May 26, 2020

Accounts and not stories: what the immigrant brings to the economy | Economy

Can anyone believe that Caritas only helps immigrants? Or that rent subsidies only benefit foreigners? Or that refugees use the health system to order Viagra and then go on vacation with public money? There are shameless lies that are shared, they expand by groups of WhatsApp or Twitter and are installed in some corner of the brain of certain people. They are especially harmful when they relate immigration and money, and their dissemination does not include a high level of sophistication. It was denounced by reporters and analysts gathered at the penultimate International Congress of Migration Journalism a year ago. “People need answers. I received about 20,000 messages this year, and a third were questions related to migrants due to misinformation. The bad guys do it better every day, there are dozens of disinformation websites that have the appearance of serious media and that constantly lie on this issue, ”lamented Julio Montes, promoter of Maldito Bulo, a page that dismantles those scams.

Accounts and not stories: what the immigrant brings to the economy

Few people, including politicians, take the trouble to dispassionately reflect on migration and its effect on the economy. According to a Citigroup report, the economies of southern Europe, including Spain, would have grown between 20% and 30% less in the absence of immigrants between 1990 and 2015. Germany, for example, would have lost 155,000 million. A story that is read in statistics: 58 million people on the continent, About 10% of its inhabitants are immigrants. In the last decade, according to an OECD report, the growth of arrivals has been 28%. Migrations, for the most part, do not come from the poorest countries, but from those with middle income: the ILO estimates that there are 164 million people in the world in search of better economic opportunities. It is a trend with changing trends: 51% are now women and the climate exodus is rising – the UN expects 200 million people displaced for this reason in 2050.

Spain now lives another peak of arrivals: after the economic boom of the beginning of the last decade, which ended with a balance of six million net entries, the crisis produced an increase in return and for a short period of time there was a decline in the migratory balance of almost half a million people until 2014, less than 10% of the volume of those who arrived before the crisis, according to the calculations of Carmen González, of the Elcano Royal Institute. "The country experienced a negative migration balance, but it was small in both volume and duration." Since 2017, Spain recovered population at the rate that the economy was reactivating.

Officially the foreign population amounts to 4.7 million, 10% of the total. If those born abroad are taken, the percentage rises to 14% of the population, because 2.1 million have dual citizenship. There is no updated data on its effect on GDP, but it is known that the economic boom prior to 2008 was based on the population growth caused by this explosion. An estimate by the President's Economic Office dated in 2006 attributed to this phenomenon 1.1 annual GDP growth points in the 1996-2005 period, one third of all the country's growth.

Accounts and not stories: what the immigrant brings to the economy

In those years I had to have denied another hoax that still circulates: Immigrants do not steal jobs because they do not have a stable or unique number. The following data illustrates it: between 1996 and 2014 the population increased by 16% (the majority, people of working age), and in that period the jobs grew by 34%, 18 points more.

The perception: more positive
how negative

The International migration outlook 2019 of the OECD speaks of the fact that the opinions of the indigenous population on this phenomenon have remained generally stable since 2006: half of the natives do not have a particular assessment of whether those who arrive make their country a Better or worse place to live. The other half believes in equal proportions that immigrants have a positive or negative attitude. In the last CIS monographic survey on this topic, of 2017, 51% of respondents stated that immigration is “positive or very positive” for the country, and only 25% thought otherwise.

Domino effect

Across the phone from his Paris office, Thomas Liebig, an OECD expert from the department of international migrations, reflects on the fact that labor inclusion is one of the keys to understanding how an economy changes with the arrival of foreigners. “From the extreme right it is said that countries have a certain number of available jobs, something completely false. Immigrants also consume, quote, some are entrepreneurs and generate rebound effects … The best example is in Spain from before the crisis. The arrival of immigrants caused, for example, more Spanish women to enter the labor market because many Latin American women were employed in domestic service, causing that effect. ” He admits that many studies find the fiscal impact of immigration unimportant. The agency in which he works established in 2013 that the monetary flow generated by foreigners in Spain, mainly by contributions and direct taxes, was 0.54% of GDP (about 5,500 million in an economy that then exceeded one billion). To this we should add another impact that escapes statistics: that generated in the form of indirect taxes.

