Opinion: Mass immigration cause of demand for housing

Herbert Grubel on the impact of immigration on the Vancouver housing market (overall immigration not just the wealthy).

While I agree with his characterization of many of the interest groups supporting continued high levels of immigration, his reference to the “silent majority” is left undefined: is it code for ‘old-stock’ Canadians or a more inclusive concept that includes many second generation new Canadians who face similar affordability issues (see Chinese real estate investors are reshaping the market):

The other alternative is curtailing mass immigration, which is the responsibility of the federal government. Such curtailment will not take place since federal politicians are pressured to maintain present policies by the many beneficiaries of mass immigration: the construction industry, real estate agents, employers hiring immigrants to keep labour costs low and increase profits, retailers benefiting from increased sales, the owners of land and homes whose capital gains depend on high demand by immigrants, the members of the immigration industry (lawyers, consultants, providers of adjustment assistance, teachers of English as a second language and others who are paid by government to serve immigrants), members of immigrant communities wanting to increase their economic and political influence, and immigrants who want to have their parents and grand-parents join them.

There are also Canadians who enjoy more abstract benefits from mass immigration: socially conscious people who want to do good and get satisfaction from seeing immigrants escape poverty in their home countries, and making Canada a globally admired multicultural society. Politicians whose re-election chances are increased by catering to these do-gooders and who, ironically, gain status and self-esteem by designing and financing at taxpayers’ expense policies for the assistance of those suffering from the high costs of housing.

Because of the politics surrounding building rules and immigration policies, Vancouver’s young will continue to suffer from the high and increasing costs of housing. Many will leave Vancouver. Some will live in the basement of their parents’ home or share accommodations with others, postponing and often forgoing marriage and having children.

However, eventually the silent majority of Vancouverites who do not benefit from mass immigration may vote for changes in federal policies. This will happen once this silent majority becomes aware of the negative effects on their own well being caused by mass immigration: fiscal deficits resulting in higher taxes; lower wages and incomes per person; traffic congestion, pollution, scarcity of family physicians, hospital beds and university places and diminishing returns from multiculturalism.

Source: Opinion: Mass immigration cause of demand for housing | Vancouver Sun

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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