I was surprised when I read a headline on the BBC website discussing migrants ‘link’ to jobless youths. The article is based on a press release by the vehemently anti-immigration pressure group, Migrationwatch UK, who have produced a report with stunningly bad use of statistics, which claims there must be a link between immigration and youth unemployment because the number of immigrants from Eastern Europe has gone up over the years, and so has youth unemployment.
They offer the meek caveat of admitting that “correlation is not, of course, proof of causation” before saying “but” it is “implausible” that they are not linked. John Rentoul has said that everything before the ‘but’ is bullshit but I’ve often found it depends on how the sentence is phrased, e.g. I’m not racist but… and that quite often it’s everything after the ‘but’ that’s bullshit and that is certainly the case here.
What the sum of Migrationwatch UK’s report seems to be is ‘we can’t prove anything’. After all, you’ve got all this mass of economic data, and the best you can do is say ‘this number has gone up, and so has this one, therefore while we can’t prove they’re related it would be implausible to say that they’re not’.
It’s the sort of nonsense economics that sadly too many people in politics, of the left and right, pursue in a desperate attempt to squeeze the facts into long-ago decided political positions.
Youth unemployment is far too serious an issue to leave to amateur outfits like Migrationwatch UK and if it’s not them blaming immigrants it’s other right-wingers blaming the Minimum Wage. Just like the 50p tax rate will be opposed and numerous reasons sought, immigration and the Minimum Wage will also be opposed with various reasons that will change as each one is disproven. Meanwhile young people will remain unemployed.
The bottom line of the Migrationwatch UK report is that they haven’t been able to prove anything, despite their best attempts to do so.