The Incredible Shrinking European Union

flageuro.gifIt’s official: the European Union released a report last week projecting that deaths will outnumber births in its 27 member states by 2015, only seven years from now. While the population in some E.U. nations (including Cyprus, Ireland, Luxembourg, and the United Kingdom) will continue to grow between now and 2060, dramatic declines will be seen in the populations of countries such as Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, and Romania. Migration will continue to increase the E.U. population until 2035, but after that date, the population will begin to decline. By 2060, 30% of Europe’s population will be 65 and older, and 12% will be aged 80 and older. “In other words, there [will] be only two persons of working age for every person aged 65 or more in 2060, compared with four persons to one today.”

Particularly in those nations that rely heavily on taxes to fund social expenditures, this population decline could have dramatic impacts on welfare, social security, health care, and public school funding. But of course, I’m most interested in the impact these demographic changes may have on immigration laws. Will “Fortress Europe” become more welcoming to immigrants? What impact might more liberal European immigration policies have on U.S. immigration laws? To be sure, increased immigration alone will not solve the complex problems resulting from the “greying of Europe”, but what will happen if the current restrictionist laws remain in place? Stay tuned . . .

Cross-posted at IntLawGrrls

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2 Responses

  1. osvaldo says:

    Interesting developments. Europe has traditionally been a region of emigration, especially in the past century. Generally speaking, it seems to be that today, this feature still shapes much of the debate regarding the issue of immigration, rendering it difficult for policy-makers to convince population –especially low qualified workers—that immigration is necessary. And these people are also voters, who elect national governments, and members of the European Parliament. I have the impression that both national and European authorities are trying to soften up the debate by emphasising that they are targeting highly qualified workers, who would decisively boost European economies, and contribute to the general welfare system. The questions are: is such an approach realistic? Is it possible to honestly discuss such topics in times of elections? From the historical-normative point of view, is it moral for Europe to adopt immigration policies that discriminate based on skills?

  2. Brett Bellmore says:

    The problem for Europe is that, in order to keep the place going in anything more than name, immigration has to be carefully managed so that the immigrants are similar in some respects to the people already present. Children may adopt the local culture by default, but adult immigrants bring their own, and unless hugely outnumbered, do not fully adopt the local culture. They replace it, instead.

    Otherwise you get, for instance, an Italy where the people don’t speak Italian, or particularly like pasta.

    It’s the nation-state equivalent of “You are what you eat.”

    The big problem for the West, is that there aren’t enough potential immigrants with Western value systems to satisfy the demand of all the sub-replacement Western nations. So it’s simply impossible for them to all continue in anything more than name; A century from now, most of Europe will be unrecognizable.

    The US, too; Ironic, that, because we’re close enough to replacement to not need massive immigration. Our political class are forcing it on us anyway, for their own reasons. Why they think this continent needs two Mexicos is a good question, for which I see no admirable answers.