the observer Sun 15 February 2009
The recent disputes around the Lindsey oil refinery have set the debate over immigration into sharp relief. Legrain's book makes a timely case for the benefits of migration and crisply counters the views of its prominent critics. He rebuts David Goodhart's claim that immigration might undermine political support for the welfare state by pointing out that Goodhart's "star witnesses" do not, in fact, support his assertions. Sweden, with its large welfare state, is not ethnically homogeneous: one in eight citizens is foreign-born. America's less generous system is not chiefly due to its sizable racial minorities, but to its potent individualist ideology. Legrain is able to communicate complex ideas through impressively chiselled prose.