Well, compare them with the number of births in the UK. The plot below are data from the Office for National Statistics about the number of births since 1938 (i.e. ‘0’ is the year 1938 and the final year on this plot is 2014). The post-war ‘Baby-Boom years saw well over 800,000 births a year, as did the ‘late seventies spike’. Since then the total number of births has collapsed dramatically to around 600,000. When you hear about net-migration being around 300,000 then this is not some ‘incredibly large and unmanageable number’ but rather something like half the natural birthrate. Now you might argue that the natural birthrate is offset by a natural deathrate is well to yield a slowly rising population. Well, EU-migrants have a finite lifetime too.
Also view this with pensions in mind, pensions that are to a large part paid from contributions of current workers. Low numbers of births mean pensions become unsustainable sooner rather than later. Migration mitigates this effect. And think of this yet another way: when a baby is born into the UK it needs UK-investment in the form of childcare, parental care, primary school, secondary school, possibly sixth form, college or apprenticeships (and many more things) before it, economically-speaking, becomes a net-contributor to Society. An EU migrant however has had all these things paid for by their EU home-country before they come to the UK. The EU migrant brings the economic contribution to the UK while the majority of the investment-costs have been made in their home country. And if they follow the example of plenty of UK citizens … they might retire in Spain as well.
So when 300,000 EU migrants sounds daunting and an impossibility … it is actually a pretty sweet deal for the UK. Of course some of that extra economic productivity they bring into the country should be invested in housing and public services. Unfortunately those investments have been at an all time low in the UK … migrants or no migrants.
By Frank Witte a member of one of the SY2E – Remain in the EU groups.