LA Times Op-Ed on immigration

by on May 15, 2006 at 1:05 pm in Economics | Permalink

I am again writing with the excellent Daniel M. Rothschild.  Read it here, registration is free and (relatively) simple.  Excerpt:

Gianmarco Ottaviano of the University of Bologna and Giovanni Peri of the National Bureau of Economic Research have shown that immigrants and low-skilled American workers fulfill very different roles in the economy. For instance, 54% of tailors in the U.S. are foreign-born, compared with less than 1% of crane operators. A similar discrepancy exists between plaster-stucco masons (44% immigrant) and sewer-pipe cleaners (less than 1% foreign-born). Immigrants come to the United States with different skills, inclinations and ideas; they are not looking to simply copy the behavior of American workers.

Addendum: Here is a link without registration.

1 Robert Speirs May 15, 2006 at 3:17 pm

Illegal immigrants distort the economy in ways that simplistic analysis that treats illegals and legals as an undifferentiated mass doesn’t capture. This analysis is purposely skewed to justify illegal immigration. Illegals have fewer skills and higher rates of criminality. The costs of crime and education and health care have to be factored in. It is indisputable that the availability of illegal labor retards automation and depresses the level of wages, thus impoverishing the economy. Compare the situation with illegal immigration to that which would prevail without illegal immigration, not to that which would be the case without illegal OR legal immigration. This article is intellectually dishonest.

2 spencer May 15, 2006 at 4:41 pm

In december Bush signed legislation that would expand the number of border patrol agents by 10,000.

But in February when he announced his budget we discovered he had only funded an additional 210 border agents.

Now he wants to use the National Guard.

I wonder if he has figured out a way to use the Guard and keep the cost out of his budget — another unfunded mandate for the states?

How can anyone take such a “flip-flopper” seriously?

3 Nancy Lebovitz May 15, 2006 at 6:58 pm

Is tailoring low-skilled?

4 hibiscus May 18, 2006 at 2:12 pm

this is a strange debate.

there are concerns about the resource drain on public health systems caused by undocumented residents, but not about the resource drain on public health systems caused by paying 2x or 3x as much as we need to for health care in general.

there are concerns about workers flouting laws and encouraging crime, but almost a complete pass is given to employers who have used NAFTA to build a full-fledged labor black market. i wonder how many times larger is the value of this market compared to the drug trade. was this the secret intent of NAFTA? it’s hard to believe that a change this large was accidental.

“maria” is 18. her english skills are limited. if she is a legal resident (with extensive exposure to english), much blame for her situation is placed on her teachers. if she is not a legal resident (with very little exposure to english), blame is placed on her. in any case great lengths are traveled to avoid assessing her environment as a cause. this is entertaining, because it seems to be the intention of this contradictory approach to undermine the idea of personal agency – to establish the idea that knowledge is given (or granted), not acquired.

also, apparently we have money to throw at making seriously-enforced physical or legal walls to protect the earning power of high school dropouts, but no money to give those people a better education and to keep the minimum wage somewhere above the water line.

thank you.

5 hibiscus May 22, 2006 at 9:50 pm

i didn’t say to throw money at the schools, i said to throw money at getting those people a better education. kid environment is as much an economic situation, a community situation, as it is about parent skills, parent energy, kid interest, school quality, etc.

overall per pupil spending is junk, whether or not you focus on just those kids who are “at risk” of dropping out. a school that spends tons of money on security and insurance and nothing on counseling, teacher:student ratio, tutoring – that’s an expensive program, but it’s also virtually identical to a jail. some things are well addressed through a school system and some things are impossible. my point was that we cut social programs that would keep those kids in school then throw a lot of them in jail and then use them to demonstrate the need for a wall on the border, as if anyone gave a fart.

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