A Nation of Immigrants

Immigrants Boost Growth

Immigrants bring tremendous gains to the US economy, and these gains come in several forms. Entrepreneurship and innovation create a more vibrant economy with stronger productivity growth, job creation, and dynamism. Immigrants increase economic growth not only directly, by increasing the number of workers in the economy, but also indirectly, by increasing the productivity of the economy as a w hole. As a National Academy of Sciences panel report concludes, “the prospects for long run economic growth in the United States would be considerably dimmed without the contributions of high- skilled immigrants.”

Immigration Solves Demographic Challenges

Immigrants are an important answer to the demographic challenges faced by many rich countries like the United States. (In fact, these demographic problems are far more pressing in some rich countries, such as Japan, precisely because they have smaller immigrant populations.) It is a very common pattern, across time periods and regions of the world, that as countries’ incomes grow and people get richer, there is a marked decrease in childbearing, slowing population growth.

The Immigrants Themselves

Many benefits accrue to the United States from immigration, but it is important to remember the immigrants themselves, whose benefits from migration can also be enormous. As one testament to the benefits of migrating to the United States, consider the number of applicants for the annual visa lottery. Fifty thousand visas are awarded annually by lottery to migrants from countries that do not have large US immigrant populations. Even though this excludes the very populous countries of China and India, over fourteen million people applied for entry through this lottery in fiscal year 2018. While probabilities vary wildly based on country of origin, overall chances were less than 1 in 290.

Trillion-Dollar Advantages

Because of the large difference between what migrants earn in their origin countries and what they could earn in the United States, there is a tremendous efficiency case for allowing more migration. Labor mobility is far more restricted than product mobility, and this creates the equivalent of large (typically over 400 percent, and sometimes over 1,000 percent) effective barriers. The average foreign worker from a less developed country receives a fivefold wage increase by moving to the United States.



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