Yesterday, once again, we witnessed an attack on migrants as a Daily Express article reading 'One baby in four is born to migrants: Boom in foreign mums puts pressure on services' went viral on social media. Anil Dawar claims these 'startling statistics' are alarming and should make us reconsider UK's immigration policy. The article heavily concentrates on the strain this population growth would have on public services and of course MigrationWatch and UKIP have specifically raised concerns over strains on 'schools, housing and hospitals'.
Such click-baiting articles no longer come as a surprise, especially from a publication which openly backed Ukip in UK's general election. Given that an EU referendum is on the horizon, we need to make sure we understand all the different aspects of immigration and the effects it has on Britain. So lets unpack what this figure actually means.
The ageing population of Britain has been a concern for some time. The median age of the UK population has increased from 34 in 1974 to 40 in 2014. The largest age group in the UK is currently the 25-54 group which makes up 41% of the population, followed by the 65+ group making up 17.5% of the country. In order to support the growing numbers of the elderly in the Britain, the UK needs to maintain an acceptable proportion of the population at a working age. One of the ways to address this issue is population growth.
If migrants weren't contributing to the population growth in Britain at such a rate, we would now be closer to the situation in Japan where 'more than a quarter of its population are aged over 65' and 'is set to increase to 40% by 2055', shrinking the current population of 127million to 90million in 40 years. Japan has been very 'successful' in keeping its immigration under control, with migrants making up less than 2% of its population and it is paying the price for it. According to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japan needs 10million immigrants over the next 50 years or it would be facing major problems with its shrinking working age population and an ageing country which needs much attention and support.
With an ageing population, comes a greater need for a strong and reliable health service. The NHS, with 26% of its doctors and 11% of all its staff being migrants, simply cannot function with a decrease in immigration. Not only is the NHS heavily reliant on its migrant workers, the 40% of its doctors who come from BME backgrounds, shows how second and third generation migrants are disproportionately propping up the NHS.
Migrants not only make up the NHS as we know it, they are far less likely to use it. in 2011 the Nuffield Trustpublished an analysis that looked at how often international migrants use hospital care in comparison with English-born people. The report found admission rates for immigrants were around half that of English-born people of the same age and sex. The numbers were also lower for immigrant women of childbearing age compared to similarly-aged English-born women.
The vilification of migrants comes at a time when, according to the Express article, immigration has hit its highest level for a decade, soaring 50% in a year to 318,000. During the run-up to the 2015 general election, it was emphasised that the UK economy was growing faster than all other G7 countries.This was claimed to be a result of cuts that were imposed by the coalition government. Britain's consumption boom, which most of the coalition fan-base saw as the reason for this growth, came partly from population growth. Thanks to immigration and a baby boom, Britain's population is 3-4% bigger than in 2010.
Given the undeniable evidence, It is clear the fear of child bearing foreign women and high net migration has nothing to do with the strain on public services or inadequate infrastructure. If this was the case, there would have been more pressure on the government to use some of the gains it has made from immigration to invest in building houses, hospitals and schools rather than scapegoating migrants who have helped Britain's economical growth. These continuous attacks, more than anything else, have their roots in fear of the other, xenophobia and racism and to claim otherwise is to ignore all the facts in front of us.