49,000 Slovaks live in Britain

Link here and what does it mean.

Questions:

What do you think about the wave of immigration from Eastern Europe to UK? Positive or negative effect on Britain?

Answers:

Franck Düvell, Senior Researcher, Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS), University of Oxford

Principally, internal European mobility is one of the highest values and rights in the EU and rights are there to be enjoyed. Mobility is an important aspect of European integration, thus migration is a good thing and a practical form of integration. Indeed, mobile people contribute more to European integration than immobile people. The UK enjoys all the benefits of the EU membership, e.g. political solidarity, free trade and transfer payments, this is very advantageous for the UK, for this they have to accept mobility of the European people, that is the price to pay.

In economic terms we all accept and appreciate that we live in a liberal market society, hence markets decide where people can find jobs. So if there are still jobs in the UK for migrants then migrants who fill the vacancies are a benefit. If there are no more jobs for migrants than people will probably return home or go somewhere else. So again, from a labour market perspective migration is inevitable and the mobility of workers an advantage.

Tim Haughton, Senior Lecturer in the Politics of Central and Eastern Europe, University of Birmingham

Immigration is generally a positive thing in economic terms as migrants tend to be young, enthusiastic individuals who want to work. The migrants from the 2004 EU entrants have certainly benefited the UK economy. The only major downside is that migrants tend to flock to the same places. Some towns and cities in the UK such as Slough or Southampton have seen a significant increase in their size due to migration from the 2004 EU entrants. This causes problems with public services such as schools and hospitals which often find it difficult to adjust quickly to new demographic trends.

Abby Innes, Lecturer in the Political Sociology of Central/Eastern Europe, London School of Economics and Political Science

It is excellent for the UK economy to have highly skilled, hard working Slovaks coming to our economy!

My worry is what the brain drain does to CEE economies, that have such neo-liberal economic policies that they are spending less and less on training/skills and in the meantime they combine low unemployment protection, medium employment protection (not least because multinational investors prefer that) and really high social insurance contributions, which as a combination creates peculiarly rigid labour markets….’Flexible labour markets’ are only likely to work if you have high credit availability and the tax wedge on labour isn’t high and so it’s not too expensive to employ people – but neither condition applies because the foreign owned banks are rather risk averse in domestic lending to business and successive governments have preferred the politics of low direct income tax and high taxes on labour, even though economically that’s a really perverse combination, leading to a chronically low employment rate overall (a feature of the whole region…) FDI cares about low corporate tax, not so much personal income tax rates so you could have higher personal income tax rates – progressively, and lower the burden of taxation on employers, but having lowered PIT rates it’s really hard, politically, to raise them again….Medium level employment protection only makes sense if you’re trying to maintain a skilled employer base and prevent poaching but since you’re a liberal economy (rather than a coordinated one, like Germany) companies can poach skilled workers so again you get the worst of both worlds – it’s hard to sack people, who may not be useful, but you’re likely to lose skilled workers to your neighbours if they outbid you on wages. Better to do what Denmark does which is have low unemployment protection but really high skills investment – and at least Slovakia, unlike your neighbours, has tried to boost education spending, but still your labour market policies don’t add up…unfortunately some of the long term unemployment is a legacy of the communist production pattern but labour market policies of high taxes on labour and a reliance on flexible labour markets when the context for them working doesn’t exist, is, I would say, problematic…

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