« Immigration Reform--Posner Comment | Main | Response on Sale of Rights to Immigrate-BECKER »

02/21/2005

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341c031153ef0133efd00995970b

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Sell the Right to Immigrate-BECKER:

» 对经济学的忏悔 from Hibernator
Ping Back来自:www.donews.net [Read More]

» Catching my eye: morning A through Z from The Glittering Eye
Here's what's caught my eye this morning: Bithead is asking a number of provocative questions today here, here, and here. I can't say that I agree with his answers completely but they sure are interesting questions. Becker and Posner contemplate... [Read More]

» Sell the Right to Immigrate (becker-posner) from Dummocrats.com
Sell the Right to Immigrate (becker-posner) [Read More]

» Yes, Dr. Becker, student loans are a form of inde from The First Amendment Run Amok
Becker has come out openly in favor of indentured servitude. And his response to people to point that out? A comparison to student loans. Well, student loans are, in a very real sense, a form of indentured servitude. Merely for attempting to get an... [Read More]

» Immigration Reform: Sell Green Cards from Labor Blog
With almost ten million undocumented immigrants in the US, working without most legal rights and exploited by the day, even as hundreds of thousands more stream across our borders because of desperation back home, there is a human rights crisis serving... [Read More]

» Immigration Reform: Sell Green Cards from Labor Blog
With almost ten million undocumented immigrants in the US, working without most legal rights and exploited by the day, even as hundreds of thousands more stream across our borders because of desperation back home, there is a human rights crisis serving... [Read More]

» Immigration Reform: Sell Green Cards from Labor Blog
With almost ten million undocumented immigrants in the US, working without most legal rights and exploited by the day, even as hundreds of thousands more stream across our borders because of desperation back home, there is a human rights crisis serving... [Read More]

» fha streamline refinance from fha streamline refinance
There are some secrets and straightforward tips buyers should be on familiar terms with before shopping for a house mortgage for Custer SD real estate. The primary, and most vital of these, is to carry out your research. House loans vary significantly ... [Read More]

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Welt


"My thinking is that there are Type I and Type II errors, assuming the USA wants the most productive and brightest of immigrants (call them "high types") but does not want the worst of the lot (call them "low types")." - et al.

Analysis is fine and all but what about time? Just another example of short-sightedness in our political economic thinking. I think it's hard to reduce immigration to net benefit or loss to our economy. Shouldn't we be eager as a society to clothe, feed and educate as many people as possible, regardless of origin and current cost to society? Problem is we don't see such expenses as long term investment but just costs and burdens. Why is a welfare mother with three children viewed as a burden when the three children will eventually grow up and be contributors to the economy? Reality is that we are still tribal and the immigration issue draws from a well of xenophonia and ethnocentrism.

If the issue is illegal immigration, a lot can be done to address this if we go after the employers of illegal immigrants. But American's don't want to do certain jobs? Well, immigration is only the symptom of the disease of a too-rigid labor economy. Realistically, who is going to tackle the illegal immigration issue when there are huge political pressures to keep wages ("cost of business") low?

Palooka

"But American's don't want to do certain jobs?"

NO, they don't want to do some jobs at the wages illegals get paid. In the absense of illegal labor, the wages rise, inducing legal labor to take up those undesirable jobs. Also, some substitution of capital will take place when the wages increase.

The idea that there are insufficient numbers of Americans willing to do the labor even at higher wages, or that the system would collapse without illegal labor, is a total fabrication of the highest order. It is a lie perpetuated by business interests and those politicos who think the demographic shifts favor their party. Unfortunately, both parties have a stake in illegal immigration continuing, despite having a majority of the American people fed up with illegal immigration and its ills.

Barry S

"NO, they don't want to do some jobs at the wages illegals get paid. In the absense of illegal labor, the wages rise, inducing legal labor to take up those undesirable jobs."

Actually, the absense of cheap labor will just lead to more outsourcing. Very. Simple. Economics.

