As the debate (if you can seriously call it that) about the rate of migration onto the shores of our relatively small island becomes ever more frenetic, it’s always worth staying focused on the facts of the matter – which are pretty horrendous regardless of your political, philosophical or religious persuasion. Migration Watch – an independent, apolitical think-tank whose purpose is ‘to monitor [migration] developments, conduct research, and provide the public with full and accurate facts placed in their proper context … whilst also making recommendations for policy’ has recently published the following on the topic of UK population growth. Sit down before you start reading …
FROM MIGRATION WATCH UK
Population | Key Topics
- Mass immigration is the major cause of our rapid population increase.
- It is estimated that net migration plus births to foreign-born parents has accounted for 85% of UK population growth since 2000.
- If net migration continues at recent levels, the UK’s population is expected to rise by 2.5 million over the next five years and by 8 million over the next fifteen years
- Official projections show that 60% of this 8 million increase will be down to future migration.
Recent Population Growth
Since 2000 the population of the UK has increased at a faster rate than any time in the previous 90 years. Unlike previous episodes of growth, the major reason for this increase is the high level of immigration.
The population growth of a country is affected by the birth rate, the death rate and net migration. The difference between the number of births and deaths is known as natural change. If net migration is positive then immigration is greater than emigration. Positive net migration adds to the population both directly from the migrant themselves and indirectly on natural change by increasing the number of births in the country. In 2014, 27% of all births in England and Wales were to foreign born mothers.
In 2001 the population of the UK was estimated to be 59.1 million with 4.9 million (8.3%) foreign born. In 2011 the population of the UK had increased by 4.1 million to 63.2 million with the foreign born population at 8 million (12.6%). In 2015, the population of the UK is estimated to be around 65 million.
It is estimated that net migration plus births to foreign-born parents has accounted for 85% of population growth since 2000. England is already one of the most overcrowded countries in the world.
Over 90% of international migrants to the UK go to England. England has a population density of 410 people per square km. Excluding island states and city states like Singapore, this makes England the eighth most crowded country in the world, just behind India and nearly twice as crowded as Germany and 3.5 times as crowded as France.
Future Population Growth
If net migration continues at current levels the UK will become ever more crowded. Projections of future population growth have to make assumptions about net migration, birth rates and mortality but in the UK, net migration at recent levels is by far the largest driver of population growth. The total fertility rate (TFR) is often used to represent the ‘birth rate’ of a population. It is the average number of children that the average woman would have if the fertility patterns of any given year were to continue over her reproductive years. In the last forty years TFR has remained fairly stable, between 1.7 and 1.9. Today the TFR is around 1.83. A TFR of 2.1 is required to replace the population in the long run.
The UK population is ageing as the birth rate has fallen since the last century and as life expectancy increases. This means that the ratio of people of working age to retired people is declining (assuming working age remains fixed at 16-64). Some try to claim that as a result more working age migrants are needed to fund the cost of caring for people in their old age. While immigration can moderate population ageing in the short term, the effect is not strong and migration cannot offer a solution to population ageing. Migrants also grow old and need to be replaced by an ever increasing flow of immigrants to have any major effect on the age structure of the UK, leading to substantial increase of the population potentially without end.
The Office for National Statistics produces projections at different levels of net migration. This allows for an estimate of the impact of future migration on population growth. The UK population is currently around 65 million. If net migration were reduced to zero (that is, the number of people entering and leaving the country were the same) the population would rise gradually to 67 million in fifteen years time, peaking at 67.5 million around mid-century before gradually declining.
By contrast, if net migration continues at the rate of 240,000 immigrants per year (the average of the last 10 years), then the population is projected to rise by 2.5 million over the next five years and to reach 73 million in the next 15 years. This is an increase of 8 million people, the equivalent of adding the combined population of Greater Manchester and the cities of Birmingham, Glasgow, Liverpool, Leicester, Leeds, Sheffield, Bradford, Nottingham, Portsmouth and Bristol. How can this possibly be sensible? 60% of this increase would be from future migration.
The population growth would not stop there. It would continue to soar, reaching nearly 80 million in 25 years and keep going upwards. These projections are illustrated below.
Figure 1. Population Projections at different levels of net migration.
Such rapid population growth has severe impacts on the provision of public services such as school places. Similar strains will be placed on infrastructure like the transport network. Roads will have to be widened and new ones built to deal with the extra traffic while overcrowding on the railways will increase. Adequate housing will have to be built to accommodate all the extra people, either by making our urban areas more overcrowded or by building on green field sites with the loss of valuable amenities like beautiful countryside and productive farmland.
The UK has a finite amount of land. Continued high levels of immigration mean accommodating more and more people on this land.
No UK government has had a population policy but the present government does have a target of reducing net migration to the tens of thousands. This would significantly slow the rate of population increase.
Thanks for that, Migration Watch.
On The UK’s Membership of the European Union
Now, bear in mind that for as long as the UK remains a member of the European Union, we – that’s you and me, the citizens of the UK, and our political ‘elite’ – can’t actually control this rate of UK population growth; not significantly so, anyway. The British Government’s policy of reducing net migration to the tens of thousands is self-evidently a joke; some would even say it’s hysterical. By and large, the size and shape of our society is nowadays all decided and imposed upon us by thousands of unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats who spend their extraordinarily well paid days in a palace in Brussels called the European Commission. To me, it all feels rather medieval living under this form of feudalistic style of governance whilst watching and, moreover, experiencing our country bursting at the seams.