The Economics of Immigration: A Cato Lecture by Benjamin Powell

This is part of the DR Book Collection.

Image result for the economics of immigrationImmigration has been getting quite a bit of attention in the news and here at Difficult Run lately. With political debates shifting from the typical Right/Left to Open/Close, tackling the economic literature on immigration became a priority to me. Hence, my recent completion of the Oxford-published The Economics of Immigration: Market-Based Approaches, Social Science, and Public Policy. And what does the research say?:

  • Eliminating policy barriers to international labor mobility would increase global wealth by between 50-150% of world GDP (pg. 13). “For all its radicalism, open borders’ main effects are fairly well understood. Open borders would dramatically increase global production. It would drastically reduce global poverty and global inequality. At the same time, open borders would make the remaining poverty and inequality much more visible for current residents of the First World” (pg. 185).
  • Immigration has little to no effect on native wages and employment. What effects there are tend to be negative, but small and temporary (pg. 30). In fact, it is mainly those without high-school degrees who lose out in the short run, yet see their wages increase in the long run (pg. 19).
  • Immigration generates an annual efficiency gain for Americans of between $5 and $10 billion (pg. 21).
  • Immigrants boost the demand side of the economy (pg. 42-43).
  • Immigration has little to no impact on the government budget (pg. 63). A typical immigrant may impose a $3,000 net fiscal cost herself, but her descendants have a positive net fiscal contribution of $83,000, producing an $80,000 surplus  (pg. 61).
  • Immigrants today tend to assimilate more than they did a century ago (pg. 90).
  • New research finds “that greater immigration was associated with small improvements in economic institutions or had no effect at all” (pg. 211). In other words, immigrants don’t import negative institutions.

And much more. You can see a Cato Institute lecture on the book below by editor and Texas Tech economist Benjamin Powell.