September 2, 2010

SURE, IT'S OBVIOUS ECONOMICS, BUT DO WE REALLY WANT TO IMPORT MILLIONS OF CONSERVATIVE CHRISTIANS?:

Give Us Your Tired, Your Poor. Really. We Mean It.: Economists are making the case politicians are afraid to: Immigration is great for the U.S. (James Ledbetter, Sept. 2, 2010, Slate)

If you pay attention only to politics, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the current debate about immigration in America is limited to how severely it should be restricted—whether we need only to seal the border or actually change the birthright citizenship clause in the Constitution.

But among economic pundits, the discussion is heading in exactly the opposite direction. Pro-immigration arguments are booming, and reached a zenith this week with the publication of a paper by the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, arguing among other things that immigrants, despite popular misconception, do not displace American workers. [...]

One major reason why housing prices remain in the doldrums and sales remain slack is that there are simply too many houses for sale. The National Association of Realtors reported that in July, there were 3.98 million existing homes on the market, representing a 12.5-month supply at the current pace of sales. That's an exceptionally high number (a normal market has a six-month supply). Until hundreds of thousands of those homes sell, the market is likely to stagnate. So, goes the argument, let's open the borders to immigrants who promise to buy a house.


The Effect of Immigrants on U.S. Employment and Productivity (Giovanni Peri, 8/30/10, FRBSF Economic Letter)
The effects of immigration on the total output and income of the U.S. economy can be studied by comparing output per worker and employment in states that have had large immigrant inflows with data from states that have few new foreign-born workers. Statistical analysis of state-level data shows that immigrants expand the economy's productive capacity by stimulating investment and promoting specialization. This produces efficiency gains and boosts income per worker. At the same time, evidence is scant that immigrants diminish the employment opportunities of U.S.-born workers.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at September 2, 2010 6:42 PM
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