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Dispute over the economic implications of migration

August 14th, 2017

A conservative economist suspects that core EU states facilitate migration in order to import a cheap labour force. A liberal analyst dismisses the claim that migration is the biggest economic challenge, and recommends the government spend more on education.

In Magyar Idők, Magdolna Csath contends that migration is unlikely to resolve the shortage of labour in western Europe. The conservative economist recalls that unemployment rates are high in southern European countries, and recommends that the EU try to fill vacancies by offering jobs to these EU citizens – rather than accepting ‘unqualified economic migrants’. Csath suspects that those western European governments ‘which advocate the mass intake of migrants’ are motivated by their putative economic interests – they want to get a cheap labour force in order to boost their competitiveness, rather than spending more on education and facilitating technological innovation. Csath recommends that the Visegrad countries join forces to withstand the efforts of core EU countries to import a cheap labour force to the continent. 

Writing in Heti Világgazdaság, Áron Varga recommends that the government put education and innovation in the focus of long-term economic policy, rather than migration  The liberal political scientist believes that the government cannot do much to stop mass migration. He suggests that the biggest economic challenge in the forthcoming decades will be automation: “the biggest question is if and how workers can compete with robots”. Thus the most important issue for governments, Varga continues, is not to stop migration, but rather to educate citizens to remain competitive in an increasingly automatized global economy, and invest in sectors that are not jeopardized by the automation of jobs.

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