Daniel Chapman

(b) The borders should be opened. Obviously there are security concerns that must be taken into account, but contrary to most grade-school level economics - the economy is not a pie - it will expand.

(d) How do states like Arizona, New Mex, and Texas get compensated. Surely, these 'open borders' are going to come at an expense. How are those states compensated?

I'm sorry, but there seems to be a contradiction there... If immigration is a net benefit for society, why would we need to compensate the states who gain the most immigrants? Are you assuming at this point, that the welfare state has already been reduced or eliminated?

I agree that a healthy, hardworking, younger workforce would be a benefit to the American economy as a whole. There would be a serious wage hit in certain labor markets, but I doubt Professor Becker would argue that we need protectionist policies for wages.

At the risk of making what will be a very unpopular point for some people here, I think the biggest problem with open borders is that mass immigration from Mexico leads to non-assimilating enclaves. Immigrants in these areas do not learn english, maintain dual citizenships, and have no long-term connection to the United States. Even if the welfare state was eliminated, policies such as an official english language and an end of dual citizenship would have to be put in place.

mikec


Actually, the absense of cheap labor will just lead to more outsourcing. Very. Simple. Economics.

Actually, a lot of low paying jobs are not amenable to outsourcing. How do you outsource dishwashers, gardeners, nannies, and janitors? For jobs like these, the absense of cheap labor is likely to lead to automation, not outsourcing.

Corey

"but I doubt Professor Becker would argue that we need protectionist policies for wages."

That is exactly what he is arguing for, a $50K tax on being willing to work for less. He admits the departure from free-market ideology in his post!

"I think the biggest problem with open borders is that mass immigration from Mexico leads to non-assimilating enclaves."

Whatever, I lived in LA for 8 years and didn't see this. If anything, LA absorbs latino culture to its benefit. There is nothing inherently wrong with dual citizenship or bi-lingual education in a multi-national economy.

The basic structure of our economy today, with labor primarily offshore and benefits entirely on-shore, is NOT fair or moral. People are using the fact that folks outside the country see through this structure as an argument for destroying the local benefits when really, it is an argument for extending the benefits as far as the labor is extended.

It is perverse to attack the welfare state because outsiders admire it. This is especially true when those outsiders actually are participants in the American economy but are being excluded from its benefits by a one way geographical door.

Daniel Chapman

You lived in LA and didn't see signs of non-assimilation? Well ok then... I guess there's no point in trying to convince you otherwise. I see it in Wisconsin.

Michael Walker

It is well to remember the U.S. immigration history of the Eastern European Jews in the late 1800s and early 1900s: they were initially thought to be undesirable immigrants (poor, language deficiency, low IQ test scores) yet became productive cost-benefit citizens over time. And their children excelled in the U.S. educational system and became very successful productive members of society.

Mr. Beckers proposed fee system would have excluded most Eastern European Jews to the detriment of the U.S. I have doubts about a fee system or purportedly scientific human capital metrics incorporated into immigration law to produce a prudent immigration policy.

Palooka

Corey,

Need proof about non-assimilation?

Heard of MEChA?

Corey

"Heard of MEChA?"

Yes, and I have heard of the Nation of Islam and the Aryan Nation groups as well, as far as I know, every identifiable ethnicity in our country has at least one radical separatist group. I think you are missing the forest for the one ugly tree.

The US did appropriate traditional chicano lands by the way, MEChA is at least right about that.

Expressions of cultural allegiance are just as protected as any other non-violent form of speech, societies with less xenophobia than ours have no trouble enjoying other people's cultural festivals and that tolerance diminishes the audience for radical separatists.

I personally do not believe that total assimilation helps either culture. One side inevitably loses some of its valued traditional identity and the other loses the ability to access diverse ideas.

