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Can refugees be the key to a new and vibrant immigration policy?

I think the debate about immigration is missing something really big. The biggest thing we should be worried about is the vitality and energy of our country. If we get that right everything else falls into place.

I was just watching a documentary about Japan and the ongoing depopulation there. With more and more seniors as a proportion of the population the country is losing vitality, energy and momentum. There is no immigration to speak of so it can’t replenish its reserves of young people since the birth rate is so low. In the US we have addressed that by immigration.

If you want a rough measure of the future vitality of a country you should look at its average or median age. The higher it is, the more aging people who generally don’t contribute what younger people do. The lower it is, the more younger people to do, well what younger people do, include support older people.

The median age of the US is 38. In Japan its 47. The Europeans are at 43. So the US is relatively vital, the Japanese not, the Europeans declining fast. I’ve included some other countries below.

US                         38

Japan                    47

China                    37

India                     28

EU                         43

Russia                   39

South Korea           41

Denmark               42

Brazil                    32

Australia                39

Sweden                41

France                  41

Germany               47

The Australians are like us because they have high immigration. The Europeans don’t have enough immigration to offset low birth rates. Look at Germany for an example of who is losing vitality fast.

Of course the developing countries have relatively high vitality because of high birth rates. That’s where we’ve been getting our vitality from in the main. Check out India!

And then there’s the Chinese. There are rapidly going to become like Japan because of no immigration and rapidly declining birth rates. So no matter what their other assets, the Chinese are going to be way less vital than the US.

I think it’s missing the point to say we should have more or less immigration or immigration from one place rather than another or even that the immigration should, or should not be, focused on a particular religion, ethic group or whatever.

I think what we should be aiming for in the future is a minimum level of vitality. We can measure that roughly by median age. So we should for example be mandating that the maximum national median age we are targeting for the US be set at, say, 35. Then immigration targets and countries should be set such that our maximum median age will go to that particular level.

Of course our own level of birth rates will influence the outcome. But since, like most other developed countries, our non-immigrant birth rate is flat or declining, it’s likely that we are going to need more immigration for the foreseeable future. Otherwise we will lose national vitality and lose out in the global competitive sweepstakes.

And, btw, you don’t have to worry that this policy would discriminate against refugees. To the contrary, the younger they are, the more it benefits them. The beauty of this policy is that you can tune it to meet your precise policy objectives by massaging the age-mix of the groups you most want. Refugees are generally younger, so voila!

In other words, refugees are an opportunity for the US, to get past the mess which goes by the name of immigration here in the Land of the Free. We can harness their situation and plight to achieve grand national aims for the US and at the same time step up to the global, humanistic plate. How about that!

Let’s aim for increased national energy and vitality! Everything else is noise.


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