It is the whiting that bites its tail. Liebig recalls that migrants normally have "a lower employment rate, contribute less, but at the same time receive less than national aid." The balance between income and expenses is so fine that it recalls what happened in Canada a few years ago: “Two think thank, one of the right and the other of the left, conducted two studies to assess that tax burden of the group. Both concluded different things and had used exactly the same data! ”

Another problem is in the measurement of collection through indirect taxes, and there studies look at disposable income of families In the Spanish case, according to the CIDOB report on Immigration 2018, the reality is that the difference in income between nationals and foreigners ranges between 25% and 46% (depending on the origin of the seconds), and something similar happens with poverty indicators, which also exhibit notable unfavorable differences for foreigners. According to the survey of living conditions of the INE, 8.4% of immigrants state that they cannot afford a meal of meat or fish at least every two days (compared to 3.5% of nationals) and 65% do not They have the capacity to face unforeseen expenses (half in the case of the Spaniards). 22% of non-EU citizens cannot afford to buy a car (3.7% of nationals).

Immigrants in Spain are not only poorer than nationals, but their situation is perpetuated over time without the social elevator moving forward, as illustrated by Ramón Mahía, scientific director of the yearbook. “The levels of employment, unemployment and quality of employment do not change over time. There are many differences that transform into that different disposable income. ” Partiality and temporality are primed with the collective (formed by 40% of Latin Americans and with Morocco as the main issuing country), and the distinctions extend to a lower coverage rate for unemployment benefits.

In 2017, for example, Social Security paid unemployment to 180,674 foreigners, 9.4% of all benefits. And that, with data from 2018, the unemployment rate of foreigners stood at 21.5% compared to 14.1% of nationals. At the same time, the activity rate is higher with a self-employment percentage much higher than the rest. Consequently, the wage gaps are huge: the average annual profit of nationals of EU countries other than Spain barely reaches 80% of that of the Spanish and falls to 68% in the case of workers from the rest of Europe, 62% of Latin Americans and 59% for immigrants from the rest of the world.

Several Chinese shops in the Madrid neighborhood of Usera.

Several Chinese shops in the Madrid neighborhood of Usera.

Although there is a “self-selection in origin” – the most enterprising people, with better health, remember María Miyar, from the Department of Sociology of the UNED and collaborator in Funcas -, training is one of the greatest barriers for integration to be satisfactory “They access sectors where the career is limited. Sometimes this happens because of their own short-term expectations: many people migrate with the idea of ​​staying a short time and prioritize having a quick job to other issues. But they often do not return to their countries of origin. ”

The biography of Touba Kane, a Senegalese who lives in Vigo, is almost a personal tracing of this phenomenon. He arrived with little more than 20 years, without hardly speaking Spanish. With the help of other compatriots, he began selling bags and watches at the bars. Until one of his clients used it to clean cars in a garage. After eight years working legally, now married and with two children, he was just fired just when he had bought land in Dakar. He has preferred to collect unemployment once and become autonomous. "I want to go back to Senegal, but things don't get better there," he says. In the time he has been in Spain he has not gained great fluency in the language nor has he trained in any trade.

Nuria García has seen dozens of cases like Kane's, but escapes generalizations. Coordinator of the Teranga program of aid to immigrants from the Salesian foundation Juan Salvador in Ourense, claims that integration must “bet on interculturality, to focus the migratory fact not from charity, but from human rights”. And for recognizing that behind any person there are needs and not just a contribution to GDP. Some OECD countries adjust their labor migration programs to what best fits their economy with simple plans such as the promotion of self-employment. However, others have imposed huge barriers to family reunification or restricted the granting of asylum.

