A penguin and a polar bear are sitting on an iceberg. The penguin yells, "No Soap Radio!" They both jump in the water.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

"North of the Border"

Excerpt from Sunday's NYT, columnist Paul Krugman talks about honesty in discussing immigration:

In other words, I'm instinctively emotionally pro-immigration. But a review of serious nonpartisan research reveals some uncomfortable facts about the economics of modern immigrations, and immigration from Mexico in particular. If people like me are going to respond effectively to anti-immigrant demagogues, we have to acknowledge those facts.

First, the net benefits to the US economy from immigration, aside from the large gains to the immigrants themselves, are small. realistic estimates suggest that immigration since 1980 has raised the total income of native-born Americans by no more than a fraction of a percent.

Second, while immigration may have raised overall income slightly, many of the worst off native-born Americans are hurt by immigration, especially immigration from Mexico. Because Mexican immigrants have much less education than the average US worker, they increase the supply of less-skilled labor, driving down the wages of the worst paid Americans. The most authoritative recent study of this effect by George Borjas and Lawrence Katz of Harvard estimates that US high school dropouts would earn as much as 8 percent more if it weren't for Mexican immigration.

That's why it's intellectually dishonest to say, as President Bush does, that immigrants do jobs that Americans will not do. The willingness of Americans to do a job depends on how much that job pays, and the reason some jobs pay too little to attract native-born Americans is competition from poorly paid immigrants.

Finally, modern America is a welfare state, even if our modern safety net has more holes in it than it should, and low-skill immigrants threaten to unravel that safety net.


Post a Comment

<< Home