A new report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) revealed the drastic situation of many countries, such as Britain, the US or Japan: They might get overwhelmed by their aging populations, and consider regulated migration as a mean to fight the steady decrease in their population. The situation is similar in many European countries, hence the EU is considered as one of the most affected regions. Take Germany as an example: The country where I am currently living has a negative fertility rate since years, what makes migration the only positive addition to the population.
The biggest problem seems to be the falling support rate: The support rate is the relation between the working population who is paying taxes and accumulation money, and the non-working population who is in most cases dependent on financial support. The current support ration in Europe is about 6 to 1, so there are 6 people supporting one elderly person. This is basically how we maintain our pension and healthcare system, which would be difficult to maintain when working population continuously decrease. This development might imply that the legal pension age need to rise, so that people stay more productive, or governmental pensions might reduce.
Rising the legal pension age is a very difficult policy, just image the situation, that you and your generation is supposed to work years longer, just to receive the same pensions and health care as other did? This causes a lot of tension and frustration, it also raises the question why- Why are talking now about this problem, which has begun decades ago? Moreover, how what did cause this development and what do we need to do about it?
Some generations are called the „Baby-Boomers“, exactly because of their high fertility rates; and it is something completely normal that populations experience always a slight demographic shift. But this one is different, it is much more focussed on some regions, what brings a lot of social and political consequences with it. One of the most common policies to reduce the effects of population aging is replacement migration. Replacement migration is a term which was coined by the UN, which released a study in 2000 arguing that systematic migration would be the only option for the developed world to keep their productivity level high while having good social and health care systems. With allowing skilled worker to settle in the countries, the support rate would be balanced. But is this really so easy, just to „import workers“?
It is actually what happens in a lot of countries, such as the US., Canada or Australia, they were always famous for their migration policies which supports widely their economies. But also European countries such as Switzerland and Luxemburg consists largely of foreign-born population, since their economic wealth attracts many skilled workers. I am not trying to argue against migration here, migration has always been a part of human history and is enriching our societies, but the question here is the motivation. The concept of replacement migration reminds me a lot of the German „Gastarbeiter“: People from Turkey, Italy or Spain which got attracted with temporally limited contracts, and where then supposed to leave wealthy Germany again. Fortunately, they could not send them back as soon as their contracts ended, that would have been a scandalous exploitation, so many settled permanently.
The migrants, which should be replacing the elderly generations are supposed to do something similar: They should work hard, increase productivity, pay taxes and in the best case, they should get many children which can be integrated and educated. If we generalize, it would imply a sort of "outsourcing of reproduction“: Reproduction would be left to the poor, especially in developing regions. This is because in our modern societies, it becomes nearly irrational to have many kids: They interrupt your work career, they cost a lot of money and time and at least one parent has to commit most of his or her life to the kids.
And for me, here lies the crucial point: Of course we can delay the effects of a population aging with increased migration or with rising the legal retirement age, but will it chance anything drastically? I am convinced, we need to create a more humane economy, which allows parents to be parents and to value care and reproduction work.