Some assimilation is good because common ground has to be found if we are to communicate and get along, but my experience visiting other cultures leads me to conclude that there is less variation in basic human goals and needs than we might assume. At a minimum, our shared life cycle gives a starting point for understanding even absent shared spoken language.

Palooka

"Yes, and I have heard of the Nation of Islam and the Aryan Nation groups as well, as far as I know, every identifiable ethnicity in our country has at least one radical separatist group. I think you are missing the forest for the one ugly tree."

And these other "radical separatist groups" exist on hundreds of college campuses across this country, with official university sanction? Has a member of one of these other "radical separatist" groups recently run for governor of our largest state, California, as a Democrat or Republican?

"At a minimum, our shared life cycle gives a starting point for understanding even absent shared spoken language."

This is such complete drivel. The praises of a multi-lingual society are many, but have you actually studied what occurs in multi-lingual societies? Hint: it's not unity and harmony.

CleverNameHere

I would urge commenters not to unduly focus on the $50k price tag. It's just a number, likely thrown out because it's nice and round. Perhaps the fee will be $10-$20k. Or maybe we'll all be surprised and the eventual number is much higher. The market will decide. Or if you don't like a fixed rate, maybe we could auction off the immigration slots ebay style.

And who says Becker's Immigration-Mart idea can't be incorporated into the current framework? We can still give preference to family members, selected skilled workers, etc., and ALSO sell the right to immigrate to those who are passed over using the above criteria.

I will say that I think the only way selling immigration can stem the flow of illegal immigrants is if the proceeds go to strengthening the border security.

Third generation

I would like to draw a connection between three separate points made in this thread.

a) Prof. Becker's suggestion that family reunion priorities be eliminated from immigration law.
b) The comment that before the welfare state, organizations like HIAS were providing handouts to poor immigrants.
c) The comment that it is really very difficult for government systems to make long-term judgements about the economic prospects of an individual.

Does anyone think that the following logic is reasonable:

1) Families naturally tend to make long term economic decisions. The decision to spend money raising and educating children is a gamble. The children may or may not be good "economic investments". Children may or may not even be good "emotional investments" because they are not guarenteed to love their parents or bring tthem any type of pleasure.

2) Parents in general (and,in cultures where the family is much larger than the nuclear one, older family members) are remarkably resourceful when it comes to making their investments pay off. Most parents don't take their offspring to court to make them get good jobs and take care of them in their old age. And they don't prosecute their children to compel their loyalty/love. But they usually manage to get more or less what they want.

3) HIAS and such organizations operated on a similar basis. They invested in the immigrants with whom they presumed they had familal-like loyalties. They couldn't be absolutely sure that the recipients of their aid would feel compelled by the same sense of familial loyalty, but in general the Jewish community which funded HIAS was very good at helping immigrants make their way in America, and exerted tremendous pressure on them to do so. Again, much like a family does.

4) What would happen then if immigration law forced potential immigrants to have a sponsor which would legally ensure their care (for say, 2 or 3 years or so)?
Those potential immigrants who were already qualified to fill empty jobs would easily find a business sponsor .
Those potential immigrants whose benifits are largely a matter of speculation would probably have to resort to close friends, but especially to family members already in the United States and who have already had enough economic success to be able to financially ensure another person's welfare for 2 or 3 years.
These family members would probably be more likely than the government to be able to judge whether such a gamble is worthwhile.

Moreover these family members have greater and more subtle means at their disposal for making the person indebted to them live up to their expectations.
Last but not least, these family members would most likely be former immigrants who "made good". They could provide valuable information, contacts, and advice to the new immigrant. (aka path-dependence)

This might also alleviate some of the problems of immigrant enclaves where people are not encourage to learn English. Immigrants who learn English are more likely to become economically successful than immigrants who don't learn English. They would thus be more likely to have the financial resources to sponsor new immigrants. And they would likely mentor their charge to follow in their footsteps by learning English and becoming successful too.


