The labor market effects of immigration and emigration from OECD countries

by on October 7, 2013 at 1:17 pm in Economics, Law | Permalink

Here is a new paper by Frédéric Docquier, Çaglar Ozden & Giovanni Peri, forthcoming in Economic Journal:

In this paper, we quantify the labor market effects of migration flows in OECD countries during the 1990′s based on a new global database on the bilateral stock of migrants, by education level. We simulate various outcomes using an aggregate model of labor markets, parameterized by a range of estimates from the literature. We find that immigration had a positive effect on the wages of less educated natives and it increased or left unchanged the average native wages. Emigration, instead, had a negative effect on the wages of less educated native workers and increased inequality within countries.

A gated version of the paper is here, ungated versions are here.

Yes, I am familiar with how these models and estimates work, and yes you can argue back to a “we really can’t tell” point of view, if you are so inclined.  But you cannot by any stretch of the imagination argue to some of the negative economic claims about immigration that you will find in the comments section of this blog and elsewhere.

And no I do not favor open borders even though I do favor a big increase in immigration into the United States, both high- and low-skilled.  The simplest argument against open borders is the political one.  Try to apply the idea to Cyprus, Taiwan, Israel, Switzerland, and Iceland and see how far you get.  Big countries will manage the flow better than the small ones but suddenly the burden of proof is shifted to a new question: can we find any countries big enough (or undesirable enough) where truly open immigration might actually work?

In my view the open borders advocates are doing the pro-immigration cause a disservice.  The notion of fully open borders scares people, it should scare people, and it rubs against their risk-averse tendencies the wrong way.  I am glad the United States had open borders when it did, but today there is too much global mobility and the institutions and infrastructure and social welfare policies of the United States are, unlike in 1910, already too geared toward higher per capita incomes than what truly free immigration would bring.  Plunking 500 million or a billion poor individuals in the United States most likely would destroy the goose laying the golden eggs.  (The clever will note that this problem is smaller if all wealthy countries move to free immigration at the same time, but of course that is unlikely.)

For the initial pointer I thank Kevin Lewis.

Dave Barnes October 7, 2013 at 1:25 pm

I welcome all immigrants who abide by the same rules that my ancestors did when they got off the boat.

prior_approval October 7, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Well, some people certainly don’t – for example, those Irish were unbelievably un-American, actually believing that they had equal rights to participate as full citizens in American civic life, even to the extent of being idolatrous papists parading along public streets wearing their national colors. And they still do, even today.

And probably the largest group of illegal immigrants, in comparison to their native population, at least during my life time, was that same nationality, where English had been degraded to a secondary language, as the Irish not only promoted Gaelic, but even use to name things, like the Gardaí, instead of using perfectly good English words.

Adrian Ratnapala October 7, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Wow. You mean the NYPD is now the NYGardí?

John Thacker October 7, 2013 at 2:36 pm

As I recall, those Irish immigrants also did un-American things like riot to oppose the draft for the Civil War– a riot that devolved into attacking blacks and abolitionists, whom they blamed for the Civil War. Then the military was called out to quell them.

That was wrapped up in the GOP disdain for the Irish in periods following the war.

John Thacker October 7, 2013 at 2:41 pm

And yes, there’s certainly aspects of the draft that can be criticized (and one can reference the $300 that allowed someone to get out of it.) But I hesitate from saying more, because a libertarian saying good or bad things about either side in that dispute runs the risk of being called racist.

John Thacker October 7, 2013 at 2:57 pm

Although one can say that the Irish immigrants backed the American MacBeth actor against the English actor (favored by American upper classes) in the previous worst riot in NYC history. Naturally that was a remarkably deadly riot over who played MacBeth better. Though of course that was the Irish being anti-English.

TMC October 7, 2013 at 5:47 pm

“Though of course that was the Irish being anti-English.”

Good enough for me.

Chip October 7, 2013 at 5:51 pm

Were the Irish a net cost to the Treasury due to spending on welfare, education and health?

Low skilled immigration + the welfare state = bad idea.

Art Deco October 7, 2013 at 7:00 pm

My great-great granddaddy built and maintained three businesses between 1860 and 1898, married another potato famine immigrant in 1872 (a carpenter’s daughter employed as a small town schoolteacher), and raised four sons who operated the last of his businesses until 1926. Cannot say what he thought of ‘equal rights’ or ‘participating as full citizens’. He was learning his trade and earning a living and building a family. (He was also a pillar of a Catholic parish on the Northeast side, now closed).

PD Shaw October 7, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Me too, no witches need apply.

MD October 7, 2013 at 2:22 pm

No Quakers?

Careless October 7, 2013 at 4:23 pm

Certainly no Papists!

Don October 7, 2013 at 2:30 pm

So they can own black people and must have a notably shorter lifespan?

Personally I prefer rules and laws that reflect the world as it is now and now how it (supposedly) was at some point in the past. I will acknowledge that there seem to be plenty of people in politics who, like you, want to litigate and legislate based on past/fictional ideas of the world, though.

Dave Barnes October 7, 2013 at 2:58 pm

I see that I was unclear in my writing. Re-write time.
I welcome all immigrants who abide by the same IMMIGRATION rules that my ancestors did when they got off the boat in 1752.

Careless October 7, 2013 at 4:23 pm

So whites only, and shoot anyone who complains about taking their land?

Cliff October 7, 2013 at 4:51 pm

So you know when his ancestors got off the boat?? Average lifespan is now a rule?

Steve Sailer October 7, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Much of the immigration debate, such as it is, always turns into arguments over the participants’ ancestors of several generations ago. We see participants work out their feelings of hereditary resentments, guilt, pride, and ancestor worship. While this fascination with the past is interesting in an academic sense, my impression is that I and my descendants are going to live in what’s now the future, not in the past. So my focus has always been on what current trends portend rather than on Ellis Island.

jerseycityjoan October 8, 2013 at 12:08 am

I don’t know what you mean by that.

Nobody can be asked to abide by the rules of 75 or 100 or 150 years ago.

2013 is 2013. Nativve born Americans live in a different America; immigrants pose a different gain and lose to the American people today.

The Bachelor October 7, 2013 at 1:32 pm

“But you cannot by any stretch of the imagination argue to some of the negative economic claims about immigration that you will find in the comments section of this blog and elsewhere. ”

And why not?

You said it yourselves; “Yes, I am familiar with how these models and estimates work, and yes you can argue back to a “we really can’t tell” point of view,”

Just to be sure; is the article claiming that the less-eudcated spanish youth are better off, due to the massive immigration, than they would have been with less immigration into Spain?
It most be all the truck-driving jobs that are created when the immigrants starts working. And not to forget, that fact that all the spanish Einstein now have the possibility of doing Einstein-like work, whereas without immigration on that scale, they would have to work lowwage jobs. Just dont tell the 20% uemployed.

RPLong October 7, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Wow, this post was a misnomer. I clicked to learn about the market effects of immigration and emigration and instead got a criticism of open borders.

DJ102010 October 7, 2013 at 1:57 pm

Tyler’s strategy is interesting here. What’s the proper Straussian reading of this post?
(A) Post is intended to be a critique of open borders proponents (e.g. Caplan), but opens with pro-immigration sentiment to signal that he is friendly to the cause he’s critiquing.
(B) Post is intended to be a critique of immigration restrictionist, but closes with anti-open borders sentiments to signal that he understands that although he’s pro-immigration he’s not an extremist about it.
(C) Both (A) and (B).

