Politicians should be tackling the dangerously low fertility rates in Britain—rather than just addressing the issue of immigration—or the country risks sleepwalking into a situation where there are not enough people of working age to pay for an increasingly ageing population, according to one of the country’s top demographers.
Demographer and author Paul Morland said fertility rates in Britain were so low the country risked following in the footsteps of Japan, which has a shrinking and ageing population which is threatening its economic future.
In 2021 the fertility rate in the UK, according to the census, was 1.62 and had been well below the required “replacement level” of 2.1 since the 1970s and Mr. Morland said that resulted in not enough British-born people entering the workforce, which meant the tax burden and the financial cost of an ageing population would fall on fewer and fewer people.
On Monday, Home Secretary James Cleverly unveiled a five-point plan aimed at drastically reducing legal migration after figures from the Office of National Statistics showed 1.2 million had come into the country legally in the past two years, compared with 508,000 emigrants.
After the announcement—which is aimed at reducing the number of legal immigrants by 300,000 a year—the prime minister’s official spokesman said: “This is the biggest clampdown on legal migration ever. It doesn’t prevent us going further should we choose to go so in the future.”
Mr. Cleverly said the government would raise the minimum salary for work visas from £26,000 to £38,000 and Mr. Morland said: “It all sounds very nice and I’m all in favour of it, but if the bus doesn’t come because there’s no bus driver or there’s no-one working in your mum’s old age home etcetera … We’re short of labour because we haven’t had enough children.”
He said the debate over legal immigration—never mind illegal immigrants crossing the English Channel and the controversial Rwanda policy—showed there were intense pressures at force in the UK economy.
‘Government’s Endless Rhetoric’ on Immigration
He told The Epoch Times, “It shows the pressures from business, which shows the fact that there are not enough people coming into the workforce who are British-born, which is why we need all the immigrants, and it shows that the government’s endless rhetoric about cutting immigration after 13 years in power is just rhetoric.”
Mr. Morland, who is writing another book about what needs to be done to tackle the low fertility rates in the Western world, said he was convinced next year’s general election would pass without any political leaders being bold or brave enough to address the issue.
He said: “I’m certain it will pass without any politicians addressing these big topics. I don’t think we’re anywhere near thinking about it or talking about it enough, which is why I’m writing this book, which I hope will come out next year. I don’t expect that book alone to move mountains.”