The rich countries of the world, especially those of Western Europe, are aging rapidly due to fertility rates far below the replacement rate, while experiencing substantial immigration from elsewhere in Europe, North Africa, and the third world generally. For the foreseeable future, West European countries will confront a policy tradeoff between population aging and (im)migration. The literature shows that both skilled and unskilled workers affect the highly redistributive fiscal systems of the advanced economies, the first as net contributors, the second as net beneficiaries. Age-imbalanced population structures in rich countries and global competition for labor create incentives to limit the extent of redistribution in rich countries.

David E. Wildasin / dew@davidwildasin.us