I lean toward (A) being the intended message.

Philip October 7, 2013 at 2:13 pm

Or it could be that both are true, and that he’s grappling with cognitive dissonance since being regularly challenged for his pro-immigration beliefs on this blog.

Adrian Ratnapala October 7, 2013 at 2:29 pm

I don’t the we need cryptic interpretation here. Open borders != Pro-immigration. Just like Anarchist != Liberal.

This corner of the interweb seems weirdly blind to that first proposition.

John Thacker October 7, 2013 at 2:40 pm

What about possibilities like “referencing Open Borders advocates in order to shift the Overton Window and make substantially increased immigration seem like the moderate position?” I devoutly wish that increase immigration were the moderate position, but public opinion does not find it so.

Steve Sailer October 7, 2013 at 6:54 pm

Right, there has been a sizable effort in America to shift the Overton Window toward making immigration restriction simply unthinkable for right-thinking people. As Bryan Caplan, an Open Borders extremist, has correctly noted:

“Think about it like this: Steve Sailer’s policy views are much closer to the typical American’s than mine. Compared to me, he’s virtually normal. But the mainstream media is very sweet to me, and treats Steve like a pariah. I have to admit, it’s bizarre.”

Art Deco October 7, 2013 at 8:29 pm

I would be pleased if Caplan would emigrate.

Steve Sailer October 7, 2013 at 9:47 pm

But what other place’s taxpayers would pay Bryan’s salary?

jerseycityjoan October 8, 2013 at 12:18 am

If you want substantially more immigration, I have to wonder what you think the our population is?

Also have you worked out if and when your ideal US population will be achieved if we have considerable more immigration?

Steve Sailer October 7, 2013 at 5:56 pm

Back in the mid-2000s, the Sand States — California, Arizona, Nevada, and Florida — were booming, especially in areas with many immigrants or descendants of recent immigrants, such as California’s Inland Empire. Powerful figures such as George W. Bush and Angelo Mozilo of Countrywide had repeatedly and explicitly framed the expansive mortgage lending of the mid-2000s as a bet on the credit-worthiness of minorities, especially Hispanics, with all the anti-racists on the side of more lending. The booming economies in heavily immigrant areas were seen by pro-immigrationists as proving that only bigots had doubts.

The Sand State mortgage catastrophes of 2007-2008 led to a change of tack toward a purely moralistic case for more immigration. Instead of saying massive immigration was good for Americans, economists began saying more vociferously: It’s evil to care about your fellow Americans. So what about the empirical questions, the important one is moral. We must let in more poor Third Worlders because caring more about your fellow citizens is wrong, wrong, wrong.

Of course, many of these economists are supported by American state and federal taxpayers, but disloyalty to their fellow citizens has become a point of pride now that the Sand State collapse humiliated them in the real world.

Art Deco October 7, 2013 at 6:46 pm

You understand that for the people involved, ‘their fellows’ does not extend beyond their 2d degree relatives and people in the same social class. The guy that replaced their hot water heater is not a fellow anything. He is a pair of hands.

jerseycityjoan October 8, 2013 at 12:23 am

Funny how that works out.

Their fellow Americans are only there to sacrifice.

Other than that, it’s only the people like them that count.

They even forget that the people whose money contributes to their wealth have to count for something. They are quite willing to see just about all of us make Mexican-style wages in a Mexican-style economy. They forget if none of us can buy anything beyond the bare necessities of life — if that — many of them are sunk.

Nathan Smith October 9, 2013 at 7:58 pm

1. Economists never say it’s evil to care about one’s fellow Americans. They say, at most, that it’s good to care about them, but we should also take the welfare of people from the Third World into account.

2. Steve Sailer must certainly know this.

3. Yet he claimed that economists say it’s evil to care about one’s fellow Americans.

4. Steve Sailer is lying.

5. Please stop lying, Steve Sailer. Lying is wrong.

Jlpsquared October 10, 2013 at 10:32 am

How in the world is Sailer wrong? I come from Flint Michigan, and if you think over the last few years economists have not taken a tack towards helping 3 worlds immigrants versus protecting ALREADY EXISTING Americans, you are INSANE. Sorry. It is most notable on the left, but it is growing on the right probably because of voter reasons (the right are religious, hispanics are religious). Now, no one is openly saying don’t care about americans, but that is what they are saying by proxy. The left and most economists tend to lean towards open borders (or some version thereof), which is fine, but they also complain about the only jobs available are service industry jobs!?!?!?! That is where economists lose me. We have over 7% (probably more) unemployment and people are actually arguing we need MORE low-skill labour???? Come on.

jlpsquared October 10, 2013 at 10:33 am

*3rd world

Walter Jeffers October 13, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Silliness. Who says we must worry about the third world? All the worry, money and time on our part, will not end the misery of the third world. Sailer is quite brave in that he speaks the harsh truth.

prior_approval October 7, 2013 at 2:07 pm

So, using data which is more than 15 years old, some of it dating back to before the Eastern Bloc joined the EU, we will discuss what is going on in 2013.

Anybody here still using a computer made in 1998 to access the Internet?

Because the idea that countries like the Czech Republic or Poland where impoverished and/or enriched through emigration and/or immigration seems a bit strange. And such cases would tend to influence one’s data set, one would think. And how would one handle the fusion of East/West Germany – the 90s also being a time of immigration into Germany.

But it isn’t as if economists don’t know how to cherry pick things like dates to get just the result they wish.

(For a bit of flavor of that immigration debate in German terms, note the roles of unions and employers – ‘For the third time in two months, German Chancellor Kohl on January 31, 1997 referred to the “immigration factor” that affects German unemployment levels, saying the influx of 2.5 million foreigners in the last eight years had made it more difficult to reduce unemployment rates.

The number of German workers without jobs reached 4.7 million or 12.2 percent in January 1997, giving Germany the largest number of unemployed persons since 1933. Germany has generous benefits for unemployed workers, an extra 160,000 jobless workers translates to about $5 billion in government costs, or about $31,000 per unemployed worker per year. The US unemployment rate in January 1997 was 5.4 percent. The US added 2.6 million new jobs in 1996, 10 million over the past four years.

As in other industrial countries, there seems to be a split between employers and unions over how to deal with unemployment and immigration. Foreigners have an above average unemployment rate so, unions argue, they are victims, not causes, of high unemployment. Employers, unions argue, inflame xenophobia by preferring to hire “fresh” or new foreigners to unemployed resident foreigners and unemployed Germans.

German unions have since November 1993 called for an immigration policy that would set annual quotas for economic migration, but continue to allow unlimited numbers of family unification immigrants and refugees. German unions also want to eliminate the distinction between the right to live in Germany and the right to work in Germany–all residents should be permitted to work, unions argue.

Leaders of the ruling coalition argued that 1.3 million work visas were granted to foreign workers in 1995, despite high unemployment. German unions counter that most of those work permits were issued to seasonal farm workers, who accumulated the equivalent of 24,000 year-round jobs in Germany in 1995.’ http://migration.ucdavis.edu/mn/more.php?id=1182_0_4_0 )

Cliff October 7, 2013 at 2:33 pm

I don’t understand the relevance of your comment

Steve Sailer October 7, 2013 at 4:00 pm

“So, using data which is more than 15 years old, some of it dating back to before the Eastern Bloc joined the EU, we will discuss what is going on in 2013.”

