More immigration not the answer
National Post, May 22, 2009
Re: Say Goodbye To Housing Booms ... Forever, Don Coxe, May 21.
Don Coxe has it exactly right when he ties today's economic woes to low fertility rates rather than Wall Street. But he has it exactly wrong when he suggests that increasing immigration is the answer.
To the contrary, the machinations of Wall Street financial engineers pale alongside the imprudence of governments who have used mass migration to inflate flagging GDPs caused by flagging fertility rates. Whether post-War Britain, which flung its doors open to its Commonwealth citizenry, EU labour mobility agreements or American indulgence of mass Latino migration, much of it illegal, housing booms have followed and not only not helped but exacerbated low fertility rates.
As a U. K. House of Lords report recently concluded, housing has become largely unaffordable for the local population in Britain -- a deciding factor in the lives of young couples wishing to start a family whose wages may have already been undercut by low-wage immigrant labour. Worse, successive American governments turned home ownership into a social program for millions who couldn't afford to pay their mortgages -- an incendiary situation to which Wall Street only lit the match.
Leading economic analysts, such as the prescient Nouriel Roubini, point to overinvestment in housing stock and the absence of capital investments and labour productivity enhancements as factors in the current financial crisis. Addressing these should be our starting point for economic growth and healthy demographics. Only then should we look to appropriate levels of immigration to augment, enhance and share our economic, cultural and political achievements --including housing stock in which owners can take pride and profit.
Margret Kopala, director research and policy development, Canadian Centre for Policy Studies, Ottawa.