A working paper published last year by four economists found that immigration benefited local populations in 19 of the 20 industrialized countries
they studied. Another study found that an influx of refugees into Denmark in the 1990s led native workers to switch to more skilled jobs and away from jobs that were mostly manual labor. As a result, some local workers earned higher wages.
Immigrants can be particularly important for countries like Germany that have low birthrates and aging populations. Germany already relies on workers from other European Union nations to fill many jobs. But as the populations of all European nations grow older, Germany will have to look beyond the Continent for workers. That’s partly why it has been more willing to accept refugees from Syria than have nations like France and Britain, which have higher birthrates. German unemployment is also low, at 4.6 percent, which means Germany should be able to get immigrants into jobs sooner.
Some officials in Europe, particularly in Britain, have raised another objection to immigration: “benefits tourism,” the idea that immigrants will move simply to take advantage of generous government benefits. But there is little evidence to support this claim. In Britain, for example, immigrants from the rest of Europe pay more in taxes than they receive in government benefits
, according to an analysis by two economists. Another study found that reducing immigration to Britain by 50 percent, along the lines of what Prime Minister David Cameron has advocated, would actually reduce the country’s gross domestic product and force the government to raise tax rates to keep its budget balanced.