity’, merely because they live somewhere else. What isn’t diversity then?

  32. halima — on 28th August, 2008 at 5:37 pm  

    R

    On your second point.. embracing local knowledge and then applying its success in a different context, would be the diversity i had in mind.

    Kinda like organisational development taking a leaf out of japanese firms in the 1980s, and applying this to management firms in Europe etc. It’s the application and (technological) leap frogging that’s possible from diversity which moves the world, and productivity along.

    I think most people tend to see diversity in quite quite narrow terms, perhaps it doesn’t help that it’s mostly public orgs that promote diversity ( which they should) but business collaboration might produce the arguments we need to see to make positive arguments on productivity and competitiveness.

    I am a firm believer that no one listens to rights based arguments these days, principles for why we might do one thing and not the other. But bringing in economic/business argments helps – as our decision-makers listen to it.

  33. Rumbold — on 28th August, 2008 at 8:37 pm  

    Halima:

    Given that every time diversity is mentioned in this country it is racial/religious diversity, one automatically assumes that diversity means just that.

  34. Trofim — on 30th August, 2008 at 10:55 am  

    I just looked at the IPPR website. It says:

    we want to build a fairer, more democratic and environmentally sustainable world.

    Environmentally sustainable, eh? Let’s see. During the WWII when we were unable to import food, we just managed to scrape by growing our own. The population was then around 47 million. Now, with 14 million more, we manage by importing 40% of our food and what we grow here is done mostly with the help of intensive fertilizers manufactured as a by product of oil. Our imported food comes to our shores in ships and planes powered by oil. Now this woman blithely suggests adding another 16 million, who will need feeding, watering and housing. So we need to import food for another 16 million at a time when world prices are steadily rising and will continue to do so as the population of the world inexorably, and unnecessarily increases. Would this be food imported by oil-powered ships? Not coal or nuclear powered, because they are just as bad. It’s got to be wind-powered – sailing – ships, or galleys powered by human muscle.
    Or perhaps we could grow food for another 16 million on our own land. Hang on, we need to build another 16 Birminghams, and enough reservoirs, and provide enough landfill sites for the rubbish of 16 million humans. That means we’re going to grow the extra food we need on an area substantially smaller than what we have now, provide enough water, dispose of the rubbish and sewage of 16 million extra people. This is what happens when ideas come from people who live in remote airy-fairy ivory towers, for whom political dogma trumps reality. Here in Worcestershire and elsewhere, fruit is rotting in the fields and orchards because east Europeans are going home and most Brits wouldn’t want to get their hands dirty. Why don’t the employees of IPPR put their paperwork aside, do something useful and get a dose of reality into the bargain.
    No, I’m just being cynical. I know we can feed 77 million in an environmentally friendly way really. After all, there’s always pie in the sky.

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