A working paper released this week by Notre Dame economists William Evans and Daniel Fitzgerald makes the head-scratching claim that refugees, despite below-average incomes and high rates of welfare use, pay $21,000 more in taxes than they receive in benefits during their first 20 years in the United States. Immigration-boosting wonks such as Matt Yglesias and Dylan Matthews immediately trumpeted the findings, and the Washington Post and FiveThirtyEight added favorable write-ups.
In 2012, native households in poverty consumed an average of $14,400 in welfare benefits, while immigrant households in poverty consumed "only" $13,100 of welfare. Does the $1,300 difference mean poor immigrants benefit American taxpayers?
The Cato Institute's Alex Nowrasteh published a new analysis last week of the famous Mariel boatlift. The boatlift was a massive inflow of Cuban refugees to Miami over the course of a single summer in 1980. To make a long story short, the recent work of economist George Borjas indicates that the boatlift probably caused a decline in wages for Miami workers who did not have a high school degree.In contrast, Nowrasteh says that Borjas's own methods indicate that the boatlift "raised the wages of low-skill Miamians." The reason is that "low-skill" for Nowrasteh means both high school dropouts and people with only a high school degree (hereafter "HS-and-below") – a definition that covers more than half the workers in Miami at the time. Nowrasteh combines the wage decline for dropouts and the wage increase for high school graduates and argues that Mariel's overall effect on "low-skill" natives is positive.
Donald Trump's ascension to the presidency means that he will have a chance to implement the "extreme vetting" of immigrants he proposed during the campaign. In a speech at Youngstown, Ohio, back in August, Trump suggested that immigrants would be evaluated not only for their possible connections to terrorism, but also for their commitment to First World values.
The new policy would be timely. As I noted a couple of months ago, no one will be surprised that social views in traditional societies differ from those in the post-industrial West, but the degree of divergence can be striking. Immigration is surging from countries where that divergence is especially large.
During Tuesday's vice presidential debate, Mike Pence said the Clinton-Kaine ticket supports immigration policies that are "driving wages down in this country." The ABC News fact-checker, applying its infinite wisdom to a longstanding debate in the economics profession, declared this claim "mostly false".I have always had a low opinion of the fact-check movement, since the supposedly objective fact-checkers are influenced by the same biases that reporters bring to other types of news. (See here and here for some delightful skewerings of the fact-checkers by Mark Hemingway.) But this time ABC News has gone beyond merely dressing up its opinions as fact. Every sentence of this fact-check is false, misleading, or vague. Start with its citation of the recent National Academies study on immigration:
In a CIS Backgrounder released last week, I showed that low-skill Americans have been dropping out of the labor force even as low-skill immigrants have been finding plenty of work. For example, while natives fell from 56 percent of the nation's high school dropouts to 52 percent, their share of the labor performed by all dropouts declined much faster — from 50 percent in the 2003-2005 period to 40 percent in 2012-2015.
Americans have sharply different views of gender equality compared to residents of some immigrant-sending countries
Part of Donald Trump's "extreme vetting" proposal may include a test for whether potential immigrants conform to American views on the rights of women. How important is such a test? While no one will be surprised that traditional societies are less likely to favor gender equality than First World countries such as the United States, the sheer size of the differences can be striking. The three figures below use questions from the World Values Survey to illustrate the disparities. All of the comparison nations are developing countries that have sent at least 100,000 immigrants to the United States as of 2014.
The White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) released a new report this week on the long-term decline of work among men ages 25 to 54. Although it contains some interesting insights, the report's specific treatment of immigration is weak and contradictory. Let's start with the CEA's primary explanation for why men have been dropping out of the labor force:
The American Action Forum (AAF) published a study last week arguing that the U.S. economy would lose as much as $623 billion in labor output if illegal immigrants were deported. The AAF portrayed this as a major economic loss for Americans, and a credulous media went along with it. "Tremendously expensive," according to Townhall. "Economic havoc," proclaimed Politico. "A devastating blow," said The Week.