Indeed. Giovanni Peri is stuck in the past.

errorr October 7, 2013 at 4:41 pm

My best man followed his crazy girlfriend (former) to Germany and fell in love with the place. But his visa was for 3 years and the jobs he was allowed to do were extremely limited and payed crap. He mostly taught bu business English for temp agencies. He wanted to stay longer so he applied to a masters program for economics (in English) Unfortunately he was included in the 50%+ cut after the first year and even though he was a college educated who had inherited a noce nest egg from a rich grandfather he was forced to come back to the US. It seemed crazily over restrictive because he was not from an EU country.

On a side note, I was fascinated that a masters program emphasized weeding out as many students as possible each year. That is what happens if there is no profit motive to ensure enoigh students are paying tuition.

Also the suprising change was that he went from being a Republican/libertarian to someone much more sympathetic to socialism and now more of a European style center-left believer that would probably be described as a classical liberal or neoliberal by many. The autobahn can convince anyone of the wonders of some good ole centerally planned infrastructure.

Cliff October 7, 2013 at 4:53 pm

Classical liberal = libertarian

Andrew' October 7, 2013 at 6:04 pm

They don’t believe in signalling theory of education, they just choose to act like it.

mike October 8, 2013 at 4:45 am

One wonders how anyone who is familiar with the English language could come to believe that neoliberal and classical liberal are synonyms.

JadedRationalist October 7, 2013 at 2:13 pm

“Plunking 500 million or a billion poor individuals in the United States most likely would destroy the goose laying the golden eggs.”

Does anyone have a formal economic model for how this would happen? My biggest objection to people who are pro-immigration is that most people have an intuition that sufficiently many poor foreigners can “kill the golden goose”, but I have never seen a formal model, subject to test and criticism, which tells us exactly how many such people it would take.

JadedRationalist October 7, 2013 at 2:21 pm

But on the other hand, pro-immigration arguments are always supported by formal models which talk about increased GDP, comparative advantage, etc. So we have a situation where the benefits of increased immigration are easy to point out, but the costs are opaque. And whilst we have some idea of how the benefits scale, we have no idea of how the costs scale. Is there some “tipping point” beyond which foreigners quickly destroy the institutions that drew them to the destination country in the first place?

Furthermore, I worry that anyone who might want to say something about the costs of massive immigration might self-censor for fear of being branded racist, elitist, islamophobic, etc.

Dave Barnes October 7, 2013 at 2:21 pm

Let’s open the borders and find out.

Careless October 7, 2013 at 4:31 pm

Let’s start a small scale experiment first. Your house, for example.

Dave Barnes October 7, 2013 at 9:46 pm

OK.
1. Anyone can immigrate to the USA thru my house.
2. I get to charge a small ($100 USD) fee.
3. As they leave my house they have a green card.
4. Denver will be the richer.
5. I will make $5G USD without even working hard.
6. My house (http://www.3968Vrain.com) will be “rode hard and put away wet”. But, I won’t give a shit as I will have $2.5G after taxes.

Steve Sailer October 7, 2013 at 9:49 pm

That pretty much sums up the quality of thought behind the push for the Schumer-Rubio bill.

Andrew' October 8, 2013 at 5:10 am

Steve, to paraphrase Sumner, never reason from anything labeled “Schumer.”

Sometimes I call Lindsay Graham “Schumer” when I want to insult both of them.

dirk October 7, 2013 at 3:21 pm

From the post “The simplest argument against open borders is the political one.”

I suspect he is thinking something along the lines of “too many poor people in the country could elect a Chavez.” How many would it take? Start counting votes. Maybe ask Nate Silver.

JadedRationalist October 7, 2013 at 9:29 pm

Nate Silver uses statistical models based on past elections. If the conditions in a country were to radically change – for example by adding 1 billion uneducated, culturally different foreign people to the US, his models would be invalid. I doubt that anyone would be able to predict what would happen.

mike October 7, 2013 at 10:30 pm

Umm, I think we have the answer: 50 million poor immigrants were enough to tip the balance and elect and re-elect Obama, against the will of a substantial majority of pre-1965 Americans.

Nyongesa October 8, 2013 at 12:27 am

I love making stuff up too!!!

The Anti-Gnostic October 7, 2013 at 3:56 pm

Yes. The one that says price is elastic to supply.

Also, the one that shows the middle and lower classes have not gotten a raise in 40 years.

Steve Sailer October 7, 2013 at 4:35 pm

We can start with a simple exploration of how many non-Americans would want to move to America under Open Borders using the Puerto Rico and Mexico examples. Then calculate how many people in the world live in countries poorer per capita than Mexico. Back in 2005, I came up with five billion. This old article of mine takes a more quantitative approach to these questions than I’ve seen in any of the Open Borders theorists:

http://www.vdare.com/articles/the-five-billion

Andrew' October 7, 2013 at 7:19 pm

Yah but… open borders don’t abolish oceans or create planes.

Steve Sailer October 7, 2013 at 8:32 pm

It’s 1603 miles by plane from San Juan to New York City.

JadedRationalist October 7, 2013 at 9:23 pm

OK Steve, so you have an estimate of how many would immigrate. Did you come up with any kind of model for what would happen next?

What I would really like to see is a model which parametrizes consequences as a function of the number of such immigrants.

Steve Sailer October 7, 2013 at 9:52 pm

I have a very simple model of diminishing marginal returns:

“After only a fraction of that horde had immigrated, the quality of life in America would decline so drastically that life back home in, say, Yemen would start looking pretty good in comparison. America would become like that restaurant that Yogi Berra said got so popular that nobody went there anymore.”

http://www.vdare.com/articles/the-five-billion

Steve Sailer October 7, 2013 at 4:37 pm

Puerto Ricans enjoy Open Borders privilege in the United States, so they make the single best test case:

From the Pew Hispanic Center:

“The 2010 U.S. Census counted 3.7 million people living in Puerto Rico, a territory of the United States.2 This is down from 3.8 in 2000.

“The Hispanic population of Puerto Rican origin in the 50 states and D.C. increased from 3.4 million in 2000 to 4.6 million in 2010. It now surpasses Puerto Rico’s population.”

Art Deco October 7, 2013 at 7:03 pm

Puerto Rican communities in this country are (looked at in aggregate) a social disaster. Maybe we ought to think up a different immigration regime than free immigration of potential AFDC clientele.

Ray Lopez October 7, 2013 at 2:26 pm

Unless I am reading the abstract incorrectly (highlighted below at I.), it seems Prof. TC got it wrong. Immigration would help the less educated natives, in countries that allow it, while emigration would hurt countries that allow their workers to leave (as happens in the dirt poor Philippines, and indeed brain drain is a problem here). So, to use a realistic example: in the Gulf States like UAE (Dubai), allowing Filipinos to do the dirty work of UAE natives actually increases the wages of UAE natives (not to mention increases their welfare), even and especially the UAE unskilled natives. This is good. So why not allow open borders everywhere? The “small country” argument is a red herring. Nobody cares about such small countries, we care only about the big ones. If Andorra does not want immigration that’s fine.

