19 July 2008

Europe: Between the Riots and the Black Death

...only 48% of non-Western immigrants are gainfully employed [in Sweden], which is 30 percentage points below the average. For this group, originating from places such as Turkey, Chile, the former Yugoslavia, the Middle East and North Africa, welfare dependency is nine times higher than for native Swedes. _WSJ
Low fertility rates in Europe are having the slow effect of depopulating the continent--a slow-motion "black death." Salon writer Andrew Leonard believes a little black death might be good for Europe--give it some lebensraum as it were. Like many leftists, Leonard is stuck in the 70s mindset, still afraid of an overpopulated Earth. Yet when Leonard was forced to read Russel Shorto's NYT piece "No Babies" in preparation for a column, Leonard seemed to "get religion" fairly quickly. Now he accepts the need for more immigrants to Europe, although it leaves a bad taste in his mouth.

But what if the new immigrants end up on welfare instead of contributing to European productivity? Europe could easily be compounding its population woes in the effort to fix them.
No doubt, a generous welfare system initially helps many immigrant families, cushioning the transition to a new country. However, the combination of high taxes, a regulated labor market, the world's highest union-imposed minimum wages and the lavish transfer programs effectively keeps out immigrants from the labor market.

...High unemployment among immigrants is of course not confined to just Sweden or Scandinavia. Throughout Europe, governments have found that well-intentioned social insurance policies can lead to lasting welfare dependence, especially among immigrants. Belgium is the European country with the highest difference in employment rates between the foreign-born and natives. The images of burning cars in the suburbs of Paris that were broadcast around the world illustrate the kind of social and economic problems France is facing with its restive immigrant population.

...The high unemployment rate [48%] is not only a drain on public finances. It also removes the most efficient path to integration. Permanent welfare addiction has an adverse and long-lasting effect on immigrant communities and their norm formation....When many adults in a neighborhood no longer work for their living, the younger generation is less likely to acquire necessary work ethics. If their role models are unemployed, chances are that they'll remain on the fringes of the host society as well. This can set off a vicious cycle of social tensions.

Immigrants may interpret their lower social standing as caused by racism and discrimination. Many natives in turn may interpret the low employment rates of foreigners as a sign of their sloth. That's an explosive mix of misperceptions and social failings. _WSJ
The problem is not as bad in the US and Australia, remarks a successful Iraqi immigrant/entrepreneur to Los Angeles in the article above. Those societies reward hard work and entrepreneurship. But in Europe there is something distasteful abou the independent entrepreneur--much like having babies is considered in poor taste among Europe's smart set.

But if a population is shrinking from a shirking away from babies, and is unwilling to welcome immigrants into an opportunity society--preferring instead to maintain a welfare nanny state--the options begin to shrink, and tend not to look so good.

Cutting off immigration and turning to automation--like Japan is doing--might work for some European countries, such as Germany and Scandinavia, that are more technologically advanced. But Europe seems to be bringing in very fecund immigrants, putting them on welfare, and keeping them there for lack of opportunities that fit the type of immigrant being imported. Did the Europeans ever ask whether illiterate, uneducated immigrants from MENA and SSA were the best immigrants to maintain a highly technological society and keep the social welfare systems printing those cheques?

Torn between the less affluent lebensraum of depopulation, and the growing cultural conflict of unassimilable and unemployable immigrants. What's a Europe to do?


Bookmark and Share


Blogger Snake Oil Baron said...

Latin America went through a long period of welfare state romance and eventually the damage - and the source of the damage became impossible to ignore. With a small group of exceptions, South and Central American nations have begun the long road to reform. Europe will do this as well when they run out of alternatives. Europe has some benefits that Latin America did not. Europe already has a developed modern infrastructure. They are integrating a large regional market with a common currency which may not be the panacea that was hoped, does reduce administrative costs for commercial transactions. And they exist in an era when global trade liberalization is far more advanced than it was during South America's time of socialism. So while they are not doing everything right, they are not able to get everything wrong either. The important question is: How long will the attempt to prop up the welfare state be maintained as a goal before it is abandoned. That will determine the amount of damage and the length of the recovery reforms needed.

Saturday, 19 July, 2008  
Blogger al fin said...

Baron, Latin America has not outgrown its infatuation with socialism. Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Argentina have moved toward more central government control recently. The siren call of egalitarianism and state largesse has a strong pull on Latin Americans.

When Europeans finally wake up, it will be too late for most European nations. An all powerful welfare state combined with all powerful unions in the labour force have bred dependency into the very marrow of most Europeans.

Sunday, 20 July, 2008  

Post a Comment

“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

<< Home

Newer Posts Older Posts