Due to the coronavirus, Australia closed its borders, which ultimately put a halt on immigration. Crispin Hull tells us what happened as a result of this unplanned experiment: unemployment declined, per capita income increased, and the country's GDP recovered. Immigration driven population growth, Hull writes, has been ignored as a factor in this recovery by government officials and economists. Yet, the numbers make it clear: stopping immigration yielded benefits for the average Australian.
For the first time in over a century, Australia's population trended downward. In fact, Hull found that "the population actually shrank in the first quarter of 2020-2021 for the first time since 1916." Over the past few years, the country's population saw an increase between 1 to 2 percent, which occurred primarily due to immigration. In just one year with no immigration, Australians are reaping the benefits of being on a path toward a stabilized population.
Government leaders were subsequently forced to look at ways to assist the unemployed and underemployed. As Hull notes, these officials "decided to pour money into apprenticeships and training." And these funds were available, Hull says, because there wasn't a need to "build infrastructure for a city the size of Canberra in just one year" in order to accommodate immigration-driven population growth. Hull advocates that the unemployment rate "bounced back" as a result.
Not only did unemployment decline, but the average amount of money each person earned increased. Hull writes that "national income per head" also went "up by 1.4 percent in 2020." If immigration-driven population growth had continued, Hull discerns these per capita gains acquired would "have been wiped off, and the typical Australian would have gone backwards." In fact, the country as a whole saw its GDP increase as well: output of goods and services reached levels as high as they were before the pandemic overthrew typical daily life.
It isn't surprising, as Hull says, that the country's treasury, leading economists, and economic commentators have all been "utterly silent on immigration and population growth." Hull maintains that "it would be good if this were to be a more permanent state of affairs: training our own rather than stressing our environment, cities and existing population by giving business the cheap way out." This accidental experiment confirms what Hull asserts: "Economic growth based on population growth is an illusion." The would-be long-term effects of reducing immigration to a sustainable level in both Australia and in the United States have yet to be fully realized. However, seeing the economic performance and recovery in Australia, it certainly seems like an issue worth exploring.
Amy Boylan is Content Writer for NumbersUSA's Sustainability Initiative
Updated: Wed, May 12th 2021 @ 3:45pm EDT