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sábado, junho 25, 2016

Brexit, European divergence and the demographic tsunami

The economic divergence in the European Union is so serious,  with winners and losers growing apart, that the risks of unsustainability is severe.  

Resultado de imagem para brexitListening to the post-voting commentary from UK , many voters seemed to be voting "against migration".  One interviewee said that migration was supposed to happen only "over there in the Mediterranean", not on the British side of the English channel!.  Britain was never a member of the Schengan (passport free zone), but they have a dynamic labor market which has been pulling migrants in, from the rest of Europe and further away (pulll factors).  Add push factors like persecution and civil wars and nothing will keep migrants from leaving home and seeking better locations. 

The (British) voters may need to brush up on demographic statistics:  With as many as 5.5 children per (mostly poor) families on the south side of " the Med", and as litlle as 1.5 children per (mostly rich) families on the north side of "the Med", you don't need to be a demographer to know that  migration WILL happen. Trying to stop migration flows in these circumstances is like trying to hold back a TSUNAMI. 

Trying to manage population flows in the XXI century is an illusion, giving the instantaneous info.  Do you know there are apps for migrants to download to their smartphones to guide them through the maze?   For example, some refugees received in Portugal recently actually  left Mangualde to join relatives in northern Europe within the month.  Why stay in a country with 13% unemployment and a "safety net" full of holes?  

But the critical underlying issue may be  the persistent divergence between the economic  winners and losers from European integration and globablization, among and within countries.  It seems that exit vote was stronger in working class districts.   Small countries like Portugal can be steamrolled, but big democratic countries like the UK have other means of defense by turning the decision over to the voters.  A real lesson in practical  democracy. 

Another critical issue may be the return of the border walls and the raising of the barriers in and around Europe, and the desperation to escape the persecution in the countries of origin.  Of course, the refugees of 1940 were different,  but for many of the refugees today the existential threat is as serious today as it was then.   

Can we  see a parallels between the raising of the walls in 2016  versus 1936 or 1939? 

For Portugal, we are a net exporter of (economic) migrants and Portuguese workers were already suffering effective discrimination in the UK (restricted access to Social Security).  Some recent Portuguese emigrants may need to come back, pushing unemployment in Portugal up again.  

There is a Portuguese saying for every occasion: For this one:  "Em casa onde não há pão, todos ralham e ninguem tem razão."  In a home without bread, everyone argues and  and no one is right.