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Business News

Immigrants boost the economy says NIESR


Immigration to Britain has coincided with a boost to our national productivity, according to new research from a leading economic research organisation.

The National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR) has found a “positive and significant” association between the increase in the employment of migrant workers between 1997 and 2007 and labour productivity growth in that decade.

NIESR said that a 1 per cent increase in the share of migrants over the decade had occurred alongside annual labour productivity growth of around 0.06 per cent to 0.07 per cent.

The report’s authors say more research is needed to establish a causal link, but they suggest migrant workers have tended to fill skills gaps in the labour markets rather than crowding out British workers.

NIESR points out that migrant workers’ skills level were, on average, higher than those of native-born Britons. The report, which included employer interviews and focus groups, also found migrants were generally welcomed by workforces, despite widespread negative reporting of immigration.

“We hear a lot about public opinion and concern about migration, but our findings suggest that the need for skilled migration is more widely accepted than is often believed,” said Heather Rolfe, one of the authors.

“People enjoy working alongside migrants and feel they personally benefit in terms of their own skills and the services they are able to provide.”

The report found that both employers and employees tended to think the benefits of immigration could outweigh any possible drawbacks.

Yesterday Sir Michael Rake, the CBI president, described the “factually incorrect, emotive debates around immigration” as “unhelpful and damaging”.

Separate research, which is published today, shows that immigrants who have arrived since 2000 are less likely to receive benefits and are less likely to live in social housing than native Britons. The report, from the Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration at University College London, also found that migrants have made a positive contribution to the national finances.

It estimates that immigrants from the European Economic Area have, on average, contributed 34 per cent more in taxes than they received in welfare transfers. Over the same period the average total of native Britons’ tax payments were 11 per cent lower than the transfers they received.