Whilst Germany and France are welcoming thousands of refugees, citing the moral issue of the current refugee crisis, David Cameron has resisted taking in any more refugees.
Britain has taken more than 20,000 Syrian refugees in last 5 years under serious political and public pressure, and it may be quite costly for Britain to take any more refugees given our current demographical spread, whereas the demographics of Germany seem to allow Angela Merkel to take more.
According to European Commission’s Ageing Report, between 2013 and 2060, Germany’s workforce is expected to get smaller whilst Britain’s is expected to grow significantly. In this period, Germany’s population is forecasted to fall to 71 million from the current 81 million. Britain, however, is projected to get to 80 million from its current 64 million. Germany’s population is falling fast whereas Britain’s is growing fast.
There is another important factor that makes it even more difficult for Mr Cameron to take more refugees- the dependency ratio in Britain. The ratio is rising more rapidly in Germany than in Britain. The ratio of pensioners to working citizens in Germany is set to be 59%. That means the taxes of slightly more than one citizen may have to support two retired citizens (obviously we can all assume this to be tempered somewhat by private pensions and savings). As the dependency ratio in Germany is expected to increase, Angela Merkel can easily let more and more refugees in to work hard for their livelihood to keep the dependency ratio as low as possible.
Germany, Italy and many western European countries can easily afford to take more refugees but for Britain it’s not equally easy and can prove costly in the long run. There are lots of calculations involved in these decisions. Under serious political and public pressure, Britain may still have to take more refugees, but how well Mr Cameron handles the proceedings is the thing to see and indeed keep an eye on.
The arguments of falling workforce and increasing dependency ratio in Germany cast some real doubts on the moral positioning of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Why is she so interested to help refugees from Syria and other Middle East countries but reluctant to help Greece, where many are committing suicide amid German-mandated asceticism?
If you are a realist and know the current and forecast demographics of Germany, you can very easily conclude whether it is a moral duty or just an empty sentiment by Germany and France, because decisions in international politics are mostly made based on facts and figures than on simple moral grounds.