Spain has rather gone to the jump of kills, beyond that, as Ramón Mahía points out, "nationalizations in the case of Latin Americans have a particularly simple regime." A report of the Specialized Committee on Immigration, a support body of the National Security Council published last February, urges measures, for example, "for the development of contracting at source", which could be articulated through international conventions.

Frustrated expectations

The urgent often leaves no time to think about the long term. The host services know: “People come with expectations that they have to land. The procedures begin, the information on the immigration law. From there we began to build, to think about housing, in the census, ”Garcia says. A race on burning embers also in the case of refugees. Asylum applications, although they do not constitute the bulk of the entries, have been multiplied by nine between 2014 and 2018. The administrative cap has created a formidable waiting bag that can reach two years per file. The long lines at the Madrid police stations that have seen this year attest to this. At least Raquel Santos, coordinator of inclusion in the Spanish Commission for Refugee Assistance (Cear), values ​​that the rise of international refugee protection has promoted “another civil society view from a perception of reception” in people fleeing from his country because they suffer persecution on the grounds of race, religion, nationality, political opinions or sexual orientation.

Many Venezuelans, Colombians or Syrians have finished that strenuous journey in Madrid. “They are people who have higher average studies than the general migrant collective,” Santos says. If they manage to overcome a very restrictive procedure, they face a long wait and a very low rate of positive resolutions (of the 11,875 signed by Interior last year, only 575 achieved refugee status and 2,320 subsidiary protection). They come with official titles from their country, but it is very difficult to approve them: of the people who attend in Cear, only 30% have qualifications that can be recognized in Spain and only 11% manage to certify them. Many give up on the huge bureaucracy – a Syrian, for example, will not have an easy request for this or that role from the state at war from which he is fleeing. In other European countries, however, competencies are recognized through professional tests, something that many groups claim in Spain.

Pensions and money for borders

Can the immigrant population solve the problems of the pension system? According to the Independent Authority for Fiscal Responsibility (Airef), is an element to consider. In their estimates they highlight that the arrival of 270,000 people on average between 2018 and 2048 would contribute to the sustainability of the fund. “These migratory flows can have a positive economic impact beyond the sustainability of the pension system, but they can also increase the feeling of rejection,” warns the document.

As Icade professor Emilio González points out: it is of no use without a true integration “that avoids the creation of ghettos”. Carmen González, from Elcano, clarifies that the submerged economy and a lower contribution of contributions for low wages mean that immigration is not the solution by itself if births are not encouraged.

There are other monetary impacts that are not precisely easy to measure. The PorCausa Foundation, for example, has been denouncing a real problem of transparency in European money for immigration control, where public-private agreements, funds for cooperation and border control in third countries are mixed. According to his data, in 2018, the expenditure executed in public contracts of the State for immigration control amounted to at least 89 million euros. 68% ended up in the hands, to a greater or lesser extent, of four companies and a joint venture. From 2015 to October 2019, the EU has awarded Spain 779.8 million “to improve migration and border management,” according to the European Commission. The community budget in the period 2021-2027 will amount to 21.3 billion.

Now that the economic growth is on its face with the change in the cycle, the level of entries in the country is again at maximum levels and no strong falls in the migratory flow are expected because they did not occur in the worst years of the crisis. In fact, when in 2013, one of the hardest years of the recession, the minimum number of immigrant entries was reached, “this figure was still over 300,000,” recalls María Miyar, who has studied the level of roots of the They arrive: "Seven out of 10 people born abroad, according to EPA data, have lived in Spain for more than 10 years," he says. Carmen González corroborates it from the Elcano Institute: “The bulk of the group does not leave. There are many reasons that make them prefer to be here unemployed, such as if they have children or other relatives. ” So social and labor integration becomes much more important so that, in the long run, they can break that income barrier with nationals.

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