Indeed, migration has been one of the intrinsic components of the concentration of the labour force in cities which is a fundamental pillar of development. International migration is an ever-growing phenomenon that has important development implications for both host and origin countries. A multicultural city like Birmingham has been promoting the positive aspects of migration that it can be managed to the best interests of destination cities as well as of the migrants themselves. So, it is worth highlighting the impact of immigration by dividing into three sections relating on to the economy, society and culture, and the political sector.
Impact on the economy Immigration and economic change are inter-related: differences in the stock of immigrants across the region may be correlated with persistent differences in economic prosperity and changes to the economic success of a particular region may lead to increased (or decreased) immigration and emigration of existing residents (Dustmann, 2003). As the economic performance of cities may be measured differently, evaluating the short and long-term impacts by the immigrants on the economy is difficult (Spencer, 2002).
For instance, a project for providing free vocational and language classes to the migrants may initially have an unfavourable economic impact, but in the long run, it would significantly improve migrants’ employment benefits and can, therefore, be regarded as an investment. One thing to consider is that migrants cannot be generalised as a homogeneous group; rather they should be classified as heterogeneous with different types of migrants having different impacts vary by sector. In the employment sector, a large body of literature highlighted that migrants’ employment experiences were polarised depending on the type of migrant, their country of origin, sex, level of education.
Therefore, any generalised findings might not accurately reflect the true picture of the impact of migrants on employment. After the second world war, a large proportion of foreign citizens were coming to work in the UK melting pot city like Birmingham. (Haque, 2002) found that those foreign-born UK residents represented about 10 per cent of the Birmingham working-age population in 2001. Based on the Migration statistics quarterly report, this number has fallen mainly because of a fall in the number of EU citizens coming to the UK looking for work since the year ending 2016 (Blake, 2019).
Moreover, there has been always an argument over the impact of immigration on unemployment and wages of the native population. (Glover, 2001) found that migrants tend to work in places with unfilled job vacancies (particularly in big cities like London and Birmingham) but were concentrated in areas of high employment and deprivation. (Oslington, 2001) argued that immigrants reduced employment chances of natives if the filled vacancies that natives were unwilling or unable to fill. ‘It was mainly big business employers, who benefited from labour migration, particularly employers of low-skilled workers, and those who lost out were the low or unskilled-workers competing with immigrants’ (Brown, 2002).
While importing skilled workers could depress the wages of the native workers, the increased availability of their services would benefit the rest of the population. In the case of highly qualified migrants, it is apparent that they find it easier than the low skilled migrants to find employment but (Haque, 2002) argued that the job opportunities are better for those who speak English regardless of the skill or qualification level. (Dobson, 2001) found that from 1994, the annual net gain of professional and managerial foreign migrant workers in Birmingham was consistently above 25000 and from the year 2000, there are higher proportions of foreign-born workers in the more skilled occupational groups.
Many of those highly qualified migrant workers are numerous in specific economic sectors like health and medical services, information technology and education field. It is found that more than a quarter of work permits issued in Birmingham related to health and medical services, a sector in which there had been great skill shortages (Dobson, 2001). Nearly one in three doctors and 13 per cent of nurses practising in Birmingham are foreign-born. It is clear that immigration widened Birmingham skill pool and could boost research, innovation, competitiveness and growth of the city, generally, migrants have impacted positively on specific economic sectors. When looking at the migrants’ impact on economic, it might be crucial to consider the financial contribution and consumption by migrants.
Although there is very little research specifically on the impact of migrants’ fiscal contribution in Birmingham, its impact on the national level is found to be small and differ by migrant group, for example, EEA migrants and non-EEA migrants, recent migrants and all migrants, etc. However, the fiscal impact of migrants has been estimated more or less than 1 per cent of the UK’s GDP. The net fiscal contribution of EEA migrants in the fiscal year 2017/2018 was estimated at 4.7 billion pounds, compared to a net cost of 9 billion pounds for non-EEA migrants (Oxford_Economics, 2018). The negative net fiscal contribution of non-EEA migrants was primarily due to higher spending of children since non-EEA migrants are currently more likely to have dependent children than the UK born and receive more in family benefits and tax credits.
The consumption behaviour of migrants (foreign-born) had contributed to creating and reinforcing places with high concentrations of ethnic minority individuals. ‘People who chose to migrate to a certain area might share a background or aspects of their personality that had led them to choose that particular area’ (Molotch, 2002). These commonalities might have certain impacts on the local market through the choices they made as consumers. (Jones, 2004) found that the rapid growth of Indian restaurants in Birmingham had led to intense competition for an inadequate customer base, causing a large number of restaurants in the city to operate below feasible profit margins. Furthermore, the consumer behaviour of migrants is affected by the purchasing power of the host country currency in the migrant’s home economy (Dustmann, 2003).
Due to high purchasing power of the UK, temporary migrants like workers and students in Birmingham are likely to save money and spend on return to their home country, although this hypothesis is less applicable to long-term migrants.
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