Economist Critiques Mass Immigration in Australia. Would His Arguments Also Apply to the US?

Economist Critiques Mass Immigration in Australia. Would His Arguments Also Apply to the US?
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As a nation, we can and should learn from the examples of other countries.

Regarding immigration, there’s much we can learn from the policies and practices of other countries – both bad and good.

Australia, for instance, is a fellow Anglosphere nation in the Southern Hemisphere.

It is roughly the size of the lower 48 with a similar level of economic development.

In recent decades, Australia has taken in high levels of immigration.  

Currently, 30% of the country’s residents are foreign-born – twice the U.S. percentage.

A recent article in the Daily Mail, written by economics reporter Stephen Johnson, is entitled, "As 400,000 new migrants arrive in Australia, one expert argues high immigration makes us less productive, prevents home ownership and fuels inflation."

That certainly doesn’t sound like the typical Rah-Rah-Immigration-Is-Great slogans we typically hear in the mainstream media and political world. We’re told mass immigration is great for everybody and you’re evil if you doubt it.

The expert to which the title refers is Dr. Shane Oliver, chief economist of the Australian Mutual Provident (AMP) Society, a financial services firm.

Here’s how the article begins:

“Record-high immigration is fuelling inflation by making Australians less productive at work and stopping them from owning a house, an economist says.”

It sounds like Dr. Oliver is saying that mass immigration actually produces negative effects among the native-born population of Australia.

Could that apply to the native-born population of the United States? Or is it evil to simply ask that question?

“Treasury is expecting a record 400,000 new migrants to have arrived in Australia in the year to June. Close to 1.5 million migrants, on a net basis, are expected to arrive in the five years as the likes of the Business Council of Australia, the lobby group for millionaire chief executives, pushes for high immigration. Australia's population last year grew by 1.9 per cent, among the highest in the developed world.”

The Business Council of Australia sounds like the Chamber of Commerce in the United States.

“AMP chief economist Shane Oliver said immigration-driven population growth was in fact making Australians less productive at work, because they often had to travel long distances to the office. 'Very strong population growth with an inadequate infrastructure and housing supply response has led to urban congestion and poor housing affordability which contribute to poor productivity growth,' he said.”

As you can see, this is quite different from the rah-rah justifications for mass immigration we often hear.

We constantly hear that mass immigration and unrestrained growth are good for the economy. But is it really good for the workers and taxpayers of the receiving country?

“If wages go up four per cent and productivity growth is zero, business costs go up four per cent and they will pass this on to their customers likely resulting in inflation above the RBS’s target,” Dr. Oliver says.

Dr. Oliver also argued that "high population growth meant investors were buying homes for capital gain, to take advantage of a housing shortage, instead of ploughing their money into new business ventures or shares. Increased speculative activity around housing diverts resources from more productive uses.”

In Sydney, Australia’s largest city, the median house price is $1.334 million while the average salary is $94,000.

Regarding population, Australia passed the 25 million mark in 2018. That landmark was reached 24 years earlier than predicted by the Treasury in 2002.

In 2022, the population reached 26.25 million.

How much of that was due to immigration and how much to natural increase?

Last year, Australia had 109,800 more births than deaths. Meanwhile, net immigration was 387,000.

In 2022, Australia’s population grew 1.9%, in comparison to neighboring New Zealand (0.7%), Canada (2.7%) and the United States (0.4%).

Kudos to the Daily Mail for at least allowing a dissent from the typical Pro-Mass-Immigration Boosterism.

If what Dr. Oliver says about Australia is true, what are the odds that it would be largely true of the United States, as well?

You can find more of Allan Wall's work at his website.

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