“European countries are turning into old people’s homes. In 2050, I plan on being 80. Either I’ll be cared for by a robot or by a Syrian”
Simon Kuper writes a manifesto on why Europe should welcome migrants.
1. We need young workers
Many European countries are gradually turning into old people’s homes. Germany, Italy, Spain and others have some of the lowest birth rates in human history. About one-third of their populations will be aged over 65 in 2050, predicts the Pew Research Center in the US. Germany needs to import at least 350,000 people a year to keep its workforce stable, calculates the German foundation Bertelsmann Stiftung. No wonder Angela Merkel has been more welcoming than David Cameron, whose country is younger. But all over Europe, carers for old people are already scarce. Norway found oil under the seabed but it would have been better off if it had discovered 50,000 nurses there instead. In 2050, I plan on being 80. Either I’ll be cared for by a robot or by a Syrian.
2. We have enough space for migrants
Many rightwingers think we have reached our limits. “KEEP OUT, BRITAIN IS FULL UP”, said a fairly typical front page in the Daily Express newspaper in 2009. This feeling is widespread. And it’s true that western Europe is one of the most densely populated regions on earth. Indeed, density has long been Europe’s unique selling point: with so many people of different nations closely packed together, we have always traded goods and exchanged ideas fast.
But we have plenty more room. Many European cities aren’t dense enough. Places such as Brussels, Dublin and others sprawled during the automobile era. We can make space for newcomers through densification, says Stephanie Wunder, senior fellow of the Ecologic Institute in Berlin.
Many of the same points could be made for the U.S., and many other countries in the world.