June 8, 2007


Immigrants are a resource - not a burden: The purchasing power of immigrants is rising, yet immigrants are still wrongly portrayed as a drain on resources. Hardly surprising therefore that the xenophobic socialists in the Sweden Democrats are winning votes (Billy McCormac, 6/08/07, The Local)

Southern Sweden has seen a sharp increase in immigration in recent years. More precisely, 28,000 people immigrated to the region between 2001 and 2005, accounting for roughly 85 percent of overall population growth. In fact, Statistics Sweden has forecast that immigrants will account for 90 percent of total population growth up to 2020. Racist thugs and political miscreants depict immigrants as a threat to and a strain on Swedish society. Don’t believe it.

As author Philippe Legrain argues in his latest book, Immigrants: Your Country Needs Them, immigration generally coincides with economic expansion rather than contraction. The United States, for instance, witnessed stunning economic growth between 1870 and 1920 following the arrival of tens of millions Europeans. More, a recent study of fifteen European countries found that a one percent increase in population by way of immigration resulted in economic growth of up to 1.5 percent.

Yet immigration is seldom portrayed as positive or enriching. Sweden’s immigration narrative is at times menacing, stressing its perceived societal burdens such as high joblessness, crime, government handouts and cramped living conditions. Unsurprisingly, this influx has come to be viewed with grave concern in some quarters. And while the relative success of the Sweden Democrats – a blatantly xenophobic socialist party – in the 2006 general elections signaled a particularly unsavory political development, it was scarcely shocking given the timbre of the public conversation.

But let’s leave the ravings of the fever swamp socialist xenophobes to one side.

Hardly a coincidence that the nativist legislation of the 20s--on immigration and trade--was followed by prolonged economic retardation.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 8, 2007 7:51 AM

I'm still ashamed about how many Republicans get played by the Democrats on these issues. Why do so many complain about overcrowding in the zoo, when Republicans don't believe in the zoo in the first place?

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at June 8, 2007 10:53 AM