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Case overstated: Immigrants don't cost that much at all

It would seem that immigrants, legal and otherwise, are on the march from and to somewhere in the world.   Many are fleeing persecution.   Others are what might be described as economic migrants.    In whatever category they might fall, the "host" countries are called on to provide support and aid - and governments confronted by the "locals" complaining how these immigrants are a drain on the public purse, take jobs away from the populace, etc. etc.

A report by the OECD just in concludes that cost of immigrants is actually overstated.

"Public debate about immigration is being distorted by unfounded concerns over the financial burden that new arrivals put on governments, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said in a report on Thursday.

Across the developed world, “the fiscal impact of immigration is close to zero,” the organization said in the report, which compares the costs of immigration internationally. “The current impact of the cumulative waves of migration that arrived over the past 50 years is just not that large,” it added, “whether on the positive or negative side.”

The O.E.C.D., which is based in Paris, noted that over the decade 2001-11, immigration was responsible for 40 percent of the population growth in member countries. Nevertheless, that inflow was usually almost irrelevant to overall public expenditures relative to gross domestic product — “generally not exceeding 0.5 percent of G.D.P. in either positive or negative terms” — as the largest costs to government, like those from military spending, are unaffected by immigration.

“Immigrants contribute more in tax and social contributions than they get in individual benefits,” said Jean-Christophe Dumont, the O.E.C.D. official who headed the study. “That’s why the net fiscal impact is mostly positive,” even if small.

“The public perception is that they take much more out than they put in,” he said, “but that’s just not the case.”

That message, however, has largely failed to sink in, the O.E.C.D. found, partly because some children of immigrants perform poorly in school and the job market and need government aid. In other cases, politicians find it easy to stereotype immigrants for political gain."


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