2016 NAS Report on Immigration: More of the Same

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The National Academy of Sciences released a new report in September that “provides a comprehensive assessment of economic and demographic trends of U.S. immigration over the past 20 years, its impact on the labor market and wages of native-born workers, and its fiscal impact at the national, state, and local levels.” Here are the highlights from the press release:

  • Effects on wages: “When measured over a period of 10 years or more, the impact of immigration on the wages of native workers overall is very small.”
  • Effects on employment levels: “There is little evidence that immigration significantly affects the overall employment levels of native-born workers.”
  • Effects of high-skilled immigrants: “Several studies have found a positive impact of skilled immigration on the wages and employment of both college- and non-college-educated natives. Such findings are consistent with the view that skilled immigrants are often complementary to native-born workers; that spillovers of wage-enhancing knowledge and skills occur as a result of interactions among workers; and that skilled immigrants innovate sufficiently to raise overall productivity.”
  • The role of immigrants in consumer demand: “Immigrants’ contributions to the labor force reduce the prices of some goods and services, which benefits consumers in a range of sectors, including child care, food preparation, house cleaning and repair, and construction. Moreover, new arrivals and their descendants are a source of demand in key sectors such as housing, which benefits residential real estate markets.”
  • Impacts on economic growth: “Immigration is integral to the nation’s economic growth. The inflow of labor supply has helped the United States avoid the problems facing other economies that have stagnated as a result of unfavorable demographics, particularly the effects of an aging workforce and reduced consumption by older residents. In addition, the infusion of human capital by high-skilled immigrants has boosted the nation’s capacity for innovation, entrepreneurship, and technological change.”
  • Fiscal impact of first-generation immigrants (1994-2013): “Annual cross-sectional data reveal that, compared with the native-born, first-generation immigrants contributed less in taxes during working ages because they were, on average, less educated and earned less. However, this pattern reverses at around age 60, when the native-born (except for the children of immigrants) were consistently more expensive to government on a per-capita basis because of their greater use of social security benefits.”
  • Fiscal impact of the children of immigration (1994-2013): “Reflecting their slightly higher educational achievement, as well as their higher wages and salaries, the second generation contributed more in taxes on a per capita basis during working ages than did their parents or other native-born Americans.”

I’ve written about the economic literature of immigration before and the NAS findings are pretty consistent with the ones I shared previously. This report could’ve used more exposure, especially given the outcome of Tuesday’s election.

Unfortunately, I doubt it would’ve mattered.