Immigration Makes Us More Prosperous

This is a really important fact that people don’t talk about enough:

That is a huge gap. Immigrants’ economic output is almost three times their weight as a proportion of the population, a difference that adds up to $3 trillion annually.

Why would this be the case? Well, immigrants are typically pretty motivated people. Packing everything up and moving out of the country and into a completely new environment is a very motivated and committed thing to do. It is a signal that says “I want to do something really worthwhile with my life.”

Migration also takes lots of different skills such as the ability to navigate bureaucracy and different legal and cultural frameworks, the ability to learn a foreign language, and the ability to do in-demand work in the destination country.

And while there may be bad apples who go abroad to commit crimes, or leech off welfare, or engage in terrorism—just as there are some native individuals who engage in crime, and terrorism, and welfare fraud—the bigger picture detailed in the McKinsey/IMF study is one of migrants making the world much richer.

Indeed, immigrants commit a disproportionately low amount of crime per person. Skilled and highly-motivated migrants probably have less time or reason to engage in criminal activities.

And, as the FT notes: “The study also cites widespread academic work indicating that migration does not harm domestic employment or wages despite short-term negative effects in limited areas. Instead it emphasises a wage gap of 20-30 per cent between immigrant and native workers, adding that bringing immigrants’ pay closer to national averages would also boost output.”

Of course, these facts do not take away the cultural distress of people who voted for Brexit and Trump, people who may feel left behind by globalization.

But immigration restrictionism to appease these people is throwing the golden goose out with the bathwater. Immigration makes us as a whole much richer. A much more sensible answer than immigration restrictionism is to use public funds derived from the benefits of immigration to address some of these concerns. Such programs should include job retraining programs for factory workers displaced by job migration, providing language and assimilation classes for new immigrants, and screening measures to prevent the movement of people who might intend to commit acts of terrorism.

According to some theories, completely open borders would be even more beneficial, doubling global GDP.

In practice, that may not work, but a sensible migration policy would be to seek to move closer to the paradigm of open borders, to see if the theory holds up. Unfortunately, in the post-Brexit, post-Trump, post-fact world, we see no such policy. And we probably won’t for a long while yet.

13 thoughts on “Immigration Makes Us More Prosperous

  1. So basically, here is how a liberal thinks:

    A desire to uphold established immigration laws, and have law and order — You are a racist.

    A desire for effective border security — You are a racist

    Oppose open borders — You are a double racist.

    Disagree with anything a liberal says — You are a racist and a misogynist

    Be a white male who disagrees with a liberal — Well, you are not only have held a position of leadership in the KKK, but you are a self-entitled, toxic-masculine, racist.

      • Well, I did read an opinion piece on CNN today that inspired my post. It seems that certain people are ready to fess up to the overuse of the race card — after all it’s probably very true that the swing states got pretty freaking sick of it. and decided to vote the libs out.

        I live in CA where my comments don’t really feel like strawmen, more like reality.

        But at the end of the day, you sound like a loon to me, and I must sound like a loon to you.

        With that, thanks for sharing your opinions with me as they help to expand my mind.

  2. All the benefits of immigration you have mentioned are true of LEGAL immigration. Your tale falls apart when looking at ILLEGAL immigration.

    My grandparents emigrated from Italy to the US, demonstrating “the ability to navigate bureaucracy and different legal and cultural frameworks, the ability to learn a foreign language, and the ability to do in-demand work in the destination country”. They also became citizens of their adopted country and raised their children in the customs of that nation. They did not march in the streets, demanding “rights” while waving the flag of their previous country.

    In other words, they assimilated – willingly and intentionally.

    • In fact, the data included all persons living abroad, for any reason, including temporary legal migrants and illegal migrants. The fact is that illegal migrants—particularly in America—are extremely productive. The anecdotes you cite about marching in the streets while waving the flag of a previous country are very far from commonplace

      • Thanks to organizations like La Raza, not nearly far enough from commonplace. Crime rates (in the US – I don’t pretend to have data for anywhere else in the world) are high among illegal immigrants, possibly exasperated by our efforts to marginalize their legal opportunities. Regardless of the causes (of which there are probably many) gang membership and drug dealing are predominant.

      • My father in law is 1st generation American immigrant. He 1st escaped to Canada, then went to Michigan, and then moved to California where the weather was so great. He came here legally.

        Positively the hardest working, smartest, man I’ve ever met. He went from wearing old tires for shoes as a kid to being a multi-millionaire many times over. He definitely confirms in my mind that many immigrants are indeed very hard working and good for our country. Especially back then when they wanted to come here legally and work.

        When he immigrated back in 1969, the world was a different place. You could not come to this country and take advantage of it by not working. You learned English. There was plenty of opportunity for work. Very nice homes were affordable for even a tradesman (now where I live starter homes are 1 million). You could board an airplane without having to go through a body scanner.

        In a very real sense, California already has a very open border and houses millions of illegals — people who willfully broke the law sneaking in here. And they are not thrown out but allowed to have a driver’s license, free health care, education, cell phone, and a food card.

        Just how am I to expect that a person who breaks the law to get here and can’t speak English, is going to turn about and become a model immigrant? Once illegal, more laws get broken by them as they work under the table. And the majority of the money they make gets sent to Mexico.

        A true, wide open border, where cars could flow in from Mexico unchecked, would literally turn California into Mexico within a very short time. There are nice places in Mexico, yes. But compared to California, it is a shithole where the vast majority live in poverty. And it is very corrupt with a lot of crime.

        Why would anyone stay in Mexico, if they could come to America and pilfer us to death? They are not going to stay in Mexico but come to California, AZ, and Texas by the millions — and not stop coming. The vast majority will be uneducated, poor, and on the take. They won’t be able to take advantage of and work it our service economy. We can only have so many landscapers and maids that don’t speak English. They will never be able to join the professional ranks.

        The result would be a massive breakdown of life for Americans. The states would go bankrupt. Services would deteriorate.

        It would not be fair to millions of hard working Americans. If we wanted to live in Mexico, we would already be there. It’s cheap. Oh, but wait, I cannot buy land in Mexico. They don’t want my gringo ass.

        The world now is a place where you cannot get on an airplane without a lot of security measures in place. “Open borders” for commercial flying would be a disaster.

        I just don’t see how open borders are feasible. Unless you simply believe in complete and utter wealth redistribution, the destruction of American culture and values, and think that the demise of America as we know it now is a good thing.

  3. Countries like Australia are opposed to having new immigrants even though they already have many who are well integrated into their community. This attitude is strange because as shown above the immigrants will bring more useful things to the country than what they need to take from it, after they have established themselves. As population density of a community grows, its productivity will increase due to the ability for finer specialization and the resulting better quality of produce. However if the county is unwilling to allow its control of opportunity to accept newcomers to be shared with the immigrants, it will create an atmosphere of unhelpfulness which in the long run is likely to stop it making progress.

  4. Agree with your post. Why doesn’t Israel accept its fair share of immigrants from the Middle East? Israel is a 1st world country, why can’t it take motivated immigrants from Africa, Asia , India, Arabia?

    • Israel is an ethnostate. My view is that being an explicit ethnostate is self-harmful. I don’t wanna become one of the “open borders for Israel” trolls, though, because they are anti-Semitic.

    • It is obvious that Israel does not welcome immigrants from the Arab countries, particular Syria, because these new arrivals are likely to be unfriendly to the people already living there. However, she does have a program of giving help to wounded Arab civilians to recover (but not to stay), especially children. The other reason is that although Israel has certain Arab citizens who are unfriendly (as well as many who are useful and helpful), there is no balance between the surrounding neighbors. When the State began in 1948, there was a great forced emigration of Jewish citizens, being driven out from Arab countries. Does Israel now have to turn the other cheek? Let the Arab nations take care of their own, which some of them (like Jordan) are doing with difficulty.

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