One report on immigration, six different news stories

November 7, 2014

This week saw the publication of research on the economic impact of immigration to the UK. The breaking media reports made me think of six authors in search of a headline

The research was conducted by the Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM) at University College London (UCL) and published by the Royal Economic Society in the Economic Journal.

In its own summary of the work, UCL headlined it as

Positive economic impact of UK immigration from the European Union: new evidence , adding that the report showed that European immigrants to the UK have paid more in taxes than they received in benefits, helping to relieve the fiscal burden on UK-born workers and contributing to the financing of public services.

A political football match starts

The report signaled the kick off at a political football match as national and international media joined the game. The headlines show how a complex report can be reported selectively.

Sky News

The Sky headline selects the main point indicated in the UCL article, that EU migrants pay in more than they take out of the economy

The Guardian

The Guardian touches on the political point that the UK ‘gains £20 billion’ from EU migrants

The BBC

The BBC suggests that New EU migrants add £5bn to UK

Business Week

Business Week notes that EU migrants ‘ add billions to UK public finances

The Telegraph and Daily Mail

The Telegraph and Daily Mail have taken a different approach.

The Telegraph notes that ‘Immigration from outside Europe cost £120 billion’; The Mail that Non-EU migrants are costing £120 billion.

Making sense of the headlines

You have to look at the report to decide which headlines summarize what the authors believe to be the key finding of their report, and which headlines are, shall we say, more selective.


David Cameron, Immigration and Elephant Dust

November 27, 2013

The Prime Minister announces further restrictions to repel a wave of immigrants. I am reminded of the old story of elephant dust

This week [Nov 2013] the debate over immigration to the UK continues apace. The Prime Minister vigorously engages with the problem of an unmanageable number of immigrants anticipated as Romanian and Bulgarian citizens receive rights as EU citizens to relocate.

Anti-immigration sentiment

The Mail captures anti-immigrant sentiment shortly before the PM’s announcement:

A huge majority of [UK} voters want David Cameron to defy the EU and maintain controls on Romanian and Bulgarian migrants. In an explosive Daily Mail survey, eight out of ten said they did not want citizens of the two countries to be handed free access to UK jobs from January 1.

Ministers warn Britain will be taken to court if it ignores the Brussels edict to let the migrants in. But the threat of big fines from the European Court of Justice was brushed off by almost two thirds of the public.

‘Do something about it’

Mr Cameron announces further restrictions on entry requirements and access to social services. The issue has been a major political point made by Nigel Farage on behalf of his UKIP party. There have been calls to ‘Do something about it’ and ‘Show firm leadership’ of David Cameron from his own supporters.

The elephant dust story

Stay with me while I introduce the elephant dust. An old joke actually helped me work my way through this issue. The story takes place on a train in those long-gone days of private compartments. A traveller gets on, and notices that the only other occupant of the compartment is behaving strangely. From time to time, he takes out a little silver box and sprinkles something around the carriage.

“What are you doing?” he asks his fellow traveller.

“I’m sprinkling this special dust. It’s to keep the elephants away” the first traveller tells him.

“But the nearest elephant is miles away”

The man with the dust smiles knowingly: “You see! Elephant dust works really well, doesn’t it?”

Statistics

Mr Farage has been warning of millions of new immigrants. In contrast, the Guardian notes that “the number of EU migrants claiming job seekers allowance in February 2013 was estimated at 60 100, according to government statistics.”