The Swiss vote for immigration curbs: how much immigration is possible without a backlash?

by on February 10, 2014 at 7:38 am in Current Affairs, Law | Permalink

Here is the news:

A narrow majority of voters in Switzerland on Sunday approved proposals that would reintroduce restrictions on the number of foreigners who are allowed to live and work in the country, a move that could have far-reaching implications for Switzerland’s relations with the European Union.

You will note:

Switzerland, which is not part of the European Union, has one of the highest proportions of foreigners in Europe, accounting for about 27 percent of the country’s population of about eight million.

In my view immigration has gone well for Switzerland, both economically and culturally, and I am sorry to see this happen, even apart from the fact that it may cause a crisis in their relations with the European Union.  That said, you can take 27% as a kind of benchmark for the limits of immigration in most or all of today’s wealthy countries.  I believe that as you approach a number in that range, you get a backlash.

That number will be higher when there is a frontier or a shortage of labor.  Those conditions do not generally hold in today’s wealthy countries.  Adam Ozimek reproduces data on immigration as a flow and stock relative to citizens, and as a stock Switzerland was third highest in the world with Luxembourg at over 32% and Israel over 27%.  I would say Israel does not count as their flows are largely a religious/ethnic unification from the former Soviet Union, in part with the purpose of protecting them against other potential population flows, to put it diplomatically.

The United States is 12th on the list with 12.1% foreign-born.  Referring to the flow of immigrants, Adam notes:

Instead of 1 million immigrants a year, these numbers suggest we could be letting in as many as 3 million a year and we would still not rank in the top 5.

And there I think you have the relevant range for what a more liberal immigration policy would look like or could look like.  I wonder by the way if for some reason small countries have an easier time swallowing high levels of migration, politically or culturally speaking, than do big countries.  That’s counterintuitive, but it’s what Adam’s tables seem to be suggesting.  (Is it because the small country is more culturally unified and thus somehow more secure?)  If you look at the top twelve countries in terms of receiving a flow of immigrants, only Spain is significantly above the 20 million population mark, with countries such as Iceland, Ireland, and New Zealand prominent (and I suspect a more recent measurement would boot Spain off this list altogether).  That would narrow the range of potential immigration increases even further for the United States.

One of my objections to the open borders idea is that I think it would be negative for sustainable, actually realized flows of immigration.

Addendum: Here is the distribution of voting across Switzerland, the Italian section was most anti-immigrant.  Here is Rachman on why the Swiss should not be punished.  Here is an excellent detailed analysis by Dennis MacShane.  Overall I see this as a broader political earthquake which will spread throughout Europe.

Alex Godofsky February 10, 2014 at 7:46 am

I wonder by the way if for some reason small countries have an easier time swallowing high levels of migration, politically or culturally speaking, than do big countries. That’s counterintuitive, but it’s what Adam’s tables seem to be suggesting. (Is it because the small country is more culturally unified and thus somehow more secure?)

How about a bigger country can more easily balance labor demand with internal migration?

(Not That) Bill O'Reilly February 10, 2014 at 9:12 am

That, and smaller countries need a much lower level of absolute immigration in order to take on a high proportion of foreign-born residents, which creates a selection issue. If Switzerland takes in the same number of top-flight migrants from MENA as do Germany and the United States, the latter two countries have to reach further down the ladder to bring in a similar proportion.

Hostile Elite vs Gullible Europeans February 10, 2014 at 9:03 pm

Nonsense. This is a declaration of war against White people. Why do hostile elite defend Israel as a Jewish ethnostate with Jewish only immigration, but ravage White majority Europe/North America into a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural Gulag with non-White colonization?

The world is 93% non-White, only 7% White. But 3rd world colonizers are aggressively advancing their agenda to annihilate gullible Whites, just as China annihilates Tibet.

How long will gullible Whites cuckold for murderous anti-White elite, who suppress our fertility, confiscate our guns, infiltrate/subvert our banks, indoctrinate White kids in academia/mass media, plunder White jobs/wages, & butcher White soldiers in bankrupting wars?

“Native” Americans invaded from East Asia. Yellow & Brown races committed 10-times more genocide, slavery, imperialism than Whites. Since Old-Testament, Whites have been victims of Jewish/Crypto-Jewish, Turkic, Muslim, N.African imperialism, slavery, genocide.

Gullible Whites should reject subversive ideologies- libertarianism, feminism, liberalism- & reject hostile slanders of racism. Peace to all humanity, but White people must organize to advance their interests, their fertility, their homelands. Spread this message. Reading list: goo.gl/iB777 , goo.gl/htyeq , amazon.com/dp/0759672229 , amazon.com/dp/1410792617

GMU February 11, 2014 at 4:05 pm

Who invited stormfront to MR?

leftist conservative February 11, 2014 at 8:14 am

small, western nations have more democracy, meaning the majority has better control of the nation. The majority wants less immigration. The elite (and their ideologically-controlled puppets in CorpGovMediaAcademia) want more immigration.

In small western nations like switz, denmark etc the white majority still has a great degree of control. Why? Those nations have smaller political voting districts. The smaller the district, the fewer the factions contained therein, in general. The fewer factions, the more unity, the more well-defined the common interests of the electorate. When the common interests are sharp and well defined, it is easier for the voters to elect and hold accountable their politicians that will represent them. This is called ‘democracy.’

Also, switz, denmark, and all the rest of the western nations have a form of parliamentarian governmental structure, in general. These western parliamentarian governments put the power of the govt into politicians elected from small districts (the lower house is dominant in parliamentarian govts, in general).

Small districts==fewer factions==more unity and well defined common interests == more democracy==less immigration == universal healthcare == progressive taxation == controllable war machine …and all the other things the USA has little of and that the other western nations have more of.

Small, parliamentarian and relatively homogeneous == more democracy == less immigration.

leftist conservative February 11, 2014 at 8:23 am

but here is the really fascinating aspect of the whole switz immigration public referendum vote: the whole american media and blogosphere is feverishly discussing this issue. But what is no one asking about or talking about? This: why can’t we have this sort of vote in america, at least at the state level? Why is it that with all these millions of words being written about this issue over the past few days that no one ever asks this question or makes this comment: “I sure wish americans could vote on immigration”. Or, “Why don’t we have this in america?”

Or some statement or question similar to that?
Out of all those discussions and articles being written about this, and no one (but me) is bringing up this topic.

Talk about a statistical anomaly!

We see ourselves as intelligently discussing this issue, but the fact is that the “discussion” is tightly constrained.

I will say it (and it makes me unique): I want each state to be able to have a similar vote on immigration and other important issues. I want congress to pass a law delegating such power to the states.

Ain’t I special? Out of all the thousands of people in the media, in blogs etc, I am the only person to be able to open up my mind and say things that are not prescribed by our Thought Leaders.

Millian February 10, 2014 at 7:52 am

Many of the countries on that list were EU member states, or participants in the free-movement treaties, during the sample period. That means they have free movement with many other countries, some of which are big and pay relatively low wages. Labour flows depend on wage gaps and perceived shortages. Gaps aren’t due to population size, and shortages aren’t perfectly correlated to population due to cyclical labour market effects. These mitigate the extent to which immigration is correlated to population – to test this theory, we’d expect to see bigger variance in % flows among small countries.

Rahul February 10, 2014 at 7:52 am

Analysis by pure numbers is misleading. e.g. Canadians migrating into a US city carries less backlash risk than Somalians.

prior_approval February 10, 2014 at 7:52 am

‘I would say Israel does not count as their flows are largely a religious/ethnic unification from the former Soviet Union’

With a fascinating history, as many of those ‘immigrants’ did not actually get to choose a country other than Israel -

‘Between 1968 and 1973, almost all Soviet Jewish emigres resettled in Israel. By 1975-1976, however, a near majority favored resettlement in the United States. While the government of Israel wanted all emigres to resettle in Israel, many American Jewish leaders supported “freedom of choice” — the right of Soviet Jewish emigres to choose their country of resettlement. In 1989, however, when Mikhail Gorbachev allowed free emigration for Soviet Jews and over 90 percent preferred to come to the United States, American Jewish leaders supported their government’s policy to limit the entry of Soviet Jews as political refugees. The following essay traces the evolution and abandonment of the policy of “freedom of choice” among American Jewish leaders.

———————————————

Even before the monthly dropout figure rose above 50 percent in March 1976, the situation alarmed the Israeli government. The Israelis and their supporters argued that Israel needed these highly skilled and well-educated potential immigrants for its survival. They could make an important contribution to Israel’s economic development and help in the demographic struggle between a declining Jewish majority and very fertile Arab minority.

While many American Jewish leaders sided with the Israelis on the issue of need, a few did not. Jim Rice, Executive Director of the Chicago Federation, represented a position supported, often not publicly, by some Jewish professionals and lay leaders. American Jewry, he argued, also had a case for demanding a maximum number of Soviet Jews because of past American restrictive immigration policies had kept out Jewish immigrants.

In addition, the Israelis and many of their supporters emphasized that Israel offered the best opportunity for the re-immersion of Soviet Jews into Jewish culture and a Jewish way of life. They assumed that many Soviet Jews going to the United States would assimilate and be lost to the Jewish people.

The Israelis initially blamed HIAS and JDC for “stealing” Soviet Jews by directing them to the United States. The Israelis argued that fewer persons would have dropped out if it weren’t for requests by American Jews to admit more Soviet Jews and resettlement assistance from American Jewish organizations.

In the confrontation over dropouts, all parties assumed that most Soviet Jewish emigres would prefer to settle in Israel. Understated was a position articulated later by Gitelman, Salitan, and others that most emigres after 1973 preferred the United States with its perceived greater economic opportunities. Gitelman suggests that those Soviet Jews with stronger Jewish identities from the Baltics, Moldavia, and Georgia went to Israel, while more assimilated Jews from the Soviet heartland preferred the West. Most Soviet Jewish Zionists who only wanted to immigrate to Israel had done so by 1973. The overwhelming majority leaving after 1973 were motivated more by economic betterment than by Zionist ideology. They saw Israel as a very small market with fewer opportunities.’ http://cis.org/RefugeeResettlement-SovietJewry

Bill Harshaw February 10, 2014 at 7:53 am

With four official languages Switzerland doesn’t seem culturally unified. Then again, it’s got a long history so who knows, maybe language differences aren’t cultural markers?

Cyrus February 10, 2014 at 10:28 am

Centuries of resistance to and independence from a succession of external hegemons is a pretty good cultural marker.

nickik February 11, 2014 at 5:19 am

Hi, I’m from Switzerland. Its kind of hard to say what unified means, with a very strong tradition of federalism there never was a forced unification of law and language.

Its very hard to force a part of Switzerland to adopt a law, take woman voting as a example. The most backwards part of Switzerland only adopted it in 1991. Not because they wanted to, but because they where forced by the state (it was declared unconstitutional).

So I don’t think Switzerland is unified as other country’s but it is unified in the believe that the way we do it is right. There is unification on the idea of how government should be run and other foreign policy things.

collin February 10, 2014 at 7:57 am

I wonder by the way if for some reason small countries have an easier time swallowing high levels of migration, politically or culturally speaking, than do big countries. That’s counterintuitive, but it’s what Adam’s tables seem to be suggesting. (Is it because the small country is more culturally unified and thus somehow more secure?)

1) The same reason why the US percent due to trade is relatively low. Smaller nations need more trade and possibly more immigrants.

2) Europe has a lot intra-European migration here. Somebody moves from France to Germany and that is immigration. California to Texas is simply migration.

3) Self-Selection bias here. There are a lot more smaller nations as there is a greater range. I would not be surprised smaller nations dominate the bottom of the list as well.

4) The US has had a relatively high birth rate compared to other developed nations. Basically the Singapore Solution that high immigration helps your cheap labor shortage.

Tarrou February 10, 2014 at 8:33 am

Well, the cultural shift is arriving. We’ve been told that opposition to immigration is racist and beyond the pale of political conversation for years. People are starting to not buy it. No one has a right to go to another country and demand citizenship and benefits. The sooner we lay this abject stupidity to rest, the sooner we can have the real debate, which is how much immigration, from where and under what circumstances is to the benefit of the host nation.

I’m glad the swiss have overcome the white liberal guilt, though I suspect they will find it in their best interest to relax this restriction somewhat.

CBBB February 10, 2014 at 8:49 am

Yes, I used to be very much in the pro-immigration camp before but now even I have drifted towards the other side. Although I do not go along with these stories of immigrants stealing benefits and what not. Perhaps for selfish reasons I am especially against the bringing in of the sort of highly educated immigrants that are particularly favoured on the econ blogosphere.

Tarrou February 10, 2014 at 9:20 am

Oh, I’m pro-immigration, but the discussion must always be about the good of the host nation and its citizens. And there must practically always be some limits on immigration, and these should be enforced. If the argument is that (for instance, in the States) that we should increase the number of visas we grant to Mexicans, I support that. If the argument is that any Mexican who crosses the border gets free citizenship and we have no right to deport them, ever, then I disagree most strongly. I think that some level of immigration is good, and that level is higher than what we legally allow now. But I have no patience for those who advocate lawlessness and unregulated open borders. I may believe in limited government, but there is no political belief short of anarchy that denies a government the right to regulate its own borders.

Brenton February 10, 2014 at 4:02 pm

No political belief? What about Caplan Utilitarianism? :)

prior_approval February 10, 2014 at 8:51 am

Well, let’s lool at a breakdown of those Swiss ‘immigrant’ demographics –

‘Permanent residents by nationality, in 2011:

* Italian: 287,99

* German: 275,300

* Portuguese: 223,667

* Serbian: 109,254

* French: 99,910

* Turkish: 71,367

* Kosovan: 69,641

* Spanish: 65,775

* Macedonian: 60,741

* British: 39,377

Using the Steve Sailer designation of ‘ethnic Catholics’ as a measurement stick, I can certainly see why the Swiss are worried about being swamped by easily 3/4 of a million of them.

However, considering that most of the Swiss foreign residents are white, and more than 600,000 of them speak a Swiss language as their own mother tongue, I think it takes a lot of projecting to write something like this – ‘We’ve been told that opposition to immigration is racist and beyond the pale of political conversation for years.’

The Swiss are being overrun by white people – think about it. Except strangely, the Swiss don’t see it that way – they think they are being swamped by non-Swiss. Or, to make the point even more blunt, swamped by ethnic Catholics.

This is going to be another one of those fantastic comment threads which MR produces so regularly.

Tarrou February 10, 2014 at 9:14 am

And you make some hilarious assumptions there, that language and skin color eliminate cultural differences. I mean, the Irish were white and spoke English, so there couldn’t have been any nativist sentiment against them ever, right?

prior_approval February 10, 2014 at 9:29 am

Well, except to WASPs in the American Northeast in the mid-1800s, the Irish were clearly a different race.

It is not anyone’s fault that assumptions keep changing – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Irish_sentiment#19th_century

Tarrou February 10, 2014 at 10:01 am

I’m not sure I’m even taking your point. Race is a pretty fluid idea. I claim that immigration and race are linked in the current debates, and you claim that….no, because the immigrants to Switzerland are German and Italian? I’m speaking more generally, but even so, I’m not getting whatever you might be trying to get at. Thesis mate, what is your thesis?

P February 10, 2014 at 10:33 am

The Irish were a different ethnicity, not a different race, assuming we use today’s definitions. The idea that some white, European peoples used to be considered non-white in the US is an easily refuted scholarly fiction: http://entitledtoanopinion.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/pathetic-that-this-even-has-to-be-pointed-out/

prior_approval February 10, 2014 at 12:30 pm

Well, two for one –

‘I claim that immigration and race are linked in the current debates’

But not in Switzerland, which was the point of the post.

‘The Irish were a different ethnicity, not a different race, assuming we use today’s definitions.’

So, when we say that when a speaker in Victorian times used the word ‘race’ when referring to Celts, and contrasting them to the more noble race of Anglo-Saxons, they were actually intending to say something more in line with human biodiversity political correctness?

P February 10, 2014 at 2:36 pm

What is “human biodiversity political correctness”?

If some group was recognized as white by law and custom, it of course did not necessarily entail that it was considered to be as good as the noble Anglo-Saxons. Quoting from my previous link:

Contrary to the arguments of many whiteness studies historians and the social scientists who have drawn on their work, we contend that wherever white was a meaningful category, [Southern and Eastern Europeans] were almost always included within it, even if they were simultaneously positioned below [Northern and Western Europeans].

TGGP February 12, 2014 at 8:41 pm

To add another tidbit from the paper discussed at my blog, a long time ago people often used the word “race” in reference to categories that we would today delineate with “ethnicity”. But people of many different European “races” would still be lumped together as being of white “color” (closer to modern use of “race”). Whiteness had a very important role, it was both legally codified and had important social consequences. Mexicans were more of a gray area, in that they sometimes counted as white and sometimes didn’t, with Platonic categories having trouble with the fact that some were plainly white while others weren’t.

Ted M February 10, 2014 at 10:39 am

With all due respect, I’m not sure I get the point – Italian regions were the most anti-immigration and they’re also quite Catholic. In fact, in general, there doesn’t seem to be much relationship between religion and the vote – see Tyler’s link on the voting distribution and this religious distribution map of Switzerland from 2008: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Karte_Religionen_der_Schweiz_2008.png

prior_approval February 10, 2014 at 12:55 pm

Steve Sailer, a brilliant exponent of just what human diversity does best when presenting themselves in public, attempted to enlighten the readers here about older American colonists, such as those from Ireland, being different than the current crop of ‘ethnic Catholics’ flooding through America’s borders.

A cynical person would think that Sailer was just looking for some way to draw a distinction without provoking the basic response to what his beliefs encompass.

But I have far too much respect for a founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute to believe that he was simply engaging in sloppy thinking while attempting to avoid using any term that his critics could use to demonstrate the type of thinker he is.

Instead, his definition of ‘ethnic Catholic’ explains so clearly why we need to treat human biodiverity with all the gravity their deep insights demand.

By letting everyone share in Sailer’s way of viewing the world. Such as talking about how the Irish were real Americans of the highest order, unlike today’s ‘ethnic Catholics’ – do let that sink in for a moment. Those human biodiversity sorts are truly creative in how they classify groups of people.

So I am certain that Sailer will have an equal depth of insight in this case, and would undoubtedly appreciate another public airing of his analysis being applied in another case of immigrants causing problems. Like what is going on in Switzerland – look at that list, and the thing that leaps out is just how many of them are ‘ethnic Catholics.’ No wonder, just like in today’s U.S., the Swiss are up in arms. Nothing racist about it, Sailer would insist – it is just that those ‘ethnic Catholics’ are not compatible with Western civilization.

Steve Sailer February 10, 2014 at 4:05 pm

The Sailers were German-speaking Swiss Catholics over the last 700 years. But don’t worry, Prior-Approval has some complicated theory about what I must really mean that I although I can’t quite follow it no doubt make lots of sense.

Anyway, Switzerland is an unlikely country: four national languages, but peaceful, prosperous, democratic, and stable. Not surprisingly, the Swiss tend to worry about change for the sake of change possibly disrupting the nice thing they’ve got going.

For example, it’s traditional demographics were nicely balanced: for example, while the majority is German speaking, a lot of German speakers are Catholics like the majority of the French speakers, while some Genevan French are Protestants. The Italians are few in number, but quite prosperous. Much of the government is pushed down to the canton level and the cantons are mostly monolingual.

Moreover, the Swiss work hard to impose a national consciousness on these disparate groups, such as the national sport of rifle shooting (i.e., practicing to kill invaders). The Swiss don’t want to be Belgium, with it’s endlessly divided governments, terrible Olympic performances, and tendency of bigger countries like Britain to fight their battles in Belgium (e.g., Waterloo, Somme).

So, a large scale immigration even of French MBAs, German chemists, and Italian designers might threaten the delicate balances within the country.

ziel February 10, 2014 at 8:35 am

The effective benchmark is probably much lower than 27%. In 2007, 8.5% of the population (and about a third of the immigration population) hailed from Germany, Italy, France, and Austria – i.e., of the same ethnicities that make up Switzerland – I’d imagine they wouldn’t count in terms of backlash.

Rahul February 10, 2014 at 8:52 am

That’s the funny part. As far as I remember what precipitated the backlash circa 2010-2011 were the new rules of within-EU migration & most of the resentment seemed against the wave of Germans & Italians that followed. I never understood that bit.

affenkopf February 10, 2014 at 8:54 am

Italians and Germans are the two biggest immigrant groups in Switzerland so it seems natural that these groups would cause the most resentment.

Rahul February 10, 2014 at 9:03 am

Indeed. But it weakens the ethnicity explanations. This was very much a pure economic backlash against labor market competition.

affenkopf February 10, 2014 at 9:04 am

There’s also a cultural component. German and Swiss German culture are very different.

Someone from the other side February 10, 2014 at 10:54 am

(Very irritated) Swiss here.

affenkopf is right, it’s a lot more about culture (and perceived overpopulation) than actual labor market competition. Just look at the unemployment rate.

Steve Sailer February 10, 2014 at 4:07 pm

Switzerland is probably the most famously beautiful country in the world. Of course they will resist a big surge in population: it’s not East Texas.

firionel February 10, 2014 at 8:52 am

You’ve never been to Switzerland, have you?

One thing is clear: They absolutely do count.

affenkopf February 10, 2014 at 8:53 am

They might count less but they very much do count (there have been plenty of stories in the German media about the backlash against German immigration to Switzerland).

Brian Donohue February 10, 2014 at 9:19 am

OK, am I the only one who did a double-take over ‘Germans concerned about treatment of countrymen in neighboring states.’?

8 February 10, 2014 at 9:41 am

The ethnic argument has always been a red herring because it is very easy to find examples all over the world, from Latin America, Africa and Asia, of people of the same exact ethnic group getting angry about large numbers of foreigners moving in. such as Hong Kong against Mainland Chinese. Singaporeans have protested against immigration. Australia would ban immigration if it were up for a national referendum. If it were possible, New Hampshire would ban Massholes and most of the Western states would catch Californians at the border and ship them back to the land of fruits and nuts.

It’s always been about different people with different cultures coming in and changing things, and the idea that the change is always positive is absurd, especially when there’s no control for selecting immigrants. Even consider net migration within the U.S., stupid people leave California and the Northeast to escape high taxes, and then they start demanding government services in their new states and try to enact new taxes or raise tax rates.

Al February 10, 2014 at 12:04 pm

thank you. i think there’s a lot to this argument, and it is usually obscured by accusations of racism.

Mr. Econotarian February 10, 2014 at 12:53 pm

“OK, am I the only one who did a double-take over ‘Germans concerned about treatment of countrymen in neighboring states.’?”

Yep – that has never been a good thing (“Sudeten Crisis” for example)

Johann February 10, 2014 at 10:17 am

They only thing I am not sure about is who hates the Germans more: the Swiss Germans or the Austrians? Other than that, German immigration into both it’s smaller neighboring countries creates hostilities everywhere. And economically, the costs are huge. Whole towns in Eastern Germany are now deserted and a lot of value in housing is lost while at the same time rents in Bern or Vienna skyrocket and the daily commute becomes a pain. What for? The Japanese show that you do not only need immigration, you can be very well off without it.

Someone from the other side February 10, 2014 at 10:56 am

As for the Japanese being well off, I must be looking at different stats than you do.

Swiss Germans probably hate them more. It’s partially a language related inferiority complex that does not apply to Austrians nearly as much, as an illustration: German TV would sub-title Swiss German but not the Austrian dialects.

prior_approval February 10, 2014 at 12:16 pm

Yep, the language aspect for Swiss Germans is complex, with a real trend away from considering Hochdeutsch proper, and Switzerdeutsch inferior among younger Swiss.

On the other hand, Baden-Württemberg had a major advertising campaign polishing its image, with the slogan ‘We can do everything, except [speak] Hochdeutsch’ (“Wir können alles. Außer Hochdeutsch.”) There are definitely regional nuances.

Southern Germans along the Rhine don’t have much problem with Switzerdeutsch (dialects are more complex, but then Alemannisch is not exactly easy to understand either – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alemannic_German ), and nobody ‘translates’ or subtitles Switzerdeutsch.

Someone from the other side February 10, 2014 at 3:14 pm

Look, I usually consider you to be one of the saner voices on this blog (especially when it comes to comments on Europe) but here you are simply wrong. I have more often than not seen 3sat subtitle Swiss German segments (back when I could still be bothered to watch TV).

Regarding Baden-Würtemberg, as far as I am concerned, I would very much welcome them applying to be the 27th canton of Switzerland. Same story for Vorarlberg, BTW. I might even consider Bayern (where some of the more rural dialects are damn near ununderstandable, BTW). It is largely the Germans from farther up North who are generating resentments, not the Southern ones.

Steve Sailer February 10, 2014 at 7:14 pm

“As for the Japanese being well off, I must be looking at different stats than you do.”

And the Japanese appreciate you taking those stats on faith, rather than looking at, say, how they dress.

nickik February 11, 2014 at 5:31 am

I’m from Switzerland and this hold sub-title thing is funny, however I would not assume to much. The facts are simple, the germans just don’t understand swiss-german, at least not as first. I say this as a swiss person living in germany.

The germans do understand austrians much better, its much, much easier.

Why the never just ask the swiss person to speak high german is really strang. Most people can speak it pretty well, a lot without a acent. But they still rather subtitle it, dont know why.

Someone from the other side February 11, 2014 at 8:31 am

I always thought it was because a lot of times, they simply recycle existing footage so cannot ask them to talk German instead…

Rahul February 10, 2014 at 11:25 am

I very much doubt the Swiss aspire to be another Japan.

Someone from the other side February 10, 2014 at 3:15 pm

We don’t.

Also we neither make any cars nor much in the line of overpriced consumer electronics.

JWatts February 10, 2014 at 7:35 pm

“Also we neither make any cars nor much in the line of overpriced consumer electronics.”

And yet the Japanese do well selling “overpriced” consumer electronics, just as the Germans do well selling “overpriced” cars. Some would say that Switzerland does well off of “overpriced” banking and “overpriced” watches.

Someone from the other side February 11, 2014 at 2:33 am

Doing well selling overpriced consumer electronics? Sony just got down-rated to junk bond status, Sharp is almost bankrupt (to the level where they agree to investments from Foxconn, which means something given the Japanese view of all things Chinese) and I can’t remember the last time I seen any of Matsushita’s brands on a shelf….

As for the overpriced banking, that is not going too well right now. Overpriced watches and pharma, that still works fine :)

Rahul February 11, 2014 at 4:54 am

Overpriced pharma will keep on working just fine. I don’t see the US nor EU rushing to liberalize their drug import regime just yet.

Engineer February 10, 2014 at 8:38 am

From the FT article: Other European countries do not have this precise vulnerability because they do not have a tradition of direct democracy.

Those lucky oligarchs, those poor Swiss elected officials ….

When will those great unwashed learn to shut up and obey ??

I sure hope that Barack and Hilary succeed in their plans to use the IRS, early voting, and immigration to eliminate “direct democracy” in the US.

CBBB February 10, 2014 at 9:38 am

When will those great unwashed learn to shut up and obey ??

Soon enough I imagine. Most of them have already.

8 February 10, 2014 at 9:43 am

That or they start attacking immigrants and politicians in the streets. See Greece.

Millian February 10, 2014 at 8:49 am

“Dennis Mc” is in fact Denis MacShane, former Labour MP and Minister for Europe. The gap between his recent blogposts is for a rather embarrassing reason. Still, the analysis is sound.

buddyglass February 10, 2014 at 8:55 am

Comparing Ozimek’s “inflow” stats vs. the Wiki page on U.S. immigration Ozimek’s don’t appear to take into account undocumented immigration. Can anyone comment on whether his “stock” stats suffer the same problem?

JWatts February 10, 2014 at 7:37 pm

+1 million, his stats are for ‘legal’ immigration. So, he’s understating immigration into the US by at least a factor of two.

The Anti-Gnostic February 10, 2014 at 8:59 am

how much immigration is possible without a backlash?

Lots, when you have an entire Cathedral that mandates equal treatment and endlessly reminds everyone how horrible and stupid they are for not allowing high-rise apartments on every square foot of available space.

Also, of course this is all framed in terms of “backlash.” In the Cathedral’s calculation, corporations exist but nations do not, and people are interchangeable cogs.

The more important question is how much immigration is possible before the traits which made the host society desirable to begin with are lost? I think that percentage is probably quite low, particularly for K-selected societies importing r-selected societies. My hunch, and it’s just a hunch, around 5%/yr immigrants assimilate. Around 10%/yr they gravitate to certain areas and leverage their presence. The natives start withdrawing. Above 10%/yr, the immigrants want their own country. Sure, they may speak the language and adopt some superficial norms, but at that point it’s not about assimilation but transformation.

The natives, lacking anywhere to withdraw, start shutting down.

Brenton February 10, 2014 at 4:06 pm

No, lets not allow high rise apartments. Lets just keep the status quo, with our population growth requiring the development of suburbs 50 miles from city centers. It’s working so well currently isn’t it?

Steve Sailer February 10, 2014 at 5:27 pm

Switzerland would look much better if it were transformed into the set from Blade Runner. If you don’t believe me, just ask Matthew Yglesias or Ed Glaeser. Admit it: unless you grew up in barn, all those cows are just creepy. And those peasants with pitchforks …

farmer February 10, 2014 at 9:02 am

People in this thread really do not understand switzerland.

“In 2007, 8.5% of the population (and about a third of the immigration population) hailed from Germany, Italy, France, and Austria – i.e., of the same ethnicities that make up Switzerland ”

Switzerland is a loose confederation of somewhat mutually antagonistic cohorts. It’s much more subtle than in places like Belgium, but I don’t think a Italian speaking Swiss person sees advantage in the addition of francophone immigration

affenkopf February 10, 2014 at 9:10 am

More importantly: A Italian speaking Swiss person sees no advantage in Italian-speaking immigration. Italians are the biggest immigrant group in Switzerland and the Italian-speaking regions were the most anti-immigrant. German-/French/Italian-Swiss aren’t just Germans/French/Italians that happen to live in Switzerland.

prior_approval February 10, 2014 at 9:21 am

They certainly aren’t, but the Basel region tends to be a bit more entwined. An American comparison would be upstate NY and Canada. Different places, different histories, different cultures – but not that much, in the end.

Someone from the other side February 10, 2014 at 11:06 am

It bears saying that the Italian part is the only region who can (somewhat) legitimately complain about wage pressure from Italian immigrants. Of course, in reality, a lot of them commute across the border which enables them to subsist on drastically lower salaries due to lower cost of living in Italy. Not unlike like the situation in Singapore with Johor Bahru, BTW.

Steve Sailer February 10, 2014 at 4:14 pm

The Swiss put much value on what I call Citizenism.

Here in the U.S., Marco Rubio and Luis Gutierrez are celebrated in the media for agitating for more Hispanic immigration. In 21st Century America, race/ethnic loyalty is held to trump ties of citizenship (unless the race is white and the ethnicity is pre-Ellis Island). But a Swiss Italian is expected to value the welfare of his fellow Swiss citizens more highly than his fellow Italian co-ethnics. And they do.

prior_approval February 10, 2014 at 9:18 am

Well, time to note that I work with a German who ‘immigrated’ to Switzerland (he spends one week out of four working in Germany – the rest of the time he does that modern ‘telecommuting’ thing), while another colleague’s son has been working a couple of years as a cook in Switzerland. My wife’s cousin also worked as a furniture designer for several years back in the early 90s, and in general, the entire Basel region is currently in shock at what this vote means. It is big news on SWR, and I’m sure it is equally major in France and Switzerland.

As was pointed out by Foreign Minister Steinmeier in the second report on the 3pm news, Switzerland does more business with Baden-Württemberg alone than with the United States. And do note just how many Germans are Swiss residents.

Basically, the Swiss have just voted that they reject the framework which the EU represents. They are likely to discover that the EU feels no obligation to continue to permit Switzerland to retain the narrow economic benefits of participating in a broad system which it rejects. The EU is not only about free trade in goods, it is about free movement of people. 4 of the 5 top ‘immigrant’ nationalities in Switzerland are from the EU, and of the top 10, more than a million are EU citizens.

The Swiss, representing a non-EU nation, have every right to not want to be involved in the EU. It will come with a bill, something that the voters were likely not considering. As noted in this article –

‘The Swiss government faces enacting immigration curbs that threaten to upset ties to the European Union and hurt the economy following a popular vote yesterday demanding limits on foreign workers.

Almost 12 years after opening borders to EU expatriates, Swiss citizens recoiled, backing an initiative to impose limits on immigration. The measure, which doesn’t specify how high those quotas should be, passed by fewer than 20,000 ballots in a national vote yesterday. The government has three years to impose new rules, which will primarily affect workers from the EU, many of them highly qualified.

Immigration has supported economic growth in Switzerland, which is surrounded by EU countries without being a member itself and is the home of Nestle SA (NESN), the world’s biggest food company, and drugmakers Roche Holding AG (ROG) and Novartis AG. (NOVN) The decision, due to popular discontent about scarce housing, transport bottlenecks and falling blue-collar wages, could undermine the economy by making it difficult to take on foreigners and sour relations with the EU, the top destination for Swiss exports, the government warned.

Direct Democracy in the Home of Nestle and Novartis

“The quick population growth led to anxiety about social change, and people felt Switzerland was losing its identity,” said Michael Hermann, senior lecturer at the University of Zurich. “It’s a protest vote, and an expression of skepticism,” he said, adding that the EU “will take a hard line” as the immigration issue “has now been raised to a symbolics level.”

———————-

“Clearly this vote didn’t set the right tone for the start of negotiations on an inter-institutional accord that will govern relations between the EU and Switzerland,” European Commission spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde-Hansen told reporters in Brussels today. The specific ramifications of the Swiss vote “will be discussed with the member states,” she said.’ http://www.businessweek.com/news/2014-02-09/swiss-brace-for-sour-eu-relations-after-anti-immigration-vote

And do note this – ‘About 20 percent of Swiss residents are foreigners and 45 percent of employees in the country’s chemical, pharmaceutical and biotech industry aren’t Swiss.’

Das February 10, 2014 at 10:55 am

Mimimi! Those Swiss meanies don’t like us anymore!

prior_approval February 10, 2014 at 12:04 pm

In the Basel region, it is all about business – nobody cares about who likes who, as long as the invoices are paid.

Which is why a couple of companies you might have heard of are very, very concerned – like the world’s largest pharmaceutical company.

Joe Teicher February 10, 2014 at 1:57 pm

>Which is why a couple of companies you might have heard of are very, very concerned – like the world’s largest pharmaceutical company.

Why does Pfizer care?

DK February 10, 2014 at 10:43 pm

Because Pfizer, like all big pharmas and tech, loves hiring Third World foreigners because they drive everyone’s wages down.

Rahul February 10, 2014 at 11:56 pm

@DK

If you want to call Germany and France “third-world”, sure. Pharma doesn’t exactly run on low cost Mexican janitors & Filipino babysitters.

I have 2012 Novartis data & the foreign employee sources are: Germany (23 %), France (19 %), UK (5 %) and Italy (4 %).

Guess which “third world” nation supplies the largest non-EU employee fraction? USA.

Steve Sailer February 10, 2014 at 4:19 pm

Of course, since 1992 the EU has been busy letting in low wage countries like Bulgaria and Romania, with all their Roma (who tend to be Negative Marginal Product “workers”), and now seems to be gesturing toward eventually letting in 45 million Ukrainians.

prior_approval February 10, 2014 at 9:36 am

And much like eurogeddon, this is the sort of statement that will be accurate at some point – ‘Overall I see this as a broader political earthquake which will spread throughout Europe.’

The idea that this is about Switzerland, a non-EU country, not wanting to commit to EU project of creating free movement of good and people throughout the EU, is unlikely to create much an earthquake which will spread.

The Swiss aren’t part of the EU, and they are, by an extremely narrow margin, saying they don’t want to be part of what the EU represents.

This is about a small nation deciding it wants to remain apart – as if anyone would find that something surprising in terms of Switzerland. Who only joined the UN in 2002 –

‘Switzerland finally joined the United Nations in 2002. The country took a long time to warm to the idea, with three-quarters of voters rejecting membership in 1986.

This reluctance despite the fact that the European headquarters of the UN is located in Geneva, along with a host of UN special agencies.

When, on March 3, 2002, the Swiss were again called upon to vote on joining the world body, the decision turned out to be quite close. Just 55 per cent were in favour of joining. But it was still a significant change in direction compared with the referendum on the issue in 1986′ http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/politics/Moving_towards_the_UN_in_slow_motion.html?cid=291972

Das February 10, 2014 at 10:51 am

If there was was a poll about wether the Swiss “want to be part of what the EU represents” the result would be a landslide against the EU.

But this poll was just about an apsect of immigration policy which will now be renegotiated, and either the Swiss will have to compromise elsewhere or the EU will compromise less. Nothing more, nothing less.

There is no reason for any butthurtness as shown right now by some EU politicians. This was not the Swiss showing the EU the finger, this was the Swiss refusing an arrangement which – in theory – would allow *all* 500 million Europeans to move there. In practice the number coming was of course not 500 mio but still much higher that what Swiss politicians and EU regulators assumed and told the Swiss populace when that arrangement was struck.

prior_approval February 10, 2014 at 11:59 am

You might want to read that Businessweek article, which notes this –

‘Companies are concerned about a return to a decades-old system under which they had to file for permission with the government for each new foreign employee. A clause in Switzerland’s package of agreements with the EU means that the one on immigration cannot be canceled without rendering the others null and void too. The pacts touch on topics such as electricity and the environment.

The vote “has far-reaching consequences,” Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga said yesterday. “There is no way of judging how negotiations with the EU will develop.”’

In this region, for example, the Swiss may just find any sympathy for having their international flights spend time over southern Germany has utterly evaporated – not that there was all that much to start with, as the Swiss were perfectly content to have the planes heading to Zürich not disturb Swiss citizens, by keeping the aircraft in German airspace as long as possible, and by not flying over Swiss territory except for landing if at all possible.

Someone from the other side February 10, 2014 at 3:18 pm

Conversely, we might further limit German trucks driving to Italy and vice-versa (or tax the hell out of it [1]). Things are nowhere near as clear cut as you make them out.

[1] I frankly fail to understand why that is not yet done, anyhow.

nickik February 11, 2014 at 5:38 am

One here has to note that the german airspace is over thinly populated countryside while the swiss airspace is right over the most densely populated big city. So it makes scene, I think it calls for a Coasian solution but nobody seams to consider that.

Someone from the other side February 10, 2014 at 3:34 pm

In fairness, the EU runs a trade surplus with Switzerland (to be expected, we depend on imports for food and basic materials, and less relevant to the EU, energy) and considering that most economies are not doing that well I do have some doubts they will want to ruin that

http://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/countries-and-regions/countries/switzerland/

Steve Sailer February 10, 2014 at 9:49 pm

For half a decade, the political winds have been blowing against mass immigration everywhere it becomes an important issue: Australia, Norway, etc. In the U.S., however, the Establishment has such a lockdown on thinking about immigration policy that each new example comes as a surprise.

yo February 10, 2014 at 10:07 am

Perhaps Lake Geneva real estate will become affordable again.

Das February 10, 2014 at 10:43 am

The problem with most discussions of immigration in all countries is the irrelevant dichotomy immigrant-nonimmigrant.
Your remarks on Isreal hint in the right direction. It is neither the absolute nor the relative number of immigrants, it is the relative number of easy-to-integrate versus not-easy-to-integrate immigrants that decides how well an immigration policy works.
Switzerland and Liechtenstein can only afford this high a number because most of their immigrants are from prosperous or at least culturally compatible countries.
To put this in US terms: Imagine a million Canadians versus one million Mexicans versus one million Libyans coming to the US per annum. Or make it 10 million. My guess would be that the results, in everyday ilfe as well as economic and political would be vastly different.

JWatts February 10, 2014 at 7:42 pm

That sounds like a valid point.

But one might put it a different way and say that high skilled immigrants are much more valuable than low skilled immigrants.

Z February 10, 2014 at 11:15 am

I agree with Tyler. Immigration has gone well in Switzerland. It is a shame the Swiss have decided they don’t want to be replaced by foreigners and will now limit immigration. The nerve of them.

Steve Sailer February 10, 2014 at 5:30 pm

And, you’ll notice, not only are the Swiss having second thoughts about Invite the World, they haven’t been shouldering their burden of Invade the World. I say we get Victoria Nuland and the rest of the Kagans to send in the National Endowment of Democracy to pay for a Color Revolution to bring democracy to Switzerland.

If that doesn’t work, let the drone strikes begin.

nickik February 11, 2014 at 5:44 am

Well. I voted against this. Look the Swiss economy is growing and there is huge demand for high skilled laber. Immigration has been good economy and despite what the right wing says it had very little cultural impact.

If the germans were not so bad at speaking swiss german (the seam completely unable to learn it even if the lived here for years) nobody would even know the difference. Because of this you tend to hear a lot of high german now days, and this real pisses of a lot of people.

Other then that from a cultural stand point the war in Yugoslavia had a much greater impact then the current EU immigration.

So its good economically and at least not bad culturally so yes, the nerve of these people.

Art Deco February 10, 2014 at 11:34 am

Good for them. Now the other abused populations of Europe should follow.

Ray Lopez on Xenophobia February 10, 2014 at 11:40 am

The litmus test for racism and open borders is simple: would you date, screw or marry the ‘other’? I am Caucasian and date Asian. I sometimes fantasize about African but have never followed through. Unless you can honestly say you would do as I do, then you are a foul, bigoted and closed minded little racist, not much removed from our own Steve Sailor. Yep yep yep. And don’t try and deny it with talk about diversity and some such nonsense. The litmus test, as I said. Do you pass the test? Since 90% of you essentially marry or date your mother or father, then clearly not. And that’s one reason trading of services will always be inefficient. Goods can cross borders but keep the iggars out, ain’t that right boy?

Z February 10, 2014 at 11:46 am

I have a different test. My test is if you are named Ray Lopez, you are a racist. And don’t try and deny it with talk about diversity and some such nonsense. The litmus test, as I said. Do you pass the test?

Brian Donohue February 10, 2014 at 12:01 pm

Ray, two of the most unrepentant bigots I know have no problem- indeed, an impressive history- of dating ‘the other’.

Also, do you use similar criteria to define homophobes?

Ray Lopez on Xenophobia February 10, 2014 at 1:24 pm

@BD – I think they made a movie called “Monster’s Ball” about this “dating other” thing. As for homophobes, I would draw the line at sleeping with them, but I would say that you have to accept them as family, along the lines of that weird uncle at the family reunion everybody whispers about.

ricardo February 10, 2014 at 1:32 pm

I certainly would never sleep with a homophobe.

Milo Minderbinder February 10, 2014 at 1:58 pm

Does this mean that all asexuals are racists?

Someone from the other side February 10, 2014 at 3:21 pm

Open borders and interracial dating are not closely linked. Come to think of it, one might more likelyargue that a guy wanting to marry someone from another country would prefer closed borders because that would increase the value of his citizenship.

Steve Sailer February 10, 2014 at 4:21 pm

Right. Philander Rodman Jr. (Dennis Rodman’s dad) has 26 children in the Philippines because, in part, all those local ladies can’t get into the U.S., so he’s the next best thing.

Steve Sailer February 10, 2014 at 4:41 pm

So, Ray Lopez, why are you wasting all this time on blogs instead of living up to the swordsman example set for you by Philander Rodman Jr.?

Ray Lopez February 10, 2014 at 6:46 pm

Steve you should be aware I am posting from a small town south of Manila, and have read about Sir Rodman Jr. (they routinely here call all men “Sir” and women “Madam”, cute in a quaint way). I have a 20 year old girlfriend at the moment. I do want kids but not 26.

Ray Lopez February 10, 2014 at 6:46 pm

I mean “Sir Dennis” (first names are “Sir”), not “Sir Rodman”, sorry my bad.

JWatts February 10, 2014 at 7:45 pm

“I have a 20 year old girlfriend at the moment.”

I think that might make you Presidential material. Can you fake empathy?

Someone from the other side February 11, 2014 at 2:37 am

That would mean living in the Philippines for an extended amount of time. As much as I like the place for vacation, living there seems like a decidedly bad idea to me.

Tarrou February 11, 2014 at 9:04 am

What an insipid opinion. One need look no further than the racial makeup of ex-slaves to realize that your litmus test absolves slave-owners of racism. So bully on you for dating across racial and cultural boundaries, you rebel you. In fact, I would argue sex and relationships is the worst area to predict racial bigotry, what with the very common dominance/submission element to sexual attraction. But you keep telling yourself you’ve proved your “purity”, etc. etc. Breathtakingly idiotic.

Al February 10, 2014 at 12:12 pm

After reading over the comments here, it seems that the Swiss situation, and the proposed rough 27% threshold, etc, have such limited applicability to other places and people as to be almost meaningless. Switzerland is unique. So are the US, Israel, Austria, Singapore, etc There’s only so much we can apply from this example.

Govco February 10, 2014 at 1:39 pm

A key maxim for economists is ceteris paribus, which is why I find its practitioners so fascinating. Economists seem blind to differences when they theorize about the aggregate, but differences blind lawyers to any aggregate, one-size-fits theory.

(Stereotypes, true scotsmen, etc., natch).

Steve Sailer February 10, 2014 at 4:22 pm

In 21st century economics, ceteris paribus doesn’t apply to thinking about immigration, because 21st century economists don’t actually think about immigration, they just emote in a socially approved manner.

John February 10, 2014 at 1:14 pm

That said, you can take 27% as a kind of benchmark for the limits of immigration in most or all of today’s wealthy countries. I believe that as you approach a number in that range, you get a backlash.

27% is not a good “benchmark” for the limits of immigration because the “benchmark” will vary according to the racial, ethnic, cultural background of the immigrants. A native Swiss person walking down the street past a German immigrant or some other European immigrant would not even be able to tell that he or she is an immigrant. This is not the case with immigrants from a more different ethnicity or from a different race. They are immediately recognizable. The “backlash” threshold will be higher for immigrants from more similar backgrounds if only because they’re less noticeable hence less immediately palpable to natives that immigration is even taking place.

Furthermore the State curbs the freedom of natives to express “backlash” both on an individual and group level against immigration, and thus 27% or any other such “benchmark” obtained from many contemporary States is misleading.

Axa February 10, 2014 at 1:43 pm

The map is quite interesting. The canton of Geneva has the highest immigrant population, in theory they should be suffering all the inconveniences from immigration. Somehow, over there the proposal got less than 45% support.

If you look at the the map, the line between orange and green is precisely the language line. In orange you find Gèneve, Vaud, Neuchâtel, Fribourg, Jura and Valais, AKA: la Suisse Romande. Zurich and Zug were the german speaking outlier cantons that didn’t approve the proposal against mass immigration. Zug has the lowest taxes in Switzerland.

Tessin, ahhhh Tessin are just the crazy ones that voted last year against burkas even if they’ve never seen a woman in burka in the street. The rest of Switzerland quickly spent a few Francs in a marketing campaing to make clear to all islam following tourists that the rest of Switzerland was not like that. The borders was open to the average arab tourist that spends 2.3 times more than the european tourist.

Also, as a very irritated Swiss guy pointed, the UDC proposal was not about perceived competition in the labor market or lazy immigrants living on unemployment benefits. Come on, 3% unemployment. The UDC proposal became popular from two problems. Perceived overpopulation in the flavor of full trains, highway bottlenecks, perceived difficulty to find an apartment to rent, new (last 10 years) building development that menaces the traditional landscape. And the second one are the refugees. There’s always a war around the world, so there’s a non-stop flux of refugees. You name it, the Balkans war, Iraq, Syria, Africa, etc. Problem is, refugees do not have a work permit; they are kept in a refugee camp just waiting for the end of war at home. It’s a cliché, but these guys are hired by high profile drug dealers to do the retail work. They are not popular at all among the Swiss people.

In conclusion it is not about work competition or political fear since foreign permanent residents can not vote on federal referendums. So, it’s the concern of being culturally overrun and spoiling their beautiful landscape by urban sprawl. Some people thinks 8 million people is enough for the land. Also, if French immigrants (at least in public) preferred the Gruyère over the Camenbert, things would be more easy.

Ps, Basel airport is in France. The original agreement was France puts the land, Basel pays for the airport. Kind of weird that the Swiss payed for an airport in France because they had no land to build it and nowadays tell French people “it’s full, don’t come”.

Rahul February 10, 2014 at 2:49 pm

Isn’t that what they call the Rösti line? :)

I agree with the refugee aspect but trying to solve that specific class of immigrant problem with this is a bit like hunting a mouse with the proverbial cannon. No?

Someone from the other side February 10, 2014 at 3:28 pm

It is. Actually, in German it’s called Röstigraben which we might translate to Rösti-trench (and a lot of trench warfare there is, indeed).

As for Axa, a lot of truth there. In fact, there is a clear reverse correlation between the share of immigrants in a region and the share of yes votes. Based on anecdotal evidence, I’d also venture a guess that a similar reverse correlation holds between IQ/education and yes votes, but that one is harder to prove without very detailed polling.

As for the refugee aspect, that barely ever surfaced in the campaigns. After all, per definitions, refugees won’t be EU citizens, not even the UDC stooped down to that level (they were otherwise quite engaged in related fear mongering, though).

Rahul February 10, 2014 at 4:03 pm

Just an anecdote but in 2011 I was in a Zurich hotel & the young guy manning the desk was German. Guy used to do the same job in Freiburg just an hour or so away. He had moved a few months back and claimed he was making about twice as much money. Said it’d be stupid to not move and a lot of his co-workers were too.

Was ironic to hear it what with the anti-immigration ads going up all around the town around the same time.

Steve Sailer February 10, 2014 at 4:43 pm

Right. It’s completely irrational for Swiss citizens to vote to, in effect, get higher wages from prosperous companies by not allowing unlimited competition for jobs from foreigners.

Paolo February 10, 2014 at 5:05 pm

You are forgetting how small Switzerland is. Nearly the entire country is in commuting distance of the main centres Zurich, Basel, Geneva, or the secondary centres St.Gallen, Winterthur, Berne, Lausanne, Lugano, Neuenburg.

That Yes vote regions are where people are living who were pushed ever further away from the centres due to huge rise in housing costs. A lot of those rural-semi rural areas have had very high population growth rates in the last 10 years due to the influx of commuters looking for affordable housing space. Both the expansion of the rail net and the real estate price inflation in the centres have been big drivers of this trend.

The yes vote in those regions are both disgruntled commuters unhappy with being priced out of the centres and locals unhappy with the flood outsiders.

As to the No vote of the centres, that’s no surprise. How can afford to live in the centres these days? Either people living in (subsidised) social housing or people earning enough to pay 4000+ CHF in rent or a million+ CHF to buy a flat. The first group aren’t really feeling the price pressure and tend to follow the Social Party and Union paroles, while the latter by definition belong to the winners of the current situation who can afford to pay those prices.

Steve Sailer February 10, 2014 at 5:45 pm

Thanks. Excellent analysis.

ohwilleke February 10, 2014 at 6:25 pm

The high immigrant percentage-high support for immigration pattern has more to do with a “present company excluded” dynamic in social manners. It simply doesn’t work to have an ideology of outraged against your neighbors who are also your co-workers and the parents of your children’s friends. It’s rude and decent people stamp out that kind of rudeness. It is the same reason that the best gauge of sympathy politically with gay rights is knowing someone who is openly gay, lesbian or transsexual.

Someone from the boonies may encounter immigrants, but don’t personally know them and can live lives that don’t include them.

Someone from the other side February 11, 2014 at 2:43 am

You will be paying 1m+ for a flat in any halfway desirable location, anyway. And you pretty much did so even before the Bilateral treaties. The price increases since may well be related more to extremely low interest mortgages rather than immigration. And then there is the pesky fact that per capita housing space has doubled over the past 30 years, requiring A LOT more housing stock than any immigration.

Paolo February 11, 2014 at 4:17 pm

10 years ago, 1m+ bought you a 3 bedroom flat in a top location. These days 1+m buys you a 2 bedroom flat in a medium to good location.

m2 per person has been more or less flat since early 2000.

Price inflation also has to do with the lower interest rates, but the building craze is due to demand for more flats to house the increasing population numbers.

This is also confirmed in the first post-vote real estate analysis. According to UBS, projected housing need growth was about 50’000 units per year, for an immigration of 80’000. Again according to UBS projected need for an immigration of 40-50’000 is about 20′-30’000 Units.

Obviously almost the entire housing stock expansion is almost exclusively for housing the immigration.

Axa February 11, 2014 at 4:41 am

The cantons that voted against immigration are the ones racing to the bottom in the low corporate taxes race. If they don’t like multinationals hiring foreign labor, they could just stop actively promoting it. Zug, in this case is also an outlier.

Paolo February 10, 2014 at 5:17 pm

3% unemployment on paper. This ignores both the ones which have been officially handed off to social welfare and the reality is that many people either have to accept wage cuts or are missing out on job and promotion opportunities due to the competition from younger and cheaper Europeans. The employers can afford to literally choose their “perfect” candidate and/or fire anybody anytime they feel like it.

The 3% number masks a lot of cut throat job competition. This goes hand in hand with firms increasingly unwilling to invest in training in house people and more willing to cut anybody above 50 or so loose. The latter due to Social Security contributions taking a steep hike once you reach that age.

All in all, the education, housing, infrastructure and social security systems of Switzerland are/were ill equipped to handle the influx they’ve seen the last 10 years or so. While in theory one could argue Switzerland could solve it’s problem by a comprehensive review and organisation of these issues, and it might be possible if it were China or Singapore, it’s also obvious that this would take too long and make necessary too many political sacrifices by too many interest groups to be really viable with the decentralised Swiss system.

So, instead immigration is scaled back to levels the system can support.

Rahul February 10, 2014 at 11:43 pm

Younger, cheaper and perhaps better Europeans? You make an employer’s hunting for the perfect candidate almost sound like a crime! And this in a nation where the support nets are so strong (perhaps the strongest in the world?) it’s not as if the guy losing a job is exactly starving or left to fend for his own.

jerseycityjoan February 11, 2014 at 1:17 am

But evidently the Swiss people feel that their country belongs to them. Not only that, they appear to be able and willing to put their needs first, above that of nonowners.

I wish to God we’d follow their example.

Wouldn’t you rather be a citizen-owner than a unit of labor with no rights in your own country?

jerseycityjoan February 11, 2014 at 1:21 am

Once the corporations and the elites have the whip-hand, their benefits will be cut and chopped.

Allowing corporations to run a country means the citizens lose, then lose some more, then even more. Look at the downhill speed race of averageAmericans losing more as speical interests get richer and more powerful.

The only solution is not to allow the unfair power grabs in the first place, or to take the power back.

We haven’t had major social unrest here for decades. People seem to believe it can’t happen here? But why not?

Paolo February 11, 2014 at 7:22 am

If the outside pool is big enough, the probability of the “ideal” candidate coming from there will over time automatically increase. What to do with the 99% people?

It’s not a crime, but there is a tradeoff. Does the benefit of allowing in the outside (hopefully) ideal candidate, with all follow on costs to the community, outweigh the benefit of the company hiring the insider who only fits 95% of the profile. Does it in the end actually matter?

If one knew who was better before hiring them, hiring decisions would be always or mostly optimal. I think one can agree this is often not the case. Hiring in the end is based on paper qualifications (leaving aside vastly different standards and practices), “hard” markers, like age etc., a big fudge factor and to a very significant degree, cost. After that it’s hoping for the best. In the end, I really doubt for the vast majority of jobs there’s a lot of difference between the top 10, let alone the top 5.

While from the companies point of view being able to pick is an optimal outcome, I don’t see many countries allowing unrestricted access of labour from a pool which is both many times larger and also much cheaper. The Swiss aren’t economically illiterate enough to believe the social net is not a cost factor nor economically efficiency minded enough to get rid of lowest decile of the population.

Rahul February 12, 2014 at 12:46 am

I see your argument. But I think often it’s not a trivial choice between hiring a worker & another a little worse. In practice, once you let the bureaucrats make their morass of rules, companies often struggle to just get the right workers.

I’ve seen this often in the highly technical sectors. Talent for specific skills is not exactly abundant nor fungible & the only guy you want & is willing for the job sits in Canada. You need him right away for the job but the paperwork means there’s a three month delay. He’s not willing to wait and neither can your project. Impacts on projects can be huge.

That’s the sort of stuff I’m speaking about. The devil is in the details. And in unintended side effects. The sad part is the discussion focuses on the cheap hotel worker or janitor but the real unseen economic casualty is the million dollar project crippled for want of one right engineer.

Someone from the other side February 11, 2014 at 2:49 am

The 3% number alright to be compared with other places, because every other number out there has similar (or worse) issues in the calculation.

The “let’s fire people above 50″ thing is wildly overstated (if anything, it is hard for those to find a job again and partially that’s because they have fairly unrealistic views about fair compensation). Competition for jobs is, if anything, less cut throat than in the rest of Europe (I know plenty of people who are actively LOOKING for qualified staff and largely just fail to fill positions which is hardly the case in msot of Europe – Germany excluded, perhaps).

nickik February 11, 2014 at 5:48 am

You are right, full trains are pretty much the biggest problem for many people now.

Also the EuroAirport (witch I use every couple of weeks) I think is in germany. Or at least I thought so.

Steve Sailer February 10, 2014 at 5:46 pm

By the way, you gotta get a load of Bryan Caplan’s comment:

http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2014/02/what_the_swiss.html

Art Deco February 10, 2014 at 7:34 pm

Since he’s been a public employee all his adult life, I don’t think they want him in Galt’s Gulch. One option for a destination for his arse might be Singapore, which is multi-racial, laden with people hustling for a buck, and has a stupefyingly low fertility rate.

ohwilleke February 10, 2014 at 6:08 pm

The case that there is some “tipping point” at which immigration triggers a backlash doesn’t hold up when you look at the data more closely.

The places in the U.S. that are most pro-immigration politically also tend to be the places with the most immigrants already. NYC, for example, is one of the epicenters of American immigration and is also mostly pro-immigration. Opposition to immigration is much strong in places where the absolute immigration percentage is much small, but the immigrant population is growing. Indeed, the best measure of a tipping point, if there is one, is probably the first derivative of immigrant percentage (on a percentage basis), rather than immigrant percentage itself. Even lots of new immigrants in absolute terms may not be much of a percentage change in immigrant percentage for them relative to a much smaller absolute number of new immigrants in a place like Georgia where the base number is so much smaller.

I would also suggest that cultural insecurity is a factor. One of the factors that drives xenophobia in the American South is the perception that Southern culture is already subordinate to a national, Northern, establishment culture, so the “protect the historic local culture antibody memes” are already sensitized – the notion of “heritage” plays well in the South because their cultural heritage is much more vulnerable to dilution by the establishment culture. Places that are a part of an establishment culture, in contrast, aren’t threatened in the same way by immigrants sharing some new culture that is a subordinate culture on day one.

jerseycityjoan February 11, 2014 at 12:13 am

I don’t think you can judge what people think based on what politicians support on this issue.

Certainly there’s plenty of long term Americans in the NYC area who have paid the costs of mass migration through higher taxes and higher rents and gotten little in return beyond an army of people who will deliver your lunch or dinner to your home or office. Diversity is nice but New York City has always been racially and ethnically diverse for decades.

There’s no doubt that New York is a gateway city and always will be. We’ve always received many kinds of benefits from that, but after so many years of elevated immigration levels (both illegal and legal), enough is enough. As so many people find their income stays or shrinks while their expenses go up and up, there will be a exodus of people in the vast middle, leaving the rich and the poor lucky enough to have subsidized housing unless we stop inundating ourselves with new people every year.

jerseycityjoan February 11, 2014 at 12:50 am

I should make it clear that when I say “enough is enough” I am referring to the elevated levels of immigration of recent decades.

That’s why I am 100% against the provisions in the Senate immigration bill of 2013 that would nearly double green cards and temporary work visas issued each year, from around 1,7 million to over 3 million.

James C February 10, 2014 at 6:14 pm

“In a sign of how anxious the Swiss population is about foreigners, another initiative, which would cap the immigration rate at 0.2 percent of the resident population, is in the pipeline.”

Considering how close the vote was on the EU proposal, its doubtful they will get the 50.1% on this one. But the final vote tally will be surprisingly high. Regardless, this will only further embolden member nations of the EU who want out.

prior_approval February 11, 2014 at 12:15 am

Or not, as noted by Reuters –

‘The European Commission has stopped talks with Switzerland on a cross-border electricity agreement, a spokeswoman for the EU executive said on Monday, following the country’s referendum vote to curtail immigration.

The Commission has been seeking closer power trading ties with Switzerland to complement a common energy market for the 28-strong European Union, which it has a deadline to complete this year.

But it said that talks with Bern about a scheme to make it easier to trade energy could not continue without wider political clarity.

“No technical negotiations on the electricity agreement between Switzerland and the EU are foreseen for the moment,” Commission spokeswoman Sabine Berger said. “The way forward needs to be analysed in view of the broader context of the bilateral relations.”

Separately, senior European officials said Switzerland could lose its privileged access to the European single market in general following the narrow vote in the referendum on Sunday.

Free movement of people and jobs within its borders is one of the fundamental policies of the EU, and Switzerland, while not a member of the bloc, has participated under a pact with Brussels.’

Again, the German Bundesland where I live has more trade with Switzerland than the U.S. does – and the breaking off these negotiations was the top item of the admittedly not exactly broadly listened to 5:30am news.

The Swiss are welcome to not agree to participate in tighter relations with the EU.

And as the Swiss are likely to discover, the EU will also be happy not to extend the benefits of the EU’s common market to them.

Want to guess who will feel the effects more?

Someone from the other side February 11, 2014 at 2:55 am

Last I looked Germany (and the EU) had a trade surplus with Switzerland, so yes, it is indeed not entirely clear who will feel it more, in the end.

Finally, for a lot of the trade in goods the single European market is not as critical, anyway, EFTA already covers a lot of that and the service trade is fairly hard to measure (and, at least in financial services, small to non-existent due to other market barriers).

prior_approval February 11, 2014 at 5:56 am

A work colleague’s son works in the Oberland (I’m not sure which one, to be honest) as a cook – in a region that definitely voted against immigration. The funny thing is, the main reason he is employed there is that he is paid less than a Swiss worker. The Swiss in the region do not like Germans (no real surprise – Germans living in the Elsass or along the Dutch border aren’t exactly loved either), but they also seem unaware of why he works there.

The reason he is employed is that Switzerland has a real problem attracting tourists, at least in terms of that old Preis-Leistungs-Verhältnis – cost cutting is the only hope many of those tourist related hotels and restaurants have of surviving. And attracting tourists from countries like Germany, of course. So the voters in the Oberland where he works have managed to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.

It is reasonable to assume that a region like Basel, with suburbs in both France and Germany, will pretty much do OK – the Dreiländereck has a fair amount in common, not that anyone will ever be confused in which country they are in.

However, it is quite possible that a lot of tourist based businesses that were barely surviving in the Oberland are now going to go out of business. And it is also quite likely that the people who voted against lower wage labor will be mystified why a closed hotel does not have any work for them.

We will see – Entfremdung is a real thing, and there is no doubt that Germans are not Swiss. Yet Basel seems to be able to handle the contrast, which is the only part of Switzerland I have any real experience of at all.

Paolo February 11, 2014 at 7:28 am

There’s no doubt that there’s a big oversupply in certain segments of the tourism industry. There’s no point in trying to preserve industries that can’t meet their marginal costs by subsidising them with cheap labour.

Axa February 11, 2014 at 7:34 am

There are like 400K workers with permit G or crossborder work permit. So, as you said regions like Basel, Genève or Schaffhausen, that are in the border should see no impact at all.

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