Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sanity in a post from Brad DeLong! (redundant, I know - it probably just needs to read "A post from Brad DeLong")

He writes: "By the end of 2012 there were 312 million Americans out of 7 billion people on the planet. By 2062--if we stay on the current policy track--there will be 500 million Americans out of 10 billion people on the planet, as compared to 340 million if we were to end net immigration now and if birthrates remained the same. In this sense, America in 2062 will--if we stay on our current policy track--be a nation that is 1/3 post-2012 immigrants.

The thoughtful Adam Ozimek thinks that isn't enough.

He thinks the United States needs more high-skill immigrants. I think the United States needs more immigrants--more people willing to take risks and work hard to seek a better life for themselves and their children, and illiterates from Chiapas seem to me as good as doctors from Calcutta"

This is a point I've been making a lot for the last several months. There's very little evidence of persistent high-skill labor shortages. That's what we have wages for. There's no reason to privelege this class of labor. None of the people who talk like this would make statements like this about priveleging certain types of imports over other types. So why do they do that with labor?

Never mind the fact that immigration is about more than just the labor market: people have aspirations to be Americans besides just high skill workers. My family wouldn't have made the cut if we had focused on high skill workers in previous centuries.


A note in light of some recent unpleasantness: this is one question where Don Boudreaux has always been very clear and very right. Even when some of his colleagues came out in support of "staple act" legislation to make it easier for high skill workers to immigrate than low skill workers, Don said quite clearly that there's no reason for extending such special priveleges. You can use the search function on the blog to find specific instances - I know I drew attention to his posts on that in at least one or two cases.


  1. I think the "staple act" is a political low-hanging fruit because it plays so well into so many of the economic misconceptions of the general public and Congress. I don't like the government picking winners and losers. But I don't think that's a good description of this policy because the government isn't picking any winners. They are just picking losers and people who will be given a fair chance. So from that point of view, the staple act just means giving more people a fair chance which is of course a good thing.

    As usual, I'll provide the disclaimer that I've suffered greatly at the hand of the United States' restrictive immigration policy and so may not be entirely unbiased on the topic.

  2. Out of you agree that we should get rid of minimum wages? It would seem to do more harm than good if we gave unskilled workers the green light to vote with their feet when in fact the light was red.

  3. "My family wouldn't have made the cut if we had focused on high skill workers in previous centuries."

    And so you would have been English, oh dear :)


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