Some people think that bringing in foreign workers would be a way of overcoming the threatened shortage of skilled labour; for others, it would remedy the effects of an ageing population and the widening gap between those of working age and those in retirement.
The Population Division of the United Nations has in fact just produced a range of scenarios intended to shed light on how many immigrants would be needed by eight countries in order to maintain in the long term (to 2050) either their current numbers in work, or their economically active population, or else to stabilize the relationship between active and retired people (aged 65 and over).
Alain Parant reviews the results if these forecasts, which show, for example, that between now and 2050, France might need to bring in between 5.4 million and 93.7 million immigrants, while South Korea would need between 6.4 million and 5.1 billion immigrants! He argues that there is likely to be fierce competition to attract these immigrants... Above all, however, resorting to immigration - no matter how desirable this may be - cannot be a panacea for a shortage of labour, and even less a means of compensating for an ageing population.