Unfortunately, such a policy would exclude people who have not yet proved themselves and who are not so lucky as to have contacts in the United States. This would be painful and harsh, but perhaps not in comparison to the alternatives.

Daniel Chapman

"societies with less xenophobia than ours have no trouble enjoying other people's cultural festivals and that tolerance diminishes the audience for radical separatists."

Yes, corey... I hear Holland's tolerance in welcoming immigrants with open arms has paid off in spades.

art hackett

Many illegal immigrants pay huge amounts of money to smugglers to get into the country. What would the economic effect be of letting them post that money into a US bank account where they could use it to start a business. Seems like a better deal than paying it to a Chinese crime syndicate.

Michael Walker

What is a prudent immigration policy? What is the goal? What are you measuring?

I argue you need high numbers of low wage immigrants to reach economic goals. Yes, there are social costs yet the evidence suggests net economic benefits to low wage immigration likely outweigh costs.

Fact: you remove all low wage immigrants from U.S. and the economy would crash. Thus, it may not be advisable for public policy to favor educated and wealthy immigrants over poor and uneducated immigrants.

poweryogi

While Dr. Becker's post addresses a mechanism for allowing immigrants to enter the United States, I think the line of thinking might be applied to a matter more urgent - granting full migrant status to people who are already in the US as legal(or even illegal) workers.

Can we not implement a rule that says that anyone who has legally entered the US and paid, say $50,000 or $100,000 or pick-a-sensible-number, in taxes be granted a green card? At once, this would mean higher skilled workers, presuming they have higher paying jobs, will be granted status faster. And lower-wage immigrants, in taking longer to reach that threshold of tax payment, would demonstrate a solid desire to live and work legally in the US.

Palooka

"Fact: you remove all low wage immigrants from U.S. and the economy would crash."

This is just ridiculous logic for arguing for the status quo. You remove ANY group consisting of millions of workers and the economy would "crash." That doesn't mean the economy, in the absense of massive illegal immigration, wouldn't function. An adjustment period would occur, and it would make sense to allow many to stay who have already made the US their home, but if we were to halt illegal immigration today, markets WOULD adjust, the sky would not fall, especially if stemming illegal immigration was gradual.

"Yes, there are social costs yet the evidence suggests net economic benefits to low wage immigration likely outweigh costs."

The only benefits are lower prices. No taxes--besides sales taxes--are collected. Americans in the lowest wage tiers are actually hurt because the influx of low skilled workers lowers wages. Increased crime also is likely to occur (lower education and income levels do that). All while tax paying Americans pay for medicaid, medicare, education, roads, etc. It's difficult to measure the benefit of illegal immigration found in lower priced goods and services, but I have serious doubts it is greater than the costs. And don't Americans have the right to insist that those costs be reflected in policy without being labeled xenophobic and racist?

Michael Walker

Palooka: Do you have evidence to support your allegations and arguments?

v

Prof Becker's suggestion is already effectively in place. There are economic costs to migrating legally, which are already imposed on an individual, through things like visa fees and other restrictions (for example, an individual immigrating from India without a promise of financial support in the US has to show adequate financial status for visa approval). There will always be barriers of this nature to immigration. What a proposal of this sort would do is discourage a number of legal immigrants from entering the US. Personally, (I am from India, and while I am here, I plan to go back) I think while there are many people (who lie in a likely target group) who are eager to immigrate legally, they are not sufficiently desperate to shell out additional fees of the sort described by Prof Becker. I would also argue that the group of people who would avail of this proposal are small enough to make little difference to the long term social security or tax burden on the public.

However, I find arguments of this nature disturbing for a few reasons.

1. This argument assumes that a sufficient metric of an immigrant's possible contribution to american society is his or her ability to satisfy a certain minimum financial threshold. This is a simplistic measure at best, given that a great number of successful americans were immigrants with little or no financial resources to begin with. There is also the small matter of the willingness of American society to tolerate and even utilize poor, illegal immigrants for jobs which ordinary Americans would accept only at much higher renumeration.

