economic growthism


12th November 2009 IN ITALY, THOUSAND IMMIGRANTS A DAY (AND SOON ON YOUR DOORSTEP TOO) By Maria Luisa Cohen (Marisa) After a long silence, my current contribution to this Blog related to news from Italy, constitutes material for reflexion concerning the present and future international situation. I bring to your attention full-page report which appeared in page 27 of the most prestigious Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera” of Thursday 29th October, dedicated to immigration and its tragedies: boat people full of clandestine would-be political refugees, adrift on Italian coasts and their personal dramas. An article commenting the report is by demographer Gianpiero Della Zuanna, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at the Seminar on Demography for university students of the SISSA University (Trieste) that I promoted. His presentation at the time went unchallenged and left the students with the impression that without of ever increasing immigration, they would be economically worst off and – God forbid! - be forced to do low-paid and low-status jobs, It is the time to elucidate in full the benefits of prof.Della Zuanna’ideas, as what a modern society needs to flourish and prosper. We begin by finding out that Italy hosts at the time of writing 4,5 million regularly employed immigrants, to which we can add another half million illegal immigrants. (Annual report by Caritas.Migrantes , a humanitarian organisation) During the last 10 years the immigrant population has increased by thousand individuals EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR. Is this mind-boggling flow going to continue in the future? The answer is YES. We have a double demographic pressure. On the one hand, there are poor countries, overflowing with able-bodied people, which, in the next twenty years, will increase by 50 million a year. These staggering numbers are the consequence of the coming of age of children, who have been born in the last twenty years, when birth rates were still high and infant mortality decreased. Even if certain countries ( China, India, Brazil ) are going to grow economically at a higher rate than Europe or the Usa, it is impossible that this new wave of young people can find a place in the local economies alone. On the other hand, without immigration, Italy will see its resident population between 20 to 60, diminish by 300.000 every year. The sons of the baby-boomers of the 50’ and the 60’ will reach retirement, but in twenty years’ time their children’s number will not be sufficient to cover the demand for labour which has increased. In poor countries, emigration, the other face of the coin, will mitigate the abundance of people, who cannot find work, while in Italy –as in other rich countries- it will satisfy the demand for more workers. If it is difficult to immigrate to certain countries, such as Japan, in the long term this policy will have dramatic results, because the population of such countries is becoming old and the whole society needs people to man essential services, that can be provide only by immigrants. The developed world and the developing world both need immigration and emigration to be demographically balanced. So says Italian demographer Della Zuanna. I can add that the same Caritas-Migrantes ,at this immigration rate, in 2050 the immigrants will reach 12 million: the most represented communities are in order: rumenians, Albanians, maroccans, cinese, ucranians. The organisation which is pushing most for a liberal immigration policy is the Church, but also the President of Parlament, the ex-fascist Gianfranco Fini, in a sudden explosion of political correctness, is complaining that in Italy there’s too much xenophobia, the forerunner of Fascism… I do fear that this opportunistic but short-sided way of thinking is going to be the norm. It takes for granted that everything is going to be as it has always been during the accelerated growth of the last few centuries: the economic scenario is the same, the age of plenty is still with us, resources are with us forever, that new reality hasn’t been absorbed, the social background is fixed. Forever, we are stumbling into the future with our eyes fixed on the past. I offer a simple explanation: Is anybody asking the serious question: Are we rich people ready to skip the last few centuries of happy growth to live in the thirteenth century, for example, with no central heating, only horse power, eating potatoes and carrots, to work in the field for a meagre return, without Prada shoes, exotic vacations, automobiles, entertainment arcades, iPods or modern slaves to do the work we don’t want to do, etcetera, I bet the answer is NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO