Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Economic Logic of Illegal Immigration

So goes the title of a report to the Council on Foreign Relations by UCSD Professor of Economics Gordon Hanson. From the Introduction, here's a teaser:

This analysis concludes that there is little evidence that legal immigration is economically preferable to illegal immigration. In fact, illegal immigration responds to market forces in ways that legal immigration does not. Illegal immigrants tend to arrive in larger numbers when the U.S. economy is booming (relative to Mexico and the Central American countries that are the source of most illegal immigration to the United States) and move to regions where job growth is strong. Legal immigration, in contrast, is subject to arbitrary selection criteria and bureaucratic delays, which tend to disassociate legal inflows from U.S. labor-market conditions. Over the last half-century, there appears to be little or no response of legal immigration to the U.S. unemployment rate. Two-thirds of legal permanent immigrants are admitted on the basis of having relatives in the United States. Only by chance will the skills of these individuals match those most in demand by U.S. industries. While the majority of temporary legal immigrants come to the country at the invitation of a U.S. employer, the process of obtaining a visa is often arduous and slow. Once here, temporary legal workers cannot easily move between jobs, limiting their benefit to the U.S. economy.

I'll have to add this one to the "good intentions" pile of reading.

6 comments:

loogel said...

That says a lot about how bad our immigration policy is. If legal immigration doesn't respond to market forces, then immigration policy is failing in one of it's important roles.

Jeong said...

Does Vox Baby mean "voice of the baby." What made you get the name? Just wondering

A Red Mind in a Blue State said...

I don't think you can look at legal immigration over the last 50 years without recognizing two important facts-- the Cold War, and the unimpeded illegal immigration surge. During the Cold War, many of our "open" spots were eaten up by refugees. During this illegal surge, the sheer numbers pouring over our borders makes the legal numbers, and their allocation to economic necessity, moot. Top it off with liberal interference-- any attempt to tie immigration to needed skills is met with a chorus of "we're turning our backs on the tired, poor, huddled masses". Perhaps what the author should have said is that legal immigration, as practiced, is less preferable economically.

Ari Binger said...

The economic incentives to steal far out wheigh the incentives to buy. Let us make all transactions illegal.

Anonymous said...

The US policy should not change based on economics. what part of illegal do they not understand.
In order to enter the USA... there should be no job taken away from a unemployed person. Taxes should derived from imports...

Anonymous said...

This article, "The tangled web of illegal immigration -- what do we really know?" published in Knowledge@W. P. Carey ( site ), discusses the common myths associated with the different sides on the immigration issue. It is worth reading because it points to faulty evidence on both sides of the issue.