Another problem with the study is it ignores welfare gains, instead concentrating on wages. It’s conceivable that allowing open borders everywhere will result in everybody better off, as alluded to by TC, even if wages are not really affected.

Finally, besides the model being a simulation, full of assumptions, the gains don’t strike me as that much–about 1% to 5%, see II.

I. “We simulate various outcomes using an aggregate model of labor markets, parameterized by a range of estimates from the literature. We find that immigration had a positive effect on the wages of less educated natives and it increased or left unchanged the average native wages. Emigration, instead, had a negative effect on the wages of less educated native workers and increased inequality within countries.

II. First, all simulated values (with the exception of the low scenario for Austria) are positive, indicating that in almost every case, less educated native workers gained from immigration. For some countries with large immigration rates, such as Ireland, Canada, or Australia the gains for the natives are quiet high and range from 4-6%. For other countries with intermediate levels of immigration, such as Belgium, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland the effects are also non-negligible at between 1 and 2%. For most of the other countries, the estimates are negligible and are between 0 and positive 1%.

happyjuggler0 October 7, 2013 at 2:54 pm

the gains don’t strike me as that much

Without going into what their paper does or does not say, focusing on only the gains/losses of people staying in their home country ignores the quantum gains to the people who migrate from a less developed country with low wages to a more highly developed country.

It also ignores the notion that some government costs are effectively fixed (e.g. defense budget) which are then spread out amongst more taxpayers with a higher population, and amongst fewer taxpayers in a country with a resulting lower population.

Wallace Forman October 7, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Future Tyler Cowen in 2113:

“And no I do not support an open right to travel within the United States to New York City even though I do favor a big increase in travel permits, both high- and low-skilled. The simplest argument against the freedom to move is the political one. Try to apply the idea to Topeka, Peoria, Fargo, and Utica and see how far you get. Big cities will manage the flow better than the small ones but suddenly the burden of proof is shifted to a new question: can we find any cities big enough (or undesirable enough) where a right to move there might actually work?

In my view the freedom to travel advocates are doing the pro-travel cause a disservice. The notion of fully free travel scares people, it should scare people, and it rubs against their risk-averse tendencies the wrong way. I am glad that New York City had the freedom to travel when it did, but today there is too much national mobility and the institutions and infrastructure and social welfare policies of New York City are, unlike in 2010, already too geared toward higher per capita incomes than what a true freedom to travel would bring. Plunking 500 million poor individuals in New York City most likely would destroy the goose laying the golden eggs. (The clever will note that this problem is smaller if all wealthy cities move to allow travel at the same time, but of course that is unlikely.)”

Much of what future Tyler says may still be true, but I think some of what he says is absurd and shows us that:
* A regime of open borders needn’t be inherently scary – we have it now inside the country.
* A regime of open borders can be generalized to small locales – small towns have it today.
* 500 million people are unlikely to simultaneously immigrate to a place in a world where people are at all responsive to rents and wages, particularly if that place is being ruined by over-crowding.
* Future Tyler ignores the politics of the dystopia. Were the restrictions good when they were first enacted? If they were originally justified only by xenophobia, would the concerns that now justify their continued application have forced their adoption? If not, why can’t we peel them back slowly, over time?
* Can’t we make any progress on bi-lateral free travel agreements? Isn’t that worth trying, even accepting the problem as stated? Why can’t New York and Chicago exchange citizens? Why can’t Japanese and American citizens negotiate a mutual right to immigrate? Is there really an enlightened policy explanation for this? How does this not take us closer to a world where open borders becomes more feasible?

Errorr October 7, 2013 at 4:44 pm

Brilliant experiment, restrict moving to any place but Detroit! How undesireable is it. Actually I think we shoild allow anybody to come to America but only issue a green card if they work in Detroit or similarly depressed area. That would be in addition to other normal immigration. Detroit is still better than Guatemala.

Chip October 7, 2013 at 5:56 pm

They have this in Canada. Immigrate to Quebec and live there. But they don’t. They move and it’s hard to track.

If California allows illegals from Mexico I doubt they’re going to crack down on illegals from Detroit.

Steve Sailer October 7, 2013 at 5:08 pm

American cities, such as New York, Portland, Evanston, Beverly Hills and Greewich, ferociously restrict the number of people who move there through zoning restrictions. Most wealthy, liberal cities are barely growing in population. Similarly, the most elite universities such as Harvard, Yale, and Stanford, admit a much smaller percentage of 18-year-olds than they did in 1975. For data, see:

http://takimag.com/article/the_fence_around_the_ivory_tower_steve_sailer/print#axzz2h17VZ7kp

John Thacker October 7, 2013 at 2:38 pm

I can accept the point that open borders were effectively different in a day when the cost of moving (both in time and money) were far greater than now.

But didn’t most of Europe have legally open borders before the 20th century? Or was language there (along with a economic cost, though smaller than transporting across an ocean) the real barrier?

Surely immigration could be increased a lot before we reach the open border point.

Z October 7, 2013 at 3:05 pm

For most of European history, mass immigration/migration resulted in a blood bath. That was the natural check on it. Then there was the cultural chauvinism and religion.

The defect of all increase immigration/open border claims is they must pretend culture does not matter. They start with the premise that the natives and new arrivals are merely moist robots ready to fulfill their destiny on command. The cemeteries of the world should be enough to disabuse anyone of such notions, but here we are.

Andrew' October 7, 2013 at 3:40 pm

We aren’t proposing to Shanghai them.

PD Shaw October 7, 2013 at 3:13 pm

I would say that prior to the 20th century, most European economies were still strongly agriculture based with formal and informal limitations on the ability to obtain land. A peasant farmer in Germany was not going to improve his condition by moving to France, but he might in the U.S. where land was available on the market and sometimes free. I’m not sure the nineteenth century German watch repairer: Could he move to Paris and be a success based upon German advantages, or would such a move be idiotic since the French would prefer one of their own?

The Anti-Gnostic October 7, 2013 at 3:51 pm

Before the 20th century, there wasn’t anything like the current welfare state and civil rights laws. Also, citizenship was generally [i]jus sanguinis[/i], not [i]jus soli[/i]. The current regime enables an appalling level of socialization of costs.

The Anti-Gnostic October 7, 2013 at 4:23 pm

Sorry about the tags. jus sanguinis and jus soli :-(

Steve Sailer October 7, 2013 at 6:02 pm

“The current regime enables an appalling level of socialization of costs.”

Right. The greed of special interests is the single most important underlying factor in the establishment’s attempt to shut down dissent on immigration policy by demonizing it as evil.

j r October 8, 2013 at 6:43 pm

Except that almost no one “demonizes” dissent on immigration policy as evil. Lots of people, however, demonize the racialist thinking that underlies your particular take on immigration policy.

jerseycityjoan October 8, 2013 at 8:39 pm

I have to disagree.

There’s a substantial number of people out there who assume if you don’t want continuous high levels of immigration, there’s something wrong with you.

You must a racist, a hater, a Republican, a conservative, not a progressive, not a Democrat — on and on.

I feel that we will be stuck with the illegal immigrants we have, so I often leave comments that focus on future immigration. I may say “future legal immigration” but that is often not processed and I get responses back about illegal immigrants currently here.

Another blind spot is talking about future legal immigration. There seems to be a feeling that we can’t talk about that, that we can’t say we want fewer people, etc. because it would be wrong, because talking about immigration in certain ways is automatically wrong.

