What the evidence says: immigration is a positive for the UK

So writes Neli Demireva over on the London School of Economics website:

Unlike the political discourse which has stuck into “immigration is probably good, but” mode, the academic evidence remains almost unequivocally positive. The general public worries that there are many aspects of migration that could go awry and researchers have tried to address them in a similarly detailed fashion.

Take, for example, the concern over unskilled migration waves, and the danger to the welfare system that migrants with little transferable human capital can present. Several recent academic papers have demonstrated that these fears are overstated (see here, here and here, for example). Immigrants to the UK tend to be highly-skilled on average compared to immigrants in other EU member states. In particular, Dustmann and Frattini show that the average level of education, as well as the share of individuals with a tertiary education, has been consistently higher in the UK’s immigrant population than among natives and that this difference has accelerated with the arrival of new immigrants since 2000…

Migrants in the UK contribute substantially to the economy and their take up of welfare is very modest compared to the native population…

In regards to social housing, Rutter and Latorre present data that new migrants to the UK over the last five years make up less than two per cent of the total of those in social housing. In fact, 90 per cent of those who live in social housing are UK born…

There is also no evidence that crime rates have been on the rise as a result of the new immigration waves.

Useful though such a summary of evidence is, adding to previous evidence, it of course doesn’t on its own make a persuasive message to convince doubters. That requires framing a persuasive argument in terms that opponents will listen to – something same-sex marriage campaigners have done very effectively.

Do that and the existing change in public opinion towards supporting immigration will continue.

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