2. While a worker in India would earn $10/hr as opposed to $40/hr, the purchasing power of the $10/hr is much higher in a country like India, so in real terms his/her wage is greater. Consequently if a fee of $50,000 or higher is imposed, it could be a sufficient economic disincentive for such workers to immigrate. Essentially, immigration is not a one way deal, the U.S allows immigration of any sort because such immigration satisfies real economic needs in the U.S. Shifting burdens on legal immigrants of this kind may be counterproductive.

3. The economic free labour market argument. Imposing constraints of this nature is an artificial device to control a labour market, and would probably incentivize illegal immigration. Also, there is no reason why such additional controls should be imposed on what is already an unfree labor market. It appears to me that the tolerance for immigration within the US is already stimulated by the demand for labor, and the present setup is pretty good in satisfying this demand in sectors which require educated and trained personnel, through allowing immigration legally.

The real contribution to immigrant populations is in the relatively poor, and unskilled labor categories, and a lot of this is illegal in nature. Additional barriers of this nature are at best going to drive the illegal immigration networks further "underground" and create a greater incentive for an illegal trade in human trafficking.

Michael Walker

Additionally, significant additional immigration fees would likely cause knowledge based businesses to outsource more jobs offshore. Beware of the law of unintended consequences: high wage knowledge jobs are mobile most can be located offshore. Low wage labor is often geographically restricted (construction, hospitality, food). The potential result of a fee based system could be loss of high wage jobs and a shortage of low wage labor in the U.S. Thus, a fee based immigration system may be counterproductive to U.S. interests.

Palooka

"Palooka: Do you have evidence to support your allegations and arguments?"

Do you? The costs of providing medicare, medicaid, welfare, and education to illegals are known costs (or are costs which can reasonably be estimated). Do you dispute this?

The only subtantial benefit illegal immigration gives Americans is lower (how lower is uncertain) priced goods and services. You have already suggested you are in possession of "evidence" which suggests the benefits of illegal immigration outweighs the costs. You have not presented this "evidence," but have the audacity to ask me for evidence to support my quite mild and self-evident assertion that, "It's difficult to measure the benefit of illegal immigration found in lower priced goods and services, but I have serious doubts it is greater than the costs [of illegal immigration]." Maybe you can provide other potential benefits, but your silence thus far speaks volumes. Maybe you can present a reliable way to estimate the degree of which prices are lower because of illegal immigration. I'd like to see that, really. The only significant benefit garnered from illegal immigration is lower priced goods and services (a significant but unknown quantity). I repeat: I doubt that this benefit outweighs the considerable (and known) costs of illegal immigration.

It seems peculiar that you demand I prove the lack of benefits to dispute your assertion there are benefits which outweigh the costs. These are? How reliable and certain or these estimates? Contrast that with the KNOWN costs. Increased medicaid, medicare, education, criminal justice, and welfare expenditures.

Palooka

Additionally, significant additional immigration fees would likely cause knowledge based businesses to outsource more jobs offshore. Beware of the law of unintended consequences: high wage knowledge jobs are mobile most can be located offshore. Low wage labor is often geographically restricted (construction, hospitality, food). The potential result of a fee based system could be loss of high wage jobs and a shortage of low wage labor in the U.S. Thus, a fee based immigration system may be counterproductive to U.S. interests.

====

This is probably the most mixed up you've been yet. You must compare Becker's proposal to the CURRENT system. As such, there is no possible way one can construe his proposal to increase high-skilled outsourcing, as it would increase the supply of high skilled laborers IN the USA (thus lowering wages, thus making it less likely to be outsourced, all while lowering the supply of high skilled labor abroad). You are comparing Becker's proposal to a system of totally unrestricted immigration to get your bogus result. Shame on you.

