The press has made a lot about the UK’s population increasing by 4.3 million people by 2018. Naturally people are concerned about the impact that this will have on the country’s basic social and economic infrastructure, and begin to question the scale of immigration.
Of course there is a different side to this debate – namely the fact that the UK’s population is aging and will potentially prove to be a huge burden to the economy. With higher life expectancy, the ratio of workers to dependents is going to to be much lower. The recession has shown the precarious nature of the government’s finances, and an aging population will have a further impact on this through pension problems and higher spending on health and care for the elderly. Gradually increasing the retirement age is going to be one part of the solution, but as far as I know this won’t be enough. The thing with immigration is that you are predominantly importing people of a working age, who will therefore be able to contribute rather than take away from the economy.
Now, I understand that you can’t keep on adding people to a country ad infinitum – but from I what I can tell, if Britain’s population doesn’t increase then there will be major problems – different to the ones brought on by more immigration, but possibly more significant.
So my question is how can we equip both our economic and social infrastructure to deal with a rising population? I’ve just come from Mumbai, which is the perfect example of people learning to cope in very cramped conditions. However, its also an example of a city where the infrastructure is barely keeping up with the influx of people looking for work.
The social infrastructure argument is probably more relevant to this site. Naturally, I think that a lot of concerns about immigration are overblown and driven by an unfortunate xenophobia. However, its still important to think about issues such as how to incorporate migrants into the wider culture and not just the economy, and to think of ways of preserving and improving social mobility. Ideas?
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Filed in: British Identity,Current affairs