June 28, 2018


America needs more people (James Pethokoukis, June 28, 2018, The Week)

Listening to a certain brand of conservative immigration restrictionist, you'd think America was packed to the gills, unable to accommodate a single additional person.

This couldn't be more wrong. Indeed, America desperately needs more people.

In a recent Washington Post op-ed, former Trump White House national security spokesperson Michael Anton asked, "Why do we need more people? ... For the extra traffic congestion? More crowded classrooms? Higher greenhouse gas emissions?" He argued that in fact America doesn't need more people, and further immigration here benefits only vote-seeking Democrats and cheap-labor-seeking Big Business. President Trump made a facile version of the same point when he reportedly told members of Congress earlier this week that his new immigration proposal is "I'm sorry, you can't come in." [...]

But the silliest argument is that somehow America is filled to the brim and just can't comfortably fit any more people -- you know, all that rush-hour traffic and those long lines at the airport. If so, then perhaps in addition to stopping immigration, Washington should also discourage parents from having too many children. Maybe a federal child tax instead of a child tax credit.

Of course America isn't all filled up. It is one of the least population dense countries in the world. Moreover, there are plenty of other advanced economies where the inflow of immigrants as a share of the population is higher than the United States, and whose stock of immigrants as a share of the population is higher as well. Doubling or even tripling the current million a year in legal admissions would be a smart policy for a country facing an economic growth and fiscal challenge from an aging population and slowing labor force growth. Worried about the decline in startup businesses? Slowing population growth in the West, Southwest, and Southeast regions since the early 1980s appears to be a major factor.

Pity the poor Malthusians.

Posted by at June 28, 2018 4:38 AM