Driving on dipped headlines

1656.jpgDecember 2009 | By Rafael Puyol, Professor at IE Business School and president of IE University

Immigration and an ageing population are both issues that need to placed under the spotlight, but switching on that light is proving difficult in the current economic situation.

In times of crisis people find it difficult to drive on full beam, to analyse things calmly and in perspective, with the attention to detail required for important matters. Take the two things that will have the greatest impact on our future: ageing and immigration, currently being tackled using dipped headlights, providing a view of only short-term effects rather than mid and long term results.

The short-term considers the matter of immigration as if it involved only two opposite standpoints, namely whether it should be permitted or not. And, as things are not going well for anyone, the balance of the dilemma leans towards those who are against, those who uphold the need for strict controls and the return of foreigners to their countries of origin. However, the approach to immigration cannot be based exclusively on the present situation. It is important to look at the future evolution of population and the labour market to realise that more immigrants will be necessary in the future. Hence, the question is not whether or not we should have immigration, but rather, since it is very necessary, in knowing how many immigrants we are going to need and what type.