In case you haven’t had enough reports lately, here are two really fascinating ones. One that got lots of press when it came out last week (including useful summaries from The BBC and The Guardian) and one that got approximately none at all a couple of weeks earlier. The first, The Barker Review, is about housing policy. It’s a proper, grown-up piece of economic analysis (and hence unquestionably naive and unpolitical) from a top Bank of England adviser but the message is simple: we need to build lots more homes in Britain and we need to get on with it. This is the kind of thing that gets the Today Programme and The Daily Mail steamed up, hence the press coverage.
The second, The local labour market effects of immigration in the UK, is probably even more important in the long run. It’s from deep within the Home Office’s Research Development Statistics department and its conclusion is understated but dramatic: “The perception that immigrants take away jobs from the existing population, thus contributing to large increases in unemployment, or that immigrants depress wages of existing workers, do not find confirmation in the analysis of data laid out in this report.” In the design of a rational future immigration policy, credible statistical analysis like this is going to be vital. Whether its conclusions can be made politically palatable or not is another matter.
The Barker Review of Housing Supply. Delivering stability: securing our future housing needs. HM Treasury, 17 March 2004. The local labour market effects of immigration in the UK (PDF), Home Office, 6 March 2004. The Home Office link is from Kenan Malik’s weblog.