It is something to see, at times, how social pressure has closed people’s minds and they feel they cannot go there. And yet what could possibly wrong about talking future legal immigration?

John Mansfield October 8, 2013 at 10:05 am

English-born physicist Paul Dirac did not become a British citizen until his Swiss father naturalized. Becoming a citizen opened fellowships for him that were closed previously and allowed him to leave the Univeristy of Bristol and start studying math at Cambridge in 1923.

Matt October 7, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Is this subject really that complicated?
1. Lifting restrictions on high-skilled immigrants is a free lunch, and the current policies in this area are stupid.
2. Lifting restriction on low-skilled immigrants, under certain plausible conditions (e.g. robust economic growth), can improve the employment/income/welfare of national, non-immigrants.
3. Lifting restriction on low-skilled immigrants, under other plausible conditions (e.g. stagnating growth and stagnating wages in the low-skilled sector), can reduce the employment/income/welfare of national, non-immigrants, while improving global welfare because the immigrants are better off and they send some of their income back home to their even poorer relatives. So, #3 implies a tradeoff for nationalists, but not cosmopolitans.
4. Completely open borders seems kind of drastic and crazy, and completely unnecessary to consider because even modest versions of immigration reform are controversial. So people seriously advocating #4 are just trying to signal, and should be ignored.

Andrew' October 7, 2013 at 3:58 pm

Well, it’s a bit more than signaling. First, you need extreme cover, but that’s not it. A big part of it is explaining to people why their fears are misplaced. We don’t need to import new people to create a populist problem, for example. So, let’s strike at the root.

On the other side (of the border), if our golden goose is our ability to accumulate capital, then another solution is for the emigration countries to get their act together.

Andrew' October 7, 2013 at 4:11 pm

Thirdly or fourthly, and more to your point, we are not on a cotinuum of immigration.

If I were a terrorist I would have almost zero problem with immigrating. If I were a foreign coder it would be a huge problem in my life.

mike October 7, 2013 at 10:35 pm

There is no such thing as a free lunch, so if you think you’ve found one you need to figure out where you went wrong. Also, I doubt you really know anything about the laws that govern “high-skill” immigration.

Ray Lopez October 8, 2013 at 1:40 am

That’s a good insight by mike, in response to Matt’s good synopsis of the problem (though I don’t see what he means by ‘signaling’; many ‘crazy’ ideas like universal suffrage ended up being adopted, and I, as an expat, have no problem living with 100M poor people–I’m in the Philippines now). As for ‘high-skill’ immigration in programmers, it’s driven in the USA by the higher wages asked for by US programmers. You can pay one-half to 1/3rd by employing an Indian/Chinese programmer who is about 75% as good as the US programmer, and for most programs (where getting them to market and fixing the bugs later, when revenue starts coming in from sales), 75% is ‘good enuf’.

Andrew' October 7, 2013 at 3:27 pm

I’m constantly amazed how often I get a chance to disagree with TC.

Why not tell the scared people to go buy a pair?

Ray Lopez October 8, 2013 at 1:43 am

Andrew’ you’re out of control buddy. Take a break. You are now posting one-line zingers in response to NOBODY’S post. You’ve jumped the troll shark!

Andrew' October 8, 2013 at 5:03 am

I’m allowed to have my own comment. I’d like to hear why TC makes a virtue out of the necessity of realizing Americans are becoming candy-ass pussies.

dirk October 7, 2013 at 3:32 pm

From what I can gather, Sailer’s main argument that poor immigrants make life harder for middle-class Americans is not so much that they decrease wages for native workers but that they increase the cost of living for middle-class families, mainly due to the increased need to send one’s kids to private schools or to move to an otherwise more expensive community with better schools. I have no idea if there’s much merit to this argument, but I’m yet to read a serious critique of it.

The Anti-Gnostic October 7, 2013 at 4:05 pm

Markets clear, but don’t you dare point out how much more people pay for white neighbors.

Just like human evolution is fact, but only proceeds from the neck down and stopped 40,000 years ago.

Andrew' October 7, 2013 at 4:06 pm

The critique is the solution: We could have people pay for school. Good kids cost basically nothing. Unvested kids could start with two behavioral strikes. We already expel other kids all the time. These kids just start out on probation. Just make sure these folks know that they aren’t allowed to increase everyone else’s costs by messing up the schools they didn’t invest in. Since this would be ‘mean’ to do we’ll just keep being stupid: make them sneak in and live underground and stay in the black market, etc.

Give me a problem that is an actual immigration problem and not a government problem made worse by immigration because we don’t have the right market. It’s the not fixing this that causes the scary-type immigration. And if you don’t believe that, then just tie every immigration reform to some welfare state rollback or better-yet a vesting plan.

Steve Sailer October 7, 2013 at 4:18 pm

There are a large number of problems, some of them highly significant, that are exacerbated by mass immigration, such as education, housing costs, low wages, affordable family formation, carbon emissions, crime, inequality, sprawl, traffic, litter, and so forth. Restricting immigration would be the simplest, most plausible way to make a start on many of those problems.

In contrast, the conventional wisdom response to dissidents pointing out the downsides of mass immigration is “All we have to do is fix the schools! And all we have to do is fix the preschools! And all we have to is fix global warming!” and so forth and so on.

Andrew' October 7, 2013 at 4:20 pm

Carbon emissions?

Who do you think you are talking to?

Smog I’ll buy.

Andrew' October 7, 2013 at 4:23 pm

Which also illustrates, by the way, that almost none of your examples refer to national immigration. But I’m not here to argue specific examples.

News flash, we had tens of millions of immigrants and then it reversed during the recession. Exactly how many less would we have had by “really meaning it” versus fixing the welfare state incentives that we actually need to fix far more than the immigration anyway?

Zod October 7, 2013 at 9:05 pm

How do low wages combine with high housing costs, litter, and so on? Low wages should enable people to build houses more cheaply, clean up streets more cheaply, and so on. What you need is the right incentives.

Steve Sailer October 7, 2013 at 9:16 pm

We had a massive experiment in California in 2003-2007 with importing illegal immigrants to save money on the labor costs of building exurban houses for people, a large fraction of them Hispanic, trying to get their children away from school districts dominated by the children of illegal immigrants.

How’d that work out, anyway?

Zod October 7, 2013 at 10:29 pm

Steve, could the mistake have been to provide free schooling?

Zod October 7, 2013 at 10:40 pm

And preventing minors from getting construction/cleanup jobs?

Steve Sailer October 7, 2013 at 10:44 pm

All we have to do …

Andrew' October 8, 2013 at 4:59 am

Is make Steve Sailer king and he will decree that the tens of millions of illegal immigrants are hereby illegal.

Andrew' October 8, 2013 at 5:06 am

Steve:

1. We HAD open borders, pretty much, for low-skilled neighbor immigrants and we got a few tens of millions. So, honest open borders would not likely invite 500 million more immigrants. So, that hypothetical can be set aside.
2. I’m curious exactly why we disagree on this: you consider it easier and more important to fix the immigration+entitlement+tragedy of commons problem for the few tens of millions while I find it more important if maybe slightly harder but also critical to the immigration issue of fixing it for the 300 million that are already bankrupting the government. Why do you think we disagree on this?

