Speaking for Ourselves

The ageing population and migration

The ageing population and migration

Ajit Muttucumaraswamy

 Migrant Voice -
 Migrant Voice - The ageing population and migration

We need studies on the effect of migration on the ageing population of Western countries. All we know is that the European countries have a birth rate of 1.5 % on average which means that we will not have  enough people of working age to sustain the production of goods and provision of services within the European countries, in a short period of 25 to 50 years.
This picture is a stark fact which has caught Europe by surprise. Even Spain, a Catholic country, which discourages abortions, cannot boast of a reproduction rate of 2.1 %, which is a must if the population is to survive as a prosperous nation. Japan and Singapore are facing a very similar  situation. Singapore gets a labour supply from neighbouring Indonesia and further afield, India and Bangladesh. But Japan is not opening it’s doors to many immigrants.
In England, many services such as hospital care, building work, and the retail sales are receiving workers from Poland and other European countries. Even China is set to face this problem of a dwindling population. Given this scenario, countries like Japan are investing in robot technology. This seems a desperate solution. Even if robots do all the cleaning jobs, the care jobs like cooking and making beds and assisting with bathing are unlikely to be done robots. Also given that human beings prefer the warmth of other human beings, even of another colour and culture, the question arises: do immigrants provide a solution?
Immigration policy in the UK is clearly not taking into account the need to find young persons to supply labour in the near future. Population increases have been noted. More persons are coming into the country as temporary workers, especially from Eastern European countries. But the draconian proposals being trialled - example, laws insisting that landlords must check the immigration status of prospective tenants- point to an attempt to tighten up the inflows of workers, namely immigrants.
Serous studies are needed to enable government policy to face up to this unwelcome situation where immigrants need to be welcomed as much needed workers. In Germany, Angela Merkel has shown the way by welcoming refugees from many nationalities.   


Ajit Muttucumaraswamy has worked in Sri Lanka, England, and Papua, New Guinea, as an attorney and accountant. He is author of the novel Memoirs of a Tiger.