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Immigration Levels in Australia: An Analysis

Immigration intake in Australia has been increasing over time. According to Doherty and Evershed (2018), there was a great rise in Australian immigrants from 85000 in 1996 to 208000 in 2017. With immigration accelerating Australia’s population growth, debates regarding to immigrants bringing benefits or drawbacks to the overall development of Australia have arisen. The term “immigration” can be defined as changing of living country permanently, and the term “reduce immigration level” can be defined as further lowering the migration program ceiling in Australia. This essay will argue that Australian government should reduce immigration levels in Australia because of firstly, immigration enhancing the economy of Australia; next, labor problems being improved by immigration; and lastly, immigration enhancing quality of life of Australians.

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First, immigration could promote Australia’s economic prosperity. According to Migration Council Australia (2015), economy of Australia could increase by 1.6 trillion dollars from immigrants’ input by 2050. This is further evidenced by Goldin (2018) who stated that economy of United Kingdom would decrease by nine percent if immigration were to be completely prohibited from 1990. This shows that immigration plays an important role in a country’s economic growth. Immigrants improve economy in various methods. To begin with, immigration could increase the overall production of a country, specifically in sectors requiring little communication. This is because most immigrants are unfamiliar with the local languages, hence they would seek jobs with fewer requirements on communication. Thus, foreign-born workers specialized in mostly less communication required jobs, while native-born workers specialized in manual jobs (Peri & Sparber, 2009). According to Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas (2013), specialization in workforce can lead to an increase in economic gain by 3.4 billion to 6.6 billion dollars per year for the local Texas population. This shows that immigration could increase the overall production of a country because of job specialization. Furthermore, immigrants contribute to social welfare more than they consume. One of the main arguments regarding reducing immigration level is the increasing government expenditures on social welfare to satisfy the needs of immigrants. However, immigrants’ contribution in taxes and social welfare is greater than benefits received. According to Mansur (2017), immigration contributed 115 billion dollars more than they took from Medicare. This shows that economic benefits brought by immigrants outweigh government cost. Moreover, greater level of immigration encourages more investment. With more labor available in the market, firms would need to increase the production capacity to avoid overcrowding. According to Peri (2013), capital per labor was at the highest when immigration level was at the greatest point.  This shows that investment is closely connected to the amount of immigrants. Therefore it can be concluded that immigrants can improve Australia’s economic growth from greater production quantity through specialization, contribution to social welfare and higher investment level.

Second, immigration helps solve labor issues in Australia. To begin with, immigration can increase wage level, specifically for high skilled jobs. Florida (2017) states that immigrant diversity could leads to higher wages across different jobs, and highly paid jobs are likely to be affected the most. This is evidenced by Peri, Shih and Sparber (2013) showing that the increase in immigration level raises wage level for native skilled workers by around 5 percent. Thus immigration could bring positive effects to income level in Australia. Furthermore, immigration can help source skills that Australia needs. Labour shortage problem will become significant in Australia by 2030, and increasing immigration is a method to improve the issue (Strack, Baier, Marchingo & Sharda, 2014). Joint research by Treasury and the Department of Home Affairs (as cited in Acharya, 2018) states that migrants can input skills that the economy lacks in the short run, which can relieve the problems of lacking labors. Increased skilled labour and foreign students could accelerate the development of a economy. Doherty and Evershed (2018) stated that skilled migration has been increasing since 1996 to meet global workforce needs, while international students have increased substantially in Australia. With greater quantity of educated labors and students, Australia’s overall development could be improved through new innovations by research and development (Maskus, Mobarak & Stuen, 2013). In addition, more immigrants may result in an increased quantity of job opportunities within Australia. According to Anderson (2016), an average of 760 employment opportunities were created by immigrant entrepreneur in the United State. This is further evidenced by Wellard (as cited in Singh, Young & Bolger, 2018) stating that small migrant businesses may create 200,000 employment opportunities in Australia for the next ten years. Thus, reducing immigration levels in Australia could cost job opportunities for Australians, worsening the unemployment level. Although some may argue that jobs may be taken away from domestic workers due to the low labour cost of immigrants, however it is suggested that the number of immigrants has insignificant impact on unemployment in the United Kingdom (National Institute of Economic and Social Research, as cited in Peacock, 2012). Therefore it can be concluded that immigration could bring more job opportunities, positively affect the wage level and input skills needed to improve the development of Australia. It should not be reduced to maintain such benefits.

Third, immigration could improve the living standard of Australians. To begin with, immigration would increase the overall population of a country, and to avoid problems such as overcrowding, government could increase expenditure on infrastructure. For example, Singapore plans to improve infrastructures to solve the rising population issue (“Amended motion on white paper adopted”, 2013). With better infrastructure, quality of life could be improved. For example, Morrison (as cited in Hewett, 2018) stated that the Australian government is investing on infrastructure with the aim of reducing traffic congestion and enhancing safety, for instance, reduction in public transport waiting time, which benefits the community. Furthermore, immigration improves medical healthcare of Australia through input of skilled doctors. According to Anderson (2018), the supply of general practitioner in Australia is scarce, which generally lead to a long waiting time for patients. Immigrant doctors can improve the shortage issue. For example, Britain excluded doctors and nurses from the immigration cap in order to have greater quantity of medical services provided (Campbell, 2018). Hence immigrant doctors can enhance Australia’s medical system through easing the shortage problems. Moreover, immigrants can help women be more productive on other areas instead of completing basic roles such as housework. Low skilled women often occupy a large proportion of household jobs, and immigrants can help substitute the household works with their cheap labor cost (Cortés & Tessada, 2011). With low skilled immigrants replacing the household jobs of native women, more time are freed to perform beneficial acts such as seeking a better job. Hence, native women can enjoy a more enriched life. Therefore it can be concluded that immigration can help promote Australian’s overall quality of life through enjoying better infrastructures, medical services and provide Australian women more opportunities to accomplish more enjoyable life.

In conclusion, although it is arguable that immigration can brings in various negative impact on Australia, however this essay argued that immigration could potentially benefit Australia economically, resolving the current labors issues and furthermore, improving living standard of Australians. Therefore the overall benefits gained from immigration outweigh the cost. Thus Australian government should not reduce immigration levels in Australia.

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