Steve Sailer October 7, 2013 at 4:07 pm

For a long time, I’ve been pointing out that many standard statistics of income, poverty, or cost of living fail to fully get at the underlying question of most interest: standard of living. Now, a new study from the Public Policy Institute of California and Stanford that includes a better cost of living measure and government benefits measure finds that California, home to Silicon Valley and Hollywood, has the worst poverty rate of any state in the country, with vast Los Angeles County having the worst poverty rate in the state. The absurdity of Los Angeles County, with all its advantages, having a very bad poverty rate ought to be evident to everyone.

Here’s the study from last week:

http://www.ppic.org/main/publication.asp?i=1070

Andrew' October 7, 2013 at 4:26 pm

That’s good, but it’s also the home of some of the wealthiest places and the advantages might cause the influx of poor that gets tallied as poverty.

Andrew' October 7, 2013 at 4:35 pm

For the record, I’m on-record as pointing out the fairly obvious observation that illegal immigration really is a Democrat election strategy. That’s why we get the poor immigrants and not enough skilled immigrants. That’s why we can demand 47 vaccines for school attendance but can’t ask people to get an ID to vote. I could go on.

So, the real solution might be a re-orientation of the two-party electoral system away from “has money” vs “wants money” to something…anything else. But the fact that just about everything you point to remarkably involves either direct redistribution (ACA, etc.) or “their side is evil so elect our side to protect your interests” that’s not likely.

Claudia October 7, 2013 at 4:39 pm

Come on, Steve.

“Our estimates show that although many find it difficult to make ends meet, Californians—particularly children—would look strikingly more impoverished without the assistance provided by safety net programs funded at the federal, state, and local level.” from the report abstract.

The report argues how important safety nets are … they work!! … not what the poverty rate “ought to be” as you imply. You are entitled to your view, but there’s no need to hijack others’ research for it. Also ever heard of compensating differentials? Internal borders are open so people would move if it were so bad there, right? And why doesn’t the counterfactual include their home country standard of living? Every generation adjusts to new challenges and environments, we are good at this, it’s life.

Cliff October 7, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Sure, we’ll just adapt to the new challenge and environment of our new president Mr. Chavez. No problem, it’s life.

Claudia October 7, 2013 at 5:06 pm

I agree with TC that managed immigration is an easier pill to swallow than a free for all of open borders, but the idea that we can freeze frame life in some glory day that never existed or was only glory for a tiny, tiny fraction of the world’s population is far more deluded than accepting change.

msgkings October 7, 2013 at 5:19 pm

Pearls before swine, Claudia. You’re too good for this place.

Andrew' October 7, 2013 at 6:08 pm

But I can’t tell how she is disagreeing with Steve vis a vis dirk. Mood affiliation.

Claudia October 7, 2013 at 6:23 pm

My comment was purely to push back on Steve’s misuse of that paper. I suspect that tolerance is the answer to dirk’s question and it’s gradual and uneven. Finally I grew up on a hog farm and was taught to see pearls everywhere.

mike October 7, 2013 at 10:54 pm

“the idea that we can freeze frame life in some glory day that never existed or was only glory for a tiny, tiny fraction of the world’s population is far more deluded than accepting change”

This argument could apply equally to any opposition to any policy or any change whatsoever. It’s typical econosperg bullshit. Don’t like Communism? Hey, stop pining for the glory days and adapt to the new paradigm, moron! Nuclear winter? You’re just afraid of change.

Andrew' October 8, 2013 at 5:50 am

Claudia,

My comment was directed at msgkings.

Nathan Smith October 9, 2013 at 7:55 pm

Suppose Juan moves from Mexico, where he is earning $3,000 a year, to Los Angeles, where he earns $12,000 a year. No one else is affected.

Juan has increased the poverty rate in Los Angeles. But he has not made anyone in Los Angeles, or anywhere else, poor. In fact, no one was harmed at all. The change is all upside. Yet it would increase the poverty rate in Los Angeles.

Do you see why this kind of argument is wholly without merit? Immigration might cause high poverty rates in the affected cities, and yet be Pareto-improving.

The Anti-Gnostic October 9, 2013 at 10:50 pm

Have you ever heard of the supply-demand curve? Or that people take up space and generate waste? Or that immigrants get old and sick too?

Brian October 7, 2013 at 5:22 pm

An increase in the cost of living is a decline in the real wage.

dirk October 7, 2013 at 6:27 pm

If the cost of having children has risen faster than other costs generally then “real wages” haven’t declined as much for those without children. Without children I don’t have to worry about what school district l live in, for instance, which perhaps also affords me a shorter commute to work.

Steve Sailer October 7, 2013 at 9:18 pm

That’s an excellent long-run solution: not have children.

Andrew' October 8, 2013 at 5:21 am

Or, we just close our eyes and wake up stumbling into a world of school choice never having to look back in amazement that we made people move based on that crazy notion of school districts.

I was just commenting to the wife about how people will still argue with me “oh you can’t just send kids to any school” and now we can, more or less.

Ray Lopez October 8, 2013 at 1:50 am

LOL that’s a good riposte of racist SS’s argument, and of course sarcastic, but perhaps a critique of it would be the works by Thorstein Veblen on status, and the popular admonitions to ‘keep up with the Jones’. The upshot: rich western countries are not as “happy” as poor countries such as the Philippines where I live now. Here, people dance, sing in the streets and at work–even the sales clerk at the department store will dance and hum a tue–where in the uptight USA do they do that (unless they are black, lol, hat tip to SS)? Plus despite guns everywhere, very little gun violence. In short, it’s much more laid back, when first-order approximation Econ 101 would tell you that people should be more miserable.

Ray Lopez October 8, 2013 at 1:52 am

My post was in response to dirk’s: dirk: “From what I can gather, Sailer’s main argument that poor immigrants make life harder for middle-class Americans is not so much that they decrease wages for native workers but that they increase the cost of living for middle-class families, mainly due to the increased need to send one’s kids to private schools or to move to an otherwise more expensive community with better schools.”

Andrew' October 8, 2013 at 5:52 am

I guess Dirk was being more sarcastic than I originally thought. That’s a shame. Has Dirk ever helped manage a church or political party or…a school?

Steve didn’t make up this notion that a group of people build something and then if it turns out nice other people try to extract from it. Some of the extractors are governments, some are just people.

Andrew' October 8, 2013 at 5:58 am

The US doesn’t really have any advantages over anyone else. It’s just system. Already half or more of the country has no idea there is a golden goose and the other half just worships it like the Coke bottle that fell out of the sky. It takes basically zero immigrants to make things worse because we are already reverting to the mean.

TallDave October 7, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Open borders are great economically, the problem is the people from countries with bad institutions move to the countries with good institutions, and tend to bring their failed institutions with them. That’s a problem in a democratic republic.

errorr October 7, 2013 at 4:54 pm

I know this is a standard line but how true is it? What level of immigration would we need for the effect to be truly severe enough to damage our institutions before the succeeding generations become integrated. in the end it just seems racist and/or classist. I agree woth the sentiment of Hayek that bad change is better than no change at all as the status quo is the quickest way to stagnation and decline. Of coirse it is incumbent upon everyone to try and influence change positively in the best manner but if the people want something bad for them then there is no moral strength in obstruction.

