Home' Policy Magazine : Policy Vol 30 - No 1 Contents DOES SIZE MATTER? AN ECONOMIC PERSPECTIVE ON THE POPULATION DEBATE
12 POLICY • Vol. 30 No. 1 • Autumn 2014
36 Alberto Alesina and Enrico Spolaore, e Size of Nations
(Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005), chapter 10.
37 Arnold Kling and Nick Schultz, From Poverty to Prosperity:
Intangible Assets, Hidden Liabilities, and the Lasting
Triumph Over Scarcity, (New York: Encounter
38 Economists refer to this tendency of environmental
outcomes to worsen and then improve as the
‘environmental Kuznets curve.’
39 Tis applies even more strongly given that prospective
migrants to Australia do not have a zero carbon footprint
in their country of origin. For a useful discussion
of population and climate change, see Barry Brook,
'Climate Change Implications of a Large Australian
Population,’ in Jonathan Pincus and Graeme Hugo
(eds), A Greater Australia: Population, Policies and
Governance, as above, 104–112.
40 One study found that under plausible scenarios for
population growth, water availability would not be an
issue in major Australian cities over the period to 2100.
Alaric Maude, ‘A Century of Debate About Population
and the Environment: Key Issues,’ in Jonathan Pincus
and Graeme Hugo (eds), A Greater Australia: Population,
Policies and Governance, as above, 26–33.
41 To test this theory, I used World Bank data for the
period 1960–2005, and analysed the relationship
between the change in a nation's polity democracy score
and its population. I found no statistically signi cant
relationship, regardless of whether I used the log of the
1960 population, the change in log population from 1960
to 2005, or the change in log population controlling for
the starting level of log GDP per capita. Coefcients were
in most cases close to zero.
42 See Andrew Leigh, Disconnected (Sydney: UNSW Press,
2010), chapter 9; Andrew Leigh, ‘Trust, Inequality, and
Ethnic Heterogeneity,’ Economic Record 82:258 (2006).
43 OECD Family Database, ‘CO3.6: Percentage of
Immigrant Children and eir Educational Outcomes'
(Paris: OECD, 2012).
44 Julian Simon noted: ‘It is your mind that matters
economically, as much or more than your mouth or
hands. In the long run, the most important economic
e ect of population size and growth is the contribution
of additional people to our stock of useful knowledge.
And this contribution is large enough in the long run to
overcome all the economic costs of population growth,'
quoted in Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, e
Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a
Time of Brilliant Technologies (WW Norton & Company,
45 Stephen Kirchner, Hands, Mouths and Minds: Three
Perspectives on Population Growth and Living Standards,
Policy Monograph 123 (Sydney: Te Centre for Independent
46 In a 2006 study, the Productivity Commission found
that skilled migration reduced the wages of professional
by 7%, and increased the wages of tradespeople and
labourers by 4% and 3%, respectively. Productivity
Commission, Economic Impacts of Migration and
Population Growth (Canberra: 2006). While the
magnitude of these figures strikes me as implausibly
high, the direction of the efect seems to accord with
what one would expect. Another study estimates the
efect of migration on low-skill wages across 21 countries,
and nds that the Australian migration program has the
second-largest positive efect on low-skill wages: Frédéric
Docquier, Çağlar Özden, and Giovanni Peri, ‘Te Wage
Efects of Immigration and Emigration,’ National Bureau
of Economic Research Working Paper 16646 (Cambridge,
MA: NBER, 2010).
47 Productivity Commission, ‘Submission to the Taskforce
on the Sustainable Population Strategy for Australia'
(Canberra: 2011), 24.
48 In her frst major speech as prime minister, Julia Gillard
outlined her views on population size and asylum seeker
policy. See Julia Gillard, ‘Moving Australia forward’
(Lowy Institute, 6 July 2010).
49 Andrew Markus argues that the asylum seeker debate
was responsible for a modest drop in support for
immigration. See Andrew Markus, ‘Immigration and
Public Opinion’ in Jonathan Pincus and Graeme Hugo
(eds), A Greater Australia: Population, Policies and
Governance, as above, 114–133.
50 Simply dividing the total ‘Settlement Services for Migrants
and Refugees' budget by the number of humanitarian
arrivals produces an average cost of resettling a refugee
around $30,000. However, the marginal cost is likely
to be lower.
51 United Nations High Commission on Refugees, UNHCR
Mid-Year Trends 2013 (Geneva: UNHCR), 6.
52 United Nations High Commission on Refugees, UNHCR
Global Trends 2012 (Geneva: UNHCR), 19 (I use the 2013
mid-year report for stocks, but the 2012 annual report for
fows, because half-year data is likely to be more volatile).
53 Utilitarian reasoning is also referred to as consequentialist
reasoning. Common examples that highlight the
distinction include the starving family example
(if stealing bread from a large store would prevent a
poor family from starving, a utilitarian/consequentialist
might allow it, but a categoricalist would argue that
stealing was always wrong) and the Anne Frank example
(if the Nazis knock on the door and ask if any Jewish
people are in the house, a categoricalist might feel bound
to tell the truth, while a utilitarian/consequentialist would
lie because it served the greater good).
54 This point was articulately made by Craig Emerson
discussing refugee politics with Kim Huynh on ‘Emmo
Forum’ (18 January 2014), episode 14.
55 Quoted in Nicola Roxon, ‘Ministerial Statements:
20th Anniversary of the Mabo Native Title Decision,’
Hansard (House of Representatives, 31 May 2012).
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