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Wednesday, 7 March, 2001, 11:48 GMT
Immigrants 'could stem population fall'
British Asian businesswoman
British Asians are seen to have a culture of self-employment
Britain needs more immigrants to avoid a crisis caused by falling birth rates and an ageing population, a report suggests.

A study, called Jewels in the Crown, found that as life expectancy rises the need for a younger workforce will grow - and its author suggests immigration may be part of the solution.

Dr Vaughan Robinson
Vaughan Robinson: Immigration benefits Britain
Dr Vaughan Robinson, head of the Migration Unit at Swansea University, said: "Britain's ethnic minorities provide us with an opportunity rather than a problem."

Unless levels of immigration were increased by around 20%, the UK population would fall by three million by 2050, Dr Robinson's study into population trends suggested.

As a consequence Britons would need to work into their seventies to support the large number of elderly people and fund more of their own health and pension care, he said.

Dr Robinson said the younger age profile of ethnic minorities meant they were generally economically active and a viable solution to averting an economic crisis.

And he called for a shift in attitude towards recent and established immigrants in the UK urging Britons to change their perceptions of ethnic minorities.

Self-employment culture

The report also highlighted sectors of the economy, such as transport and health, which depend to a large extent on workers from minority ethnic groups.

And it said the successful culture of self-employment in the Asian communities had helped regenerate formerly depressed inner city areas.

About 67% of Bangladeshi entrepreneurs employed more than 25 workers, compared to 31% of white entrepreneurs, the study said.

The report was commissioned by international money transfer service, Moneygram.

Leon Isaacs of Moneygram welcomed the report as a long-needed contrast to the on-going political debate on immigration.

"Over the past 40 years ethnic minorities have established themselves as part of the fabric of British life.

"We should not under-estimate the vital role they can play in the helping to maintain the social infrastructure of the country in the 21st century," he said.

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10 Apr 00 | Scotland
Asylum-seekers policy under fire
02 Jul 99 | South Asia
Skilled immigrants 'create jobs'
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