Andrew' October 7, 2013 at 6:10 pm

Oh. Well not seeming racist to people who protest too much is more important than anything I can think of.

Pithlord October 7, 2013 at 8:21 pm

Did Hayek really say “bad change is better than no change at all”? If he did, I can feel even less guilt about not getting through much of his prose, because he was obviously an idiot.

Art Deco October 7, 2013 at 8:56 pm

The Nobel Prize was awarded to an idiot (who also managed to land a job at the London School of Economics)?

TallDave October 8, 2013 at 11:14 am

Good question!

In my ideally designed libertarian republic, it would hardly matter at all, because the Constitution would require 90% supermajorities to pass most restrictions on civil liberties, including tax hikes. Under more democratic constitutions, it would matter a lot.

Nick_L October 7, 2013 at 3:48 pm

And Tyrone’s opinion would be..?

Steve Sailer October 7, 2013 at 3:54 pm

“during the 1990′s”

Ahh, good old Giovanni “Who Cares About Post-2007″ Peri …

Simon Cranshaw October 7, 2013 at 3:58 pm

Given that Tyler agrees that immigration should be more free than it is currently, I wonder how much point there is to arguing the open border case here. Still, the idea that there is some set of restriction of movements which is beneficial to the world sits very badly with me. I guess one question I would have is what destroying the goose means in this case. Can we have an example where borders have been too easy and the world has suffered to help clarify? Military invasions do not count. This should be a flow of individuals looking for work. Secondly I’m troubled by the moral implications. I suspect that Tyler feels his own movements should not be restricted. Why should others be? If Tyler deserves this right over others, why is that? This is as I say a distant theoretical point and to change things at the margin it is not the Tyler’s of this world that need persuading. Still his ideas here bother me and I would like to hear Caplan’s response. But perhaps it’s not really worth debating higher freedom vs full freedom now when the important issue is lower freedom vs higher freedom.

JadedRationalist October 7, 2013 at 9:46 pm

Freedom of speech is an important institution in Europe which has come under attack because of Muslim immigrants. Certain terrorist attacks such as the 7/7 bombings in London would not have happened without Muslim immigration. Paedophilia (against white girls predominantly) is justified on religious grounds by Muslims living in the UK, again by Muslim immigrants.

Whilst it is politically incorrect to say it, some immigrant communities are consistently associated with crime, which is harmful to existing residents of a destination country. I will not go into details in this, as it is a highly taboo subject.,

The Anti-Gnostic October 7, 2013 at 4:21 pm

Tyler seems to have matured sufficiently in his thinking to recognize that current immigration, welfare and civil rights policies mean we’re not just importing foreign nationals, we’re importing foreign nations. I don’t know why he’s still convinced that a million legal immigrants a year is not enough. One million people is a huge number, even for a very big place like the United States.

Immigrants cluster for leverage. At 5% of a locality, you can probably get them to assimilate. At 10%, they can leverage their numbers and extract concessions. At 20%, the majority begins retreating. After that, you are effectively giving them their own country.

Also, it’s funny how libertarians talk in terms of “open borders” instead of the ideologically correct “no borders,” because in the case of the latter people get to draw their own.

Careless October 7, 2013 at 4:42 pm

Well, sure, libertarians don’t have the votes now, and they’re talking about letting a vast number of people less libertarian than the average American into the country, but they’ll have the votes later because… wait, let me go ask the underpants gnomes, I missed a step

msgkings October 7, 2013 at 5:13 pm

A truly consistent libertarian wouldn’t be advocating for the freedom of human movement as some kind of electoral ploy. He or she would be doing so because they truly champion liberty, in this case the liberty of a human being to live wherever they want to, without encroachment from a State.

Many of those who post here claim they are ‘libertarian’ when in fact their xenophobia proves they are just typical Republicans who like the sound of that label better, thinks it makes them sound smarter than Sarah Palin and George W Bush.

I hope the poster who calls himself ‘mike’ calls me a shitlib now.
Andrew’ is showing that he’s a more principled libertarian, as he seems to be less frightened of immigrants per se and more focused on how they might make a poorly run State run even more poorly.

The Anti-Gnostic October 7, 2013 at 5:40 pm

I don’t think you have a clue about Western political philosophies or institutions.

There is no a priori right to live anywhere you want. There’s not even an a priori right to travel. In a libertarian society all movement off your own property requires the permission of other landowners.

msgkings October 7, 2013 at 5:42 pm

When did you get elected Guy Who Decides Our A Priori Rights?

Careless October 7, 2013 at 5:41 pm

But only a really foolish libertarian would advocate the single most inevitably anti-libertarian policy possible. Yes, the libertarians and Democrats can probably team up to open the borders. The Democrats will get what they want. The libertarians will not.

msgkings October 7, 2013 at 5:43 pm

A ‘libertarian’ who wants the State(s) to decide where a person can live and work isn’t a truly consistent libertarian.

Careless October 7, 2013 at 5:49 pm

Sure. But being foolishly ideological is being foolish, not being virtuous.

Careless October 7, 2013 at 5:50 pm

I mean, even Sasha Volokh would tax people to pay to stop the meteor

msgkings October 7, 2013 at 6:00 pm

‘Being foolishly ideological is being foolish’: I couldn’t agree more.

Could you please convince the extreme Right and the extreme Left of this?

Andrew' October 8, 2013 at 3:59 am

If libertarians had there way it wouldn’t be a problem. Noone thinks we should have open borders around airport security, school offices, your threshold, etc. Privatize what should be privatized and then we’ll talk. You just can’t give me nothing but open borders and then expect me to be happy.

Harold October 7, 2013 at 8:29 pm

Accusing people who object to foreigners moving into their country of having a phobia of foreigners is like accusing people who want to have their own biologigical children instead of adopting of having a phobia of children who aren’t their own.

Zod October 7, 2013 at 8:51 pm

The problem with this kind of statement is that most compatriots are already strangers, with high genetic diversity and personality differences. You can argue that some immigrant cultures may cause negative political externalities, but that’s not the same thing as equating compatriots with family when most of them are strangers you disagree with about many things.

The worst political externality may come from immigrants thinking in the same ingroup-outgroup patterns on identifiers like conservative Islam.

Steve Sailer October 7, 2013 at 5:23 pm

Tyler says:

“The simplest argument against open borders is the political one. Try to apply the idea to Cyprus, Taiwan, Israel, Switzerland, and Iceland and see how far you get.”

The crucial example is the third one in that list. In the advanced world, Israel is the country that is the most ferociously anti-undocumented workers. Indeed, the government of Israel calls them “illegal infiltrators.” Israel builds the scariest-looking and most effective border fences and it has the most aggressive detention and deportation policies.

Informally, Tel Aviv even has the occasional pogrom against illegal immigrants. Legal immigrants from Ethiopia are pressured into getting Depo-Provera shots to reduce their fertility.

But I’ve never seen much enthusiasm among Open Borders economists to campaign for Open Borders in Israel, which would be the clearest test case of their sincerity. It’s almost as if they fear what would happen to their private funding if they did.

Art Deco October 7, 2013 at 8:59 pm

Uh, Maybe because they do not live in Israel or care much about what goes on there?

This

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jan/06/israel-fence-golan-heights-syria

Is ‘scary looking’?

