• 50% of your lifetime income is determined by just one variable: your citizenship

    50% of your lifetime income is determined by just one variable: your citizenship

    When it comes to inequality, birthplace is destiny. In 2012, researchers at the World Bank determined that no less than 50% of our lifetime income is determined solely by the country we live in — which, for 97% of us, is also the country we were born in.  It’s a citizenship lottery – and those of us lucky enough to be born in wealthy states are automatic winners.

    This means international migration is one of the only ways in which individuals can redress the arbitrary inequalities of citizenship assigned at birth. And it works – a migrant who moves from a low-income to a high-income country can expect, on average, a 15-fold increase in income — and a 16-fold decrease in child mortality rates.

    1. Employers failing to pay the minimum wage can expect to be prosecuted once in a million years

      Employers failing to pay the minimum wage can expect to be prosecuted once in a million years

      We can all agree that the exploitation of migrant labour by unscrupulous employers should stop. But low-wage immigration is in part a reflection of broader societal inequalities and the consistent failure to adequately police exploitation. In one recent report on low-skilled immigration, for example, the Government’s own Migration Advisory Committee pointed out that ‘a firm can expect a visit from HMRC inspectors once in every 250 years and expect to be prosecuted once in a million years.  Such enforcement effort hardly provides an incentive to abide by the national minimum wages’.

      1. Immigration and cultural diversity help to reduce crime rates

        Immigration and cultural diversity help to reduce crime rates

        The US has experienced a 45% drop in violent crime rates since 1990. During the same period, the number of unauthorised migrants climbed from 3.5 to 11 million, and the percentage of the population who were foreign born rose from 8 to 13%. Correlation, of course, is not causation.  But it is a good indication that more migration does not translate into more crime.  And in fact, researchers from the US have similarly concluded that ‘broad reductions in violent crime during recent years are partially attributable to increases in immigration’. In the UK, immigrant “enclaves” – defined as neighbourhoods where at least 30% of the residents are immigrants – have lower levels of crime and victimisation than similar socio-economic areas without a large immigrant presence.

        1. Want a 10% pay rise? Work for a firm that hires migrants

          Want a 10% pay rise? Work for a firm that hires migrants

          10.5%. Until 2008, Swedish labour migration was among the most restrictive system in the developed world: trade unions ‘had, and used, an informal veto on recruitment’. Today, its labour migration system is one of the most liberal. Employers – having first advertised the job to the local EU market for 10 days – can effectively recruit any worker, for any job, from anywhere. The result? Swedish workers working for firms recruiting labour migrants earn on average 10.5% more than those working in firms that don’t. The recent rise of the far-right Swedish Democrats risks pulling apart this liberal – and successful – model for labour migration

          1. The asylum industry: low profit margins mean high human costs

            The asylum industry: low profit margins mean high human costs

            In 2012, Serco, G4S and Tascor were awarded contracts to supply housing for asylum-seekers across six regions worth up to £1.1 billion in revenue. The main objective of the outsourcing was ‘to reduce the cost of asylum support’, saving the Home Office £140 million. In 2013, Serco Chief Executive claimed that it made just 21p per asylum seeker accommodated per day, but had chosen to enter the space because for Serco ‘accommodation management [is] an important development area’. Such low financial margins, however, come with human costs. Within months of these companies taking on the accommodation contracts, charities and local government associations began raising concerns about the poor quality of housing offered – providing evidence that tenants were suffering from pest infestations, a lack of heating and hot water, windows and doors that could not be locked, and a failure to provide basic amenities like cookers or sinks.

            1. 86% of refugees live in developing countries. The UK hosts just 1 every 100.

              86% of refugees live in developing countries. The UK hosts just 1 every 100.

              Ten years ago, developing countries hosted 70% of the world’s refugees. Today in 2014, they are home to 86%. The 49 least-developed countries – places like Chad, Malawi, and Yemen – provide asylum to 2.4 million exiles. By whatever measure you choose, the idea that the West is under siege from would-be refugees flies in the face of statistical evidence. In Pakistan, there are 552 refugees for every dollar per capita GDP; that number is 303 in Ethiopia, and 301 in Kenya. For the US, UK and Australia, the equivalent numbers are 5.4, 4.7 and 0.9.

              1. For every immigrant, there’s an emigrant

                For every immigrant, there’s an emigrant

                Emigration is not a one-way flow: Western citizens leave their home countries too. Today, at least 5.6 million British citizens live permanently abroad. And while some of them may prefer to call themselves “expatriates”, 40% of these emigrants – an estimated 2.2 million UK citizens – are EU migrants by any other name.  That balances neatly with the 2.3 million EU migrants from other states who have come to the UK.

                1. We are 6 times more likely to migrate across a country than a border

                  We are 6 times more likely to migrate across a country than a border

                  Most of us, if we move at all, do so within the borders of our own country – from Manchester to London, or from New York to California. In fact, we are at least six times more likely to migrate across a country (from one region to another) than we are to move across a border. There are at least 740 million domestic migrants. Few today would suggest we should restrict these migrations – in fact, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights explicitly prohibits such restrictions. But however obvious this may seem to us, your right to move within the borders of your own is relatively recent. The US Supreme Court, for instance, only definitely confirmed US citizens’ ‘fundamental’ right to ‘move at will from place to place’ across state lines in 1920.

                  1. 47% of Brits couldn’t bring a foreign partner home

                    47% of Brits couldn’t bring a foreign partner home

                    Fallen in love with a foreign passport holder? If you want to live in Britain, you better have a well-paying job. In July 2012 the British government introduced new family migration rules, requiring anyone wanting to sponsor their non-EEA spouse’s visa for the UK to show that their annual income exceeds £18,600. This rises to £22,400 for a spouse and a child, with an additional £2,400 asked for every further child. Those affected aren’t paupers, just average families. In fact, it has been estimated 47% of the British public – and 60% of women – would fail to meet the minimum income required to sponsor a foreign relative into the country.

                    1. There are fewer migrants in the UK than we believe

                      There are fewer migrants in the UK than we believe

                      How many migrants live in the UK?  If you ask the public, 31.8%. Problem is, that’s a gross overestimate. The UK’s 2011 census suggests that the proportion of foreign-born British residents is closer to 13%: this is the same as in the US (where respondents guessed 37.8%). Across the West, the public consistently overestimate the number of immigrants in their country by a factor of nearly three. Poll after poll shows that the average Briton or American clearly thinks that there are too many migrants. But the same polls show that they also believe there to be almost three times the number of immigrants than are actually here.

                      1. Hardly anyone is a migrant – only 3% of us

                        Hardly anyone is a migrant – only 3% of us

                        In 2013, according to the World Bank, there were 232 million people living outside the country of their birth. This is a significant number: but it isn’t overwhelming. It means that just 3% of the world’s 7 billion inhabitants are international migrants. The real puzzle about the age of global mobility is arguably not why so many people are moving across borders, but why so many are not.