MichaelCD - The Blog.

The thoughts of Michael Cadwallader. Coffee loving, history book reading, Cheshire man.

Saturday, February 17, 2007


In an otherwise excellent interview on the Conservative Home site, David Davis repeats a common falsehood:
Tired and Emotional: Does Mr. Davis believe that the demographic trends this county is experiencing - along with old Europe - are irreversible and how might a Tory government attempt to reverse or mitigate such changes without recourse to mass immigration?

If you mean the trend for all Western countries to get older as lifespans increase and birthrates decline, yes it is hard to see how they would reverse. By the same measure, people are staying healthier for longer, which I guess is one reason people do not object to the extension of working life.

Can immigration stop this trend? No, because immigrants age too, and quickly match the demographic profile of the indigenous population. The actuarial arithmetic to stop the trend requires massive and geometrically growing numbers (many millions!), far greater than even the current government would countenance and massively greater than our housing and public services could cope with.

There are a range of answers to all the issues arising from this, ranging from a much more successful pensions policy right through to policies designed to encourage stable families.

We will be publishing some ideas on population policy in the next year.

I am consistently amazed about the high number of conservatives who say we need to worry about demographics. To a man they talk about the free-market, and how it efficiently deals with peaks and troughs, yet they seem to believe that government intervention in population is needed. There are three different factors which I think they should remember:

  1. Productivity gains will cause demographic pains to reduce.
  2. If, financially speaking, it is worth the effort to have more children, people will.
  3. That the population may have reacehd a natural celing, and will remain stable from now on.
To say that it's hard to see the current trend changing ever, is simply wrong. The natural equilibrium will be found eventually. By disturbing all attempts to reach that equilibrium, mass immigration, in an attempt to reverse demographic decline, is shuffling the deckchairs on The Titanic.

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