Unpopular immigration boom helps Britain to face aging problem

Wed Dec 3, 2014 5:10am EST
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By William Schomberg

(Reuters) - Moroccan-born comedian Gad Elmaleh and Belgian singer Stromae are virtually unknown to the British public. But in London they play to sell-out crowds at top venues - one sign of how rising immigration is changing Britain's population and economy.

    For Clementine Bunel, a French concert promoter who moved to London to tap into its young and fast-growing international market, it's also a demonstration of how the borders between Britain and the rest of the world are blurring.

    "For some artists, London is like playing the big cities in France," she said.

The surge in workers attracted to Britain's growing economy brings advantages beyond just box office receipts: It gives financial breathing space lacking in other European countries which are all confronting the cost of aging populations.

Unlike Germany, where the population looks set to start shrinking in the next few years, the number of people living in Britain is likely to rise over the coming decades, helped also by immigrants' higher birth rates once they arrive.

In 2080, Britain's population looks set to pass 85 million against about 64 million in 2013, the EU's statistics office Eurostat estimates.

That population growth will help Britain overtake Germany as Europe's biggest economy as soon as 2030, according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research, a forecasting firm.

It also means that the ratio of people aged 65 or over to those aged 15-64 will rise more slowly than in Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Poland in the coming decades, helping it cope with the cost of caring for the elderly.   Continued...

A supporter is seen wearing a United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) badge before meeting the leader of the party Nigel Farage, at a campaign event in South Ockendon, Essex in this May 23, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett/Files