Monday, May 27, 2013

Assar Lindbeck: Sweden cannot afford unlimited immigration.

Assar Lindbeck has been Sweden’s most influential economist during the post-war era, often referred to as “The Nestor of Economics in Sweden”. Lindbeck was a leading member of the Nobel Prize committee 1969-1994. Though a Social-Democrat, he was instrumental in awarding the prize to at the time politically controversial choices Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman. Most of the economic reforms that Sweden has carried out in recent decades are based on his “Lindbeck Commission”.

In a bombshell interview by Paulina Neuding in the Magazine Neo, he discusses the economics of open borders (in Swedish).
Assar Lindbeck points out that it is clear” that Sweden cannot have open borders, since the welfare state cannot afford the strain of unlimited immigration.
 

Under våren har det pågått en debatt om invandringens ekonomiska effekter, där man bland annat från centerpartistiskt håll har hävdat att fri invandring skulle vara en ekonomisk vinstaffär för Sverige. Hur ser du på det?

– Alltså, låt mig först säga att invandring har berikat Sverige i många avseenden. Det är bara att se på den svenska kultursektorn, hur många framstående invandrare vi har där. Det är också så att invandrare har lägre genomsnittsålder än svenskar, vilket ger en jämnare åldersfördelning i landet. Och det underlättar potentiellt finansieringen av våra äldre. Potentiellt.


– Men det förutsätter att människor kommer i arbete, och invandrare kommer i alltför låg utsträckning i arbete. Skälet är förstås att det är många fler nu som inte är arbetskraftsinvandrare och många som är lågutbildade. Och Sverige är inte särskilt väl rustat för att integrera stora grupper lågutbildade.
 

Varför inte?
 

– Det sammanhänger med att vi har höga ingångslöner. Vi har hög arbetslöshet bland lågutbildade svenskar, och vi har ingen fungerande bostadsmarknad eftersom den har förstörts av hyresregleringen. Så invandrare kommer till kommuner där de inte får arbete eller bostad. Och då får man inte de samhällsekonomiska vinster som man skulle kunna få av invandringen.
 

– Så slutsatsen är att en välfärdsstat av svensk typ med höga ingångslöner och en icke-fungerande bostadsmarknad – vi klarar inte hur stor invandring som helst utan att det blir stor arbetslöshet och socialbidragsberoende bland invandrare.

Hur bedömer du dagens situation i det avseendet?

 

– 60 procent av socialunderstödet går redan till invandrare. Invandrare har fem gånger så stor sannolikhet att leva på socialbidrag som en infödd. Så redan nu har vi problem. Det betyder att vi måste ha en reglerad invandring.
 

– Vi är ett rikt land med en välfärdsstat och vi är nio miljoner invånare i en värld där tre, fyra miljarder människor skulle betraktas som urfattiga. Det är klart ett sånt land inte kan ha fri invandring.
 

Klarar vi dagens nivåer?
 

– Det är en öppen fråga. Jag vet inte om vi gör det faktiskt. Det är en fråga om storlek och hastighet och eventuella ändringar av vårt mottagningsförhållande. Vi kan naturligtvis bli bättre på svenskundervisning och så vidare. Men det är marginellt i förhållande till storleken på problemet.
 

Du har myntat idén om insider-/outsidersamhället, där de som är inne i systemen, som har jobb och bostad, agerar på ett sätt som missgynnar outsiders. Ska segregationen förstås ur ett insider-/outsiderperspektiv?
 

– Ja, det är klart, vi är ett insider-/outsidersamhälle. Både på arbetsmarknaden och på bostadsmarknaden.
Vad kan man göra åt det?


– På arbetsmarknaden tror jag att lösningen ligger i att man inrättar lärlingssystem, för inom ett sådant kan även fackliga organisationer acceptera lägre ingångslöner. Sänka löner med lärlingssystem.


Och uppluckrad arbetsrätt?


– Ja, troligen det också.

– Det här med fri invandring, de som pläderar för det, de gör ett antagande om att lönenivån ska sänkas tillräckligt mycket för att människor ska få jobb. Men det ligger inte särskilt väl i linje med svenskt samhälle. Man kan inte göra om ett land hur som helst, det har sina normer och sina mål.


– Välfärdsstaten klarar inte vilken belastning som helst. Ska man då säga att man ska offra lönenivån för lågutbildade svenskar? Ska man göra på det viset att välfärdsstaten ska finansieras med dramatiskt höjda skattenivåer? Det tycks inte de som är anhängare av fri invandring bekymra sig över. Men det gör jag.

5 comments:

  1. Here is the output of Google Translate. It isn't that bad...

    "In the spring, there has been a debate about the economic effects of immigration, which, inter alia, from the centrist representation elsewhere have argued that unrestricted immigration would be a financial gain business for Sweden. How do you see it?

    - So, let me first say that immigration has enriched Sweden in many respects. Just look at the Swedish cultural sector, how many prominent immigrants we have there. It is also true that immigrants have lower average age than the Swedes, which gives a more even age distribution in the country. And it potentially facilitates the financing of our elders. Potential.

    - But it requires people to come to work, and immigrants coming in too low a degree to work. The reason is of course that there are many more now who are not migrant workers and many who are less educated. And Sweden is not particularly well equipped to integrate large groups of low-skilled.

    And why not?

    - It is related that we have high starting salaries. We have high unemployment among low-skilled Swedes, and we have no functioning housing market because it has been destroyed by rent control. As immigrants come to the municipalities where they do not get work or residence. And then you do not get the economic benefits that could be obtained from immigration.

    - So the conclusion is that the welfare of the Swedish type with high starting salaries and a non-functioning housing market - we can not know how big immigration anywhere without it becoming widespread unemployment and welfare dependence among immigrants.

    How do you assess the current situation in this regard?

    - 60 percent of the social assistance already goes to immigrants. Immigrants are five times as likely to live on welfare as a native. So now we have a problem. That means we must have a regulated immigration.

    - We are a rich country with a welfare state and we are nine million people in a world where three, four billion people would be considered totally impoverished. It is clearly one of those countries can not have free immigration.

    Can we handle the current levels?

    - It is an open question. I do not know if we do that actually. It's a matter of size and speed and any amendments to our reception ratio. We can of course be better at teaching Swedish and so on. But it is marginal in relation to the size of the problem.

    You have coined the idea of ​​insider-/outsidersamhället, where those who are inside the system, who have jobs and housing, act in a manner unfavorable to outsiders. Should segregation understandable from a insider-/outsiderperspektiv?

    - Yes, of course, we are a insider-/outsidersamhälle. Both the labor market and the housing market.
    What can you do about it?

    - In the labor market, I believe that the solution lies in the creation of apprenticeships, for within such can even trade unions accept lower starting wages. Lower wages, apprenticeship system.

    And loosened labor laws?

    - Yes, probably that too.

    - This thing about unrestricted immigration, those who argue for it, they make an assumption that the wage level is low enough for people to get jobs. But it is not very much in line with Swedish society. One can not make a country anyway, it has its norms and its goals.

    - The welfare state can not handle any load. Shall we say that you should sacrifice wages for low-skilled Swedes? Are you supposed to do in the way that the welfare state should be financed with dramatically increased tax rates? There seems to those who are supporters of free immigration to worry about. But I do. "

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  4. Mr Lindbeck is one of the very few of a prominent position to voice an opinion in conflict with current immigration policies. Due to the overwhelming "politically correct" standard of conduct in media and politics few dare to voice any contrasting opinion like Lindbeck does in order to avoid social and career repression. See, there you are learning some new stuff about Sweden that is not always evident to a newcomer.

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