Moreover, you have already been put in your place on the low skilled outsourcing argument. Low skilled work performed by immigrants in the US today is NOT the kind which can be outsourced. Can you name one low skill job, typically performed by immigrants, which can be outsourced easily or at all? As one commenter said when you initially made your weak claim, "Actually, a lot of low paying jobs are not amenable to outsourcing. How do you outsource dishwashers, gardeners, nannies, and janitors? For jobs like these, the absense of cheap labor is likely to lead to automation, not outsourcing."

Michael Walker

Evidence: An authoritative 1997 study by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) concluded that immigration delivered a "significant positive gain" to the U.S. economy. The report is said to be one of the most important on this subject to date. For the full text of this study see http://www.nap.edu . Immigrant Contributions to the U.S Economy:

1 An immigrant and his or her children will pay on average about $80,000 more in taxes during their lifetimes than they collect in government services.

2. Immigrants with college degrees will pay $198,000 more in taxes during their lifetime than they collect in government services.

3. In 1997, the U.S. reaped a $50 billion surplus from taxes paid by immigrants to all levels of government.

4. Without the contribution of immigrant labor, the output of goods and services in the U.S. would be at least $1 trillion smaller than it is today.

5. The total net benefit (taxes paid over benefits received) to the Social Security system if current levels of immigration remain constant is nearly $500 billion for the 1998-2022 period and nearly $2.0 trillion through 2072.

6. Immigrants collectively earn $240 billion a year, pay $90 billion a year in taxes, and receive $5 billion in welfare.

7. Immigrants who become U.S. citizens typically pay more in taxes than native-born Americans. Federal taxes paid by families with a naturalized citizen average $6,580 per year compared with $5,070 for U.S.-born-only families.

8. Businesses founded by immigrants are a source of substantial economic and fiscal gain for U.S. citizens.

9. The average immigrant contributes about $25,000 to local and state governments.

One of the study's most important finding seems to be that immigration has an overall positive effect on the economy. According to panel chairman James P. Smith, a senior economist at California-based RAND corp., "Immigrants may be adding as much as $10 billion to the economy each year. It's true that some Americans are now paying more taxes because of immigration, and native-born Americans without high school educations have seen their wages fall slightly because of the competition sparked by lower-skilled, newly arrived immigrants. But the vast majority of Americans are enjoying a healthier economy as the result of the increased supply of labor and lower prices that result from immigration."

The study reported that while immigrants may use more publicly funded services than they pay in on an annual basis in the states where immigrants are most concentrated, the panel reported that in the long-term on a national level, "the majority of new immigrants and their descendants will add more to government coffers than they receive over their lifetimes. The positive fiscal effects of immigration at the federal level are shared equally by all residents across the nation."

In testimony before Congress last year, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan said, "I've always argued that this country has benefited immensely from the fact that we draw people from all over the world."

Daniel Chapman

I can't find those statistics at the page you listed. I also find it likely that we're talking about legal immigration. We all agree that balanced, controlled, legal immigration is a boon to society. Let's be honest though. When we talk about "opening the border" we're really concerned with Mexican immigration.

http://www.cis.org/articles/2001/mexico/release.html

"That the majority of Mexican migrants earn low wages is undisputed. Therefore, as a group, they also pay lower than average income taxes. Mexicans who reside in the United States also have larger than average family size, so they may consume proportionately more in public education services than they pay in local taxes." - p. 257

"Among recent and prior migrants, Mexican-born migrants feature the lowest levels of formal schooling and English proficiency. Both characteristics are important determinants of labor market success and the likelihood that immigrants will not become public charges. Tables 1A through 1F provide summary education and English proficiency statistics for Mexican migrants, compared to other foreign born, " - p. 264

Read the whole thing if you like. It's the government's study on the effects of mexican immigration produced by the Center for Immigration Statistics. You can just look at the highlighted facts posted on the main page if you like... they're very telling. Mexican immigration, legal and illegal, is a net drain on society.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Become a Fan

May 2014

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31