Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Immigration and the U.S. Economy

Testimony Prepared for House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Immigration, itizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law

September 30, 2010

Steven A. Camarota, Director of Research. Center for Immigration Studies,


In my very brief comments I will touch on several key issues surrounding immigration and the economy. My goal will be to clear up some of the confusion that often clouds the immigration debate. In particular, I will explain the difference between increasing the overall size of the U.S. economy and increasing the per-capita income of Americans. Finally, I will touch on the issue of immigration’s impact on public coffers.



When thinking about immigration it is important to recognize that its impact on the size of the economy is not a measure of the benefit to natives. There is no question that U.S. GDP is significantly larger because of immigrant workers. However, a larger economy is entirely irrelevant to the key question of whether the per-capita GDP of natives is higher because of immigration. Efforts to measure the impact of immigration on the per-capita GDP of Americans using the standard economic model show that the benefit is trivial relative to the size of the economy. Perhaps most important, these trivial gains are the result of reduced wages for American workers in competition with immigrants. These workers tend to be the least educated and poorest already. If there is no wage reduction, then there is no economic gain. Finally, the tiny economic gain is probably entirely offset by the fiscal drain immigrants create on taxpayers.

In the end, arguments for or against immigration are as much political and moral as they are economic. The latest research indicates that we can reduce immigration without harming the economy. Doing so makes sense if we are very concerned about low-wage and less-educated workers in the United States. On the other hand, if one places a high priority on helping unskilled workers in other countries, then we should continue to allow in a large number of such workers. Of course, only an infinitesimal proportion of the world's poor could ever come to this country even under the most open immigration policy one might imagine. Those who support the current high level of immigration should at least understand that the American workers harmed by the policies they favor are already the poorest and most vulnerable.

Much more HERE

Recent entries on the CIS blog below

See here. The CIS main page is here.

Department of Unhelpful Immigration Metaphors (3): 'Comprehensive Immigration Reform'

More on Migration, Marriage, and Money

Department of Unhelpful Immigration Metaphors (2): 'Out of the Shadows'

Senator Hatch Drops a Helpful and Thoughtful Border Security Bill

Department of Unhelpful Immigration Metaphors (1): 'The System is Broken'

Whitman's Illegal-Immigrant Maid – A Case Study in Document Fraud and Perjury

New Book Seeks Fewer Family-Based Visas

The Ubiquity of Illegal Immigration, Even unto Puerto Rico

A Reform Proposal with Promise?

Before the Truth Can Get Its Boots on

No comments:

Post a Comment