The 2019 Ideas Network 2030 Summer University

Trend two: Migration and demography

On current projections, the world population is due to reach almost 10 billion by 2050, although global growth rates are now slowing. Two diverging worlds exist – an ageing West and growing younger populations in much of the developing world, with sub-Saharan Africa showing the highest growth rates. For example, while half of world population growth is expected in just nine countries, with China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Tanzania, Uganda and the United States, all likely to have populations in excess of 300 million by 2050, some European countries, such as Bulgaria, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania are expected to shrink by up to 15% over the same period. In addition, while in 1950 only 8% of world population was over 60 years old, by 2050 it is expected to be over 20%.

Arising from these underlying trends will be shifting migration patterns both in geography and intensity, increased challenges in terms of job creation, social cohesion and integration, global environmental pressures and the need for increased food production, as well as the fiscal, economic and social impacts of an expanding/contracting work forces and changing dependency rates and health care spending associated with populations living for longer periods.

In the UK, challenges will include how to ensure greater participation in the workforce by people in their late 50s, 60s and 70s, designing lifelong learning policies, the need to ensure greater female participation in the work force as well as raising the retirement age to make it more in line with increasing life expectancy and reforms to ensure the long term sustainability of social care and pension systems.


Feedback - Migration & demography breakout

Key discussion points

  • Scale, pace and direction of demographic change is unprecedented… and likely to be less predictable from existing projections due to factors such as climate change, improved health and well-being, fertility changes and technology enabling longer-living.
  • Our past and current approaches to managing migration, in particular, have not and will not keep up with these changes.
    • We will not be able to effectively plan and manage migration without understanding and responding to the causes… putting up barriers will not be enough.. Reactive approaches will be ineffective.
  • National and regional migration policies have either avoided or failed to debate with their electorate a number of key questions:
    • Why we need immigration… and what would be the consequences of not having immigration?
    • What kind of immigration do we want? How can it be geographically dispersed?
    • How do we plan and manage it?
  • Recognise that the impact of migration, goes to the heart of identity, culture and sense of community… and that these elements must be factored into the planning process.
    • Too often this has been ignored or dismissed, often for reasons of political correctness.
    • It is inextricably linked to challenging and uncomfortable topics (e.g. birth and death).

Ideas and conclusions

  • We have to answer the core questions about what kind of immigration we want and how we manage it…
    • impacted communities need to be engaged & understood in the process.
    • a greater focus and responsibility for supporting integration into receiving communities.
    • infrastructure needed to support immigration and integration must be provided, particularly in urban areas which experience the highest rates of inward migration, resulting in emergence of megacities.
    • improved situational awareness regarding climate impact scenarios at national and regional levels.
  • We need to be sharper and more honest about what we mean by immigration and be more fact based and positive in its reporting. Distinguish between:
    • Labour mobility, which is needed to support socio-economic development.
    • Asylum seekers (remembering that the vast majority arrive at legal ports of entry and not on floating rafts across the Mediterranean).
    • Legal (right to reside) and illegal immigration.
    • Forced migration (conflict, drought, famine).
  • We need bolder thinking…
    • how do we enable migrants from the developing world to reside here for a time limited basis, develop skills, and support their return to the country of origin, where their learnings can be deployed?
    • Rather than investing for absolute net-zero in U.K. emissions, there is an argument for diverting that investment to support sustainable development and employment opportunities in the developing world.
    • We need to take on the challenge of effective family planning and birth control.

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