One of the most interesting things I did while at the Treasury was to help develop the program for the first G20 meeting in Australia, which was a workshop on Demographic Challenges and Migration, held in Sydney in August 2005, and chaired by my Executive Director, Dr Martin Parkinson. The workshop made it abundantly clear to me that the growing demographic imbalance in the world, between the developed economies, with slowly growing or declining populations, and the developing economies, with much faster growing populations, implied a huge win-win opportunity for greater labour mobility (see chart above).
In coming decades, the rich, developed economies face a shortage of workers, particularly taking into account the growing demand for carers associated with ageing populations, while developing economies will have a surplus of workers, who could fill jobs in developed economies and benefit their home nations through remittances and eventually knowledge transfer. This, of course, requires a more enlightened attitude and more liberal policy settings regarding international labour mobility and migration.
Hence, I welcomed the news I read in the Sunday-Mail this morning that the Commonwealth Government has asked the Productivity Commission to investigate the merits of boosting migration, permanent and temporary, to meet future labour needs, particularly in aged care, child care and disability care (see Importation of migrants considered for aged, child and disability care roles).
A high-level discussion of the issues relating to enhancing international labour mobility as a means of correcting demographic imbalances is contained in the summary note Treasury prepared on the G20 workshop in Sydney, a note I had a part in drafting: