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As detailed in the post Creating a clear structure 1, the structure of a text is extremely important in academic English writing because of its reader orientation. The previous post also describes two key methods for structuring texts in English: signpost language and topic sentences.

This post provides a concrete example of these methods using a text from the Oxford Review of Economic Policy. This particular text has been chosen deliberately to emphasize that these techniques are used at the highest levels. It is an excellent example of a paper structured in academic English style.

Sample text

yellow highlighted text = topic sentences; often the introduction does not have a clear topic sentence as its first sentence should capture the reader’s interest before introducing the topic and providing the context

bold text = signpost language

Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Volume 24, Number 3, 2008, pp.560–580

The fiscal impact of immigration on the advanced economies


Robert Rowthorn

I. Introduction

Many advanced economies have experienced an upsurge in immigration over the past 40 years. The scale of this inflow has led to popular unease about its long-run implications. It has also stimulated a debate about the costs and benefits of immigration for local taxpayers. In this debate, those who are worried about immigration have tended to emphasize its negative implications, such as welfare dependency among certain types of immigrant, especially those from poorer countries. Conversely, the supporters of immigration have stressed its positive implications, such as the tax revenue from highly skilled immigrants. Alongside the popular debate there has arisen an academic literature that seeks to provide a more objective and balanced assessment of the issues.

The purpose of this paper is to summarize this literature and to explore some of its main themes. The structure of the paper is as follows. First, there is a discussion of the demographic issues that play an important role in the debate over immigration. This is followed by a section on some of the measurement issues that are involved in estimating the fiscal impact of immigration. There is then a survey of the international evidence, mostly from Europe and America, regarding the fiscal contribution of immigration. This is followed by separate sections on the UK and on the fiscal impact of immigration on low-fertility countries. The paper concludes with a short summary.

II. Demographic issues
(i) Age-structure
The age-structure of advanced economies is changing under the impact of lower birth rates and longer life expectancy. The proportion of older people in the population is rising and the fiscal cost of supporting them is increasing. In principle, immigration can alleviate these effects by helping to rejuvenate the population and providing additional workers to generate tax revenue to finance pensions and welfare services for the elderly. Immigrants are typically rather young and the immediate effect of immigration is to increase the working-age population and thereby widen the potential tax-base. Immigration may also have an indirect effect on the age structure through its impact on the birth rate. Immigrants are mostly of child-bearing age and many of them come from cultures where families are relatively large. This is a major fact behind the recent increase in the UK birth rate. Provided the immigrants and their descendants can obtain employment without displacing local workers, their impact on the age structure is likely to benefit government finances.

The rejuvenating effect of a one-off injection of immigrants will normally fade in the course of time. Some of the immigrants will leave. Others…


Pamela Cotte

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