Steve Sailer October 7, 2013 at 9:13 pm

The razor wire-topped Israeli fences patrolled by soldiers with automatic rifles, such as the new one on the Egyptian border to keep out sub-Saharan immigrants, are a lot scarier looking to people thinking about climbing over them than the American fences on the Mexican border.

Andrew' October 8, 2013 at 4:02 am

Aren’t they also doing it a little for security reasons?

See, what we are doing is the opposite. If you can carry a jug of water through the desert you can come right on in. If you have a degree and want to participate in the economy then it’s “hold on there bucko!”

Steve Sailer October 10, 2013 at 1:13 am

Israel’s new fence on the Egyptian border is to keep out the surge of black economic migrants from sub-Saharan Africa. The Mubarak regime used to take care of that for Israel, but the post-Mubarak governments didn’t bother, so Israel built a giant, highly effective fence in record time.

The West Bank fence was to stop suicide bombers, and it has proven quite effective even though suicide bombers are, by definition, “highly motivated” to cross it.

Art Deco October 9, 2013 at 4:38 pm

Illegal immigration causes problems, but Mexicans seldom have politicidal or genocidal ambitions with regard to the native population of the United States (or really much baseline hostility at all). For about 70% of the Arabs on the West Bank and Gaza, it is a matter of pride that the Jews be butchered and expelled or subjugated.

johnleemk October 7, 2013 at 11:29 pm

“But I’ve never seen much enthusiasm among Open Borders economists to campaign for Open Borders in Israel, which would be the clearest test case of their sincerity. It’s almost as if they fear what would happen to their private funding if they did.”

As a contributor to OpenBorders.info, I will take it as a compliment that you believe we’re funded by any person or institution (public or private) other than ourselves.

Joseph Hertzlinger October 8, 2013 at 2:25 pm

Of course, Israel is pro-immigration … if you think of the West Bank Settlers as illegal aliens. (There is a close resemblance between the rhetoric against the settlers and the rhetoric against more stereotypical illegal aliens.)

OTOH, there is the question of the propriety of expelling anti-immigration activists (which Israel last did on a large scale in 1948).

Mark October 7, 2013 at 5:32 pm

Niall Ferguson recently got into some hot water for arguing that Keynes’ economic philosophy was flawed and he didn’t care about future generations because he was gay and didn’t have children:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/04/niall-ferguson-keynesian-economics-gay-childless_n_3215427.html

Maybe we can extend that argument to Tyler Cowen. From what I understand, Cowen doesn’t have any children of his own but raised his wife’s child by another man. Maybe that’s why he’s pro-immigration and supports cuckoldry on a national scale.

grownup October 7, 2013 at 6:04 pm

Grow up.

Man October 7, 2013 at 6:50 pm

Tyler should man up.

Andrew' October 8, 2013 at 3:48 am

What Tyler should do is donate to a sperm bank.

Andrew' October 7, 2013 at 6:14 pm

Or…young kids are a pain in the ass for someone early in a world class career…and not even

mtndew October 7, 2013 at 6:46 pm

But he was raising his wife’s kid, no?

And what world class career? Wasn’t he just a professor at George Mason University?

Andrew' October 8, 2013 at 3:48 am

Young kids are different from older kids.

“Just” a professor is plenty enough for a much higher percentage than average to either go childless or wait until late 30s 40s or even 50s to have kids and usually only one in my observation.

Chip October 7, 2013 at 6:46 pm

Why do studies and models get discussed more than real world examples?

California is a perfect test case. How has immigration from mexico affected:

1) budget
2) voting patterns
3) liveability

Has the state’s GDP exploded to an extent that mitigates effects on the above?

The answer is pretty obvious.

For immigration I would prefer a policy similar to Singapore. High levels of arrivals but strictly vetted for skills and income, with little or no recourse to welfare and benefits.

Incentives matter. And in the case of California I think too many of those incentives are geared to getting free stuff.

Zod October 7, 2013 at 8:39 pm

You don’t need to vet for skills and income, you just need to prevent the recourse to welfare and benefits. For criminals, you can threaten with exile, for the rest you can offer arbitrarily cheap jobs, including now-banned jobs like prostitution.

Incentives do matter, but you don’t have to be high-skilled to add value.

mdc October 7, 2013 at 6:48 pm

So your argument is that immigration is ok so long as it only mildly to moderately degrades the US’s living standards, social cohesion and political and economic institutions? But severe degradation is obviously a total no-no…

Andrew' October 8, 2013 at 4:04 am

And that is the cosmopolitan, pragmatic, utilitarian, pareto position.

If you just care about people, letting people move into the US makes everyone better off as long as you don’t “cook the golden goose.”

The trick is threading the needle. If you aren’t Tyler Cowen then you can choose a different set of design constraints.

Timothy Gawne October 7, 2013 at 7:09 pm

“Plunking 500 million or a billion poor individuals in the United States most likely would destroy the goose laying the golden eggs.”

BUT THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT OUR CURRENT POLICY IS DOING.

According to the US census, without the changes in immigration law post-1970, the US population would have stabilized at about 240 million. Hence, ALL US population growth past 240 million is due to this recent government policy. It has already increased the population by about 80 million: it is projected to increase it by a quarter-billion (to a total of a half-billion) by around 2040, and by 3/4 of a billion by the end of the century (to a total of over a billion). And if the cheap-labor immigration reform bill passes, it will go up even faster.

It is not the fraction of the population that is foreign born that counts, but the total increase in population due to specific immigration policy (look up ‘demographic momentum’).

We don’t have unlimited resources or an open frontier any more. Decades may seem like a long time but building infrastructure is a lot slower than you might think, even if the bankers weren’t killing real investment. We need less immigration, not more.

Art Deco October 7, 2013 at 7:10 pm

The problem with this discussion is as follows: this is a weblog devoted to the discussion of economic questions, but the economic component of what is at stake is a small one. Benefits to the extant population of the current immigration regime are there but too small for the vast majority to notice (and non-existent for the working class).

The real problem is cultural and social, subjects about which economists have no more to say than anyone else (and habits of mind which prevent one from saying it). Diversity undermines social solidarity and immigrant populations are used by agents of the New Class as fodder for their schemes. Bad business.

Patrick L October 7, 2013 at 7:40 pm

“Plunking 500 million or a billion poor individuals in the United States most likely would destroy the goose laying the golden eggs. (The clever will note that this problem is smaller if all wealthy countries move to free immigration at the same time, but of course that is unlikely.)”

There are 800 million people in the world who would move if they could move, and not all of them would want to move here.

America probably could handle a billion people comfortably, as significant parts of the country are underpopulated. Structuring that inflow is a problem, but a a goal of North America having 15-20% of the human race by 2200 (as opposed to 8%) would go a long way to reduce inequalities produced by restrictions on the trade of labor across borders, this could be accomplished by allowing say, 3-5 million per year.

Chip October 7, 2013 at 8:05 pm

Are immigrants merely identical units to be plugged into a counting machine?

There’s a world of distance between 3-5 million arrivals from urban China and the same number from rural Central America.

I’d argue that even millions of rural poor immigrants would be a net positive if they weren’t immediately enveloped in entitlements and then vote to enhance these entitlements.

But that’s not going to happen. A significant part of the US political class now seems intent on using entitlements and immigration to permanently tip America into an expansive welfare state. And those opposed can’t do more than insist they’re not racