Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Surowiecki on high skill immigration

Here. I always wonder what:

1. Low skill immigrants think when they're basically told that they're less valuable to our country than high skill immigrants, and

2. High skill immigrant economists think when they are told that we need to provide favorable treatment to a certain type of labor relative to another type of labor.

If the evidence suggests more immigrants would be good, then by all means - increase the number of immigrants. But I don't see why this "privilege the high skill immigrants" mantra convinces people.

The fact that it's often paired with really bad claims about shortages of scientists and engineers doesn't endear me to the argument either, of course.


  1. The high skill immigrants lobby wants to: push down the wages of scientists and engineers who are already here, and paper over the failures of the American education system.

    I think the US should have special rules to encourage the immigration of attractive, smart, healthy young women. It might make the leaders in place like Russia, the Ukraine, Saudi Arabia and Iran smarten up if all the "best" young women were claiming asylum in the US (plus it would really improve the dating scene for any man with decent prospects.)

  2. "But I don't see why this "privilege the high skill immigrants" mantra convinces people"

    With the caveat that I probably knows less about economics than anyone here, I understand (from reading Paul Krugman, who I hear is pretty decent at the subject) that low-skilled immigrants drive down the wages of natives who compete with them. I assume the same applies to the high.
    Therefore, one reason to privilege high over low would be to reduce income inequality.*

    *I mean, I'm not advocating it. It sounds a little perverse...but that would be what would happen if we did it, no?

  3. Speaking of jobs and immigration...have you heard of Enrico Moretti's new book, The New Geography of Jobs? It deals with the innovation economy, geography, and labour economics, Daniel.


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