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Discussion: (11 comments)

  1. Respectfully, I think that the AEI study presents its findings in a manner that is biased towards even greater immigration levels. For example, the study lists the fiscal impact of the average immigrant, the average immigrant with a bachelor degree, and the average immigrant with an advanced degree. It’s all positive! OK, but why wouldn’t you even mention the fiscal impact of the average immigrant WITHOUT a bachelor degree? I mean, there are 3 subcategories of immigrants by education level, so why would you only show data for 2 of the 3 subcategories, and ignore the third?

    1. Erik Kengaard

      “The three decades . . . from the mid forties to the mid seventies, were the golden age of manual labor.”
      * * *
      Why were times so good for blue collar workers? To some extent they were helped by the state of the world economy.
      * * *
      They were also helped by a scarcity of labor created by the severe immigration restrictions imposed by the Immigration Act of 1924.”
      Paul Krugman, Conscience of a Liberal, Chapter 3 (pages 48-49)

      “Bliss it was in that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven! And so it was for the young adults of the fifties, those fortunate ones born in the low birth rate era of the 1930s.” Wordsworth, the Prelude; Richard Easterlin, Birth and Fortune, Chapter 2

      “A small generation, presumably, would do well if it arrived on the labor market when demand was high. The catch here is unrestricted immigration.
      * * *
      . . . the bright prospects of a small cohort were swamped by competitors from abroad.” Richard Easterlin, Birth and Fortune, Chapter 2, page 33

  2. Hi Mr. Pethokoukis, I wonder if Mr. Matthews is inadvertently misrepresenting the analysis by Professor Borjas and Professor Katz.

    I looked at the table in the Borjas-Katz paper from which Mr. Matthews derived his “Borjas-Katz (2007) Style Estimate”. Mr. Matthews is using the “Long Term (Assuming Complete Elasticity of Capital)” numbers, and he is not comparing them to the “Counterfactual of no Mexican migration”.

    Professors Borjas and Katz seem to prefer the “Short-Term” table when describing what has actually happened between 1980 and 2000, and they prefer to compare to the counterfactual of no Mexican migration in order to isolate the effects of Mexican migration. I say this because in the text of their article, they note that their analysis shows a 7.7% decrease in wages for workers without high school diploma due to Mexican migration, NOT a 4.7% decrease as shown in Mr. Matthew’s table.

    Also, when describing Professor Borjas’s and Professor Katz’s findings, Mr. Matthews states that “[i]n the long run, the economy adjusts such that the overall effect is minimal”, but I find no such statement in the Borjas-Katz paper.

  3. 1775Concord

    Legal immigration favors (or used to) immigrants with those advanced degrees, welcomed them into this country. Apparently now there are “glitches” in the legal immigration process, with delays causing frustration.
    You don’t make a country better by importing low level workers.
    The effect of these workers has been documented by multiple papers, and it isn’t good for the US. I recall a book I read by Prof Vernon Briggs, now of Cornell, written in 1963, entitled “Chicanos and rural poverty.” I believe Prof Briggs has also testified several times before Congress in recent years re. taking away jobs from legal citizens.
    As noted in an above comment, what a paper says and what the author of an article claims it says can often be two different things.

  4. What bothers me about these studies is that it doesn’t prove causality. They lazily make the assumption that A results in B result without consideration for other variables.

  5. Sorry, but I want to dispute a couple more points in Mr. Matthews’s article.

    First, Professor Peri may have found that immigration increases wages for U.S. natives, but I don’t think Professor Cortes’s paper “confirmed his findings”. She found decreased prices for certain goods and services due to cheap immigrant labor, but she did NOT find that such price reductions led to net increases in real wages for unskilled American workers. (I’m not an economist, so if any of points here and above are wrong, then please correct me.) More later.

  6. Actually, I apologize to Mr. Matthews for something: I said that his table inadvertently misrepresents the Borjas-Katz paper, and I still think the table above is misleading, but the table is not Mr. Matthews’s, it’s from the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution.

    Mr. Matthews points out that immigration is good for immigrants. Fair enough, that’s why they come here.

    But now let’s assume for the sake of argument that immigrants never compete for jobs with Americans. In such a scenario, don’t the immigrants compete for jobs with EACH OTHER? And if that’s the case, then isn’t immigration bad for immigrants who are already here?

  7. Thomas Sullivan

    That’s nice. Now subtract something for the 6 million American citizens who are made unemployed because illegal aliens have taken their jobs – in farming, construction, factories, maintenance, custodial, lawn care, etc.

    1. When it comes to a job, I believe everyone is replaceable. There will always be competition no matter what field you work in. If you choose to believe that you are unemployed because an illegal alien “took” your job, it defines complete ignorance. Half of the people that complain of immigrants “stealing” the jobs have most likely never worked in those fields you mentioned above. Its pure ignorance and laziness that makes comments like this irrelevant. While there are 11 million working immigrants there are double if not tripled the amount homeless and begging on the street.

  8. Joe Schmidt

    I do see many points from both sides of the argument, both within this website and from outside sources. Personally, I believe that it is irrelevant whether a worker is foreign born or native if he or she is a legal citizen. In such a case, the individual better suited to the job would ideally succeed. However, if an individually is not a legal citizen, he or she must be in some way either 1) removed from the country or 2) fined and provided an opportunity to become a legal citizen. If the individual is detained for a substantial period or given a jail sentence, he or she is only burdening the system due to flaws within the system.

  9. Joe Schmidt

    I am sorry, I have noted a foolish error in my previous comment. It would be unjust to force a fine upon illegal immigrants as many of them have fled to the US in search of economic opportunity. Rather they should be given the opportunity to apply for citizenship in exchange for community service or some other progress-oriented assignment.

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