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  1. #1
    Senior Member zeezil's Avatar
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    May 2007

    UK: Perpetual population growth is neither possible nor desi

    Perpetual population growth is neither possible nor desirable

    These latest figures, showing yet another year of population growth, raise a fundamental question millions of voters would like to ask, but is never answered: what is the government's population policy?

    Rosamund McDougall, Co-Chair and Policy Director, The Optimum Population Trust
    Last Updated: 3:12PM BST 21 Aug 2008

    Is it to continue to pack this crowded island until our numbers reach 109 million in 2081? That's the highest current population projection, assuming an average family size of just over two children, net immigration running at 250,000 a year, and longer life expectancy.

    Even the more realistic 'principal' projection from the Office for National Statistics takes us to 85 million by 2081, adding another 16 million people by 2050. Accommodating another 16 million people would mean the equivalent of building another four Londons, in a country already suffering pressures on infrastructure, environmental stress and looming energy shortages.

    Successive governments' policies, which have never been explicitly stated, appear still to be based on an arithmetically impossible presumption that perpetual population growth is desirable, that more people means faster economic growth, and that 'breeding for Britain' or mass inward migration will relieve the expected burden of providing for an ageing population.

    It is true that our population is ageing, and that the costs of supporting an increasing number of people over 80 will be a strain on pension and health service resources. But perpetual population growth is no solution: it can only increase the ratio of people of working age to pensioners in the short term. In the long term, today's young people will become pensioners in turn, requiring yet more younger people to support them.

    There are other solutions to any developed nation's need to support its ever-ageing citizens, and the first is to make better use of the population it already has. Paradoxically, the government is beginning to tackle this, though without any stated aim of stopping population growth. Pension age has been raised and healthy pensioners are among the fastest growing re-entrants to the workforce.

    1m of the 2.62m people on incapacity benefit are reported to want to work, too. Even in an expanding economy, there is usually enough spare capacity in the domestic labour market to ensure that more jobs can be filled locally.

    Several challenges remain. Employers complain that unemployed people in Britain do not have the skills needed to fill their vacancies and balk at picking up the bill for education and training. Neither are taxpayers willing to fund twice the basic skills they believe should have been acquired before younger generations leave school.

    Many unemployed people need recognition that they can only work part-time or flexibly if they are to work at all.

    But all this can be done, with political will. If population can be stabilised at a level which is environmentally sustainable in the long term, the future could be a brighter one, with a better quality of life for all.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member zeezil's Avatar
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    May 2007
    U.K. Population Reaches 61 Million as Migrants Have Babies

    By Robert Hutton

    Aug. 21 (Bloomberg) -- A rising birth rate and record immigration helped the U.K.'s population to rise to almost 61 million by mid-2007, as fertility levels rose and previous migrants had babies.

    Numbers published today by the Office for National Statistics show that while inward migration is still the largest source of population growth, ``natural change'' -- births minus deaths -- contributed 48 percent of the increase in the year to mid 2007, up from 33 percent in 2000-01.

    Other figures showed people over 65, the age where they begin receiving a state pension, outnumber for the first time people under 16. The increased inflow of migrants in the past decade has probably eased inflation pressures in the economy, the Bank of England wrote in a quarterly bulletin last year.

    ``In the short term, we've got a higher dependency rate, with working age people supporting a greater number of people, exacerbated by the increasing numbers of the elderly,'' said Richard Snook, an economist at the Center for Economic and Business Research. ``But in the long term, we're going to have more taxpayers to support the aging population.''

    Inward migration reached its highest level since the current method of counting was introduced in 1991, with 605,000 long-term migrants arriving in the year to mid-2007. Outward migration also reached a record, at 406,000. Statisticians partly attributed the changes to previous migrants who had come only for short periods going home.

    Fewer Visas

    Separate figures published by the Home Office today showed declines last year in the number of people applying for political asylum and the number granted permanent residency.

    Asylum applications declined 1.1 percent to 19,795 and are down 65 percent from their peak in 2002. The Home Office refuses about three-quarters of asylum cases. The number of people from outside the European Union who were allowed to settle in the U.K. fell 7 percent to 124,855, down 30 percent from a peak of 179,120 in 2005.

    ``The immigration tide is turning,'' said Jill Rutter, a senior research fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research. ``As fewer Eastern Europeans arrive, asylum numbers fall and there is reduced demand for migrant workers, we would expect the nature of migration to change. The challenge will be to attract enough workers with the right skills.''

    Children of Migrants

    Migrants also contributed to the rising birth rate. A quarter of children born in England and Wales last year were to women who were themselves born overseas.

    ``There are more women of childbearing age due to the inflow of female migrants in recent years,'' Guy Goodwin, director of population, health and regional analysis at the ONS, told reporters in London today. ``Yesterday's migrants as well as today's migrants are contributing to population growth.''

    The Annual Population Survey, one of the documents published today, shows 6.3 million U.K. residents -- about 1-in- 10 of the total population -- were born overseas. The most common non-U.K. country of birth was India, followed by Ireland and then Poland. Most of the 405,000 Polish-born residents have arrived since the expansion of the European Union in 2004.
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