Recent U.S. immigration reform proposals have focused almost exclusively on regulating the population of low-skilled foreign workers. But the United States is increasingly falling behind other developed nations in science, technology, and economic growth. If the country is to remain competitive in the international economy, policymakers must make high-skilled immigration a priority.
High-Skilled Immigration in a Global Labor Market examines policies designed to attract and cultivate immigrants with exclusive skill sets--scientific, technical, engineering, and management (STEM) workers with advanced degrees, extensive technical training, and strong entrepreneurial skills. Because these workers are more likely than low-skilled immigrants to obtain high-salaried, full-time jobs, they tend to pay more in taxes than they receive in public benefits. Therefore, adding STEM workers to the labor force results in a positive net fiscal balance--in contrast to the negative fiscal impact of low-skilled immigration. High-skilled foreign workers also boost the U.S. economy by expanding production capability, increasing output per capita, and attracting foreign capital investments.
STEM workers are in high demand in today's international labor market. Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and many countries in Western Europe have adopted policies designed to attract and efficiently employ high-skilled workers. The United States, however, remains mired in legislative battles over family-based and low-skilled immigration. Barry R. Chiswick and his fellow contributors contend that U.S. policymakers must act now to add immigrant STEM workers to the American labor force--or risk falling behind in the global economy.
Barry R. Chiswick is an adjunct scholar at AEI.
Contributors: Barry R. Chiswick, Sarit Cohen-Goldner, Joseph P. Ferrie, Volker Grossmann, James F. Hollifield, Martin Kahanec, Pramod Khadka, Linda G. Lesky, B. Lindsay Lowell, James Ted McDonald, Paul W. Miller, David Stadelmann, Casey Warman, Yoram Weiss, Carole J. Wilson, Christopher Worswick, and Klaus F. Zimmermann