In the face of a declining global population, embracing immigration is both a practical solution and a moral imperative
Many experts see the decline in the global population in the coming century as a positive development that will alleviate environmental and resource pressures.
However, population decline poses challenges, particularly for countries with low birth rates and limited immigration. Italy, Japan, and Hungary, for instance, face the issue of an aging population and insufficient young workers to sustain their economies. Italy’s population, for example, has been declining since 2014 and is on track to decrease by 20 percent by 2070. In addition, its population is aging, with 23 percent already over 65.
Given this reality, current negative attitudes toward immigration in many countries are not only morally distasteful but also make no economic sense. Young people in developed countries are having fewer children, a trend that is unlikely to change. As baby boomers leave the workforce, there will be fewer and fewer workers left to replace them. No economy can sustain this pressure for long, no matter how strong.
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Contrary to misconceptions, immigration plays a vital role in strengthening a country’s economy. Immigrants, often young and with families, contribute by purchasing goods, paying taxes, and emphasizing the importance of education for their children. Countries like Canada leverage immigration to attract highly skilled individuals from the developing world, gaining additional advantages.
It is essential to overcome biased views that discourage immigration from specific regions. Recognizing immigrants’ positive contributions, regardless of ethnicity, is crucial for social progress and economic prosperity.
Some Canadians tend to disparage countries which lie along the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea or which have a physical border with Latin America. If we are honest with ourselves, however, we recognize that our unwillingness to allow significant numbers of brown and black refugees into our country is both disgraceful and foolish.
I make this statement as the grandchild of Arab refugees to North America from the last century. I see the contribution my family is making as highly educated and productive professionals throughout the continent, and statistics show that we are far from unique.
While her policy seemed controversial at the time, Angela Merkel’s decision to bring one million largely well-educated and young refugees into German in 2015 will be seen as a brilliant manoeuvre when the German economy continues to thrive while those of many of its European neighbours edge toward bankruptcy.
Of course, a viable argument can be made that refugees are not the most ideal immigrants. All countries would like to have the luxury of Canada, which attracts immigrants to suit the needs of its economy. Unfortunately, there are currently 108.4 million forcibly displaced persons in the world, of whom 35.3 million meet the legal definition of “refugee”.
The best solution to the refugee crisis is not to have refugees. We often forget that people do not want to leave their homes; they are forced to do so to escape wars and violence and to protect the lives of their loved ones.
The greatest motivator to fight wars that create refugees is the profitability of the war machine, so it is no coincidence that the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (France, Great Britain, the United States, Russia, and China) are also among the most prominent weapons producers in the world. They all need to be called out for their hypocrisy.
In the face of a declining global population, embracing immigration is both a practical solution and a moral imperative. Immigration strengthens economies, contributes to cultural diversity, and fosters social cohesion. To meet the needs of countries with declining populations, it is essential to treat people from countries with growing populations with fairness and to invest in their well-being.
Overcoming selfishness and xenophobia is crucial for building a harmonious world. By promoting justice and compassion, we not only help others but also create a better future for ourselves and the generations to come. It is time to embrace immigration and reject the greed-driven dynamics of the military-industrial complex.
Gerry Chidiac specializes in languages, genocide studies and works with at-risk students. He is the recipient of an award from the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre for excellence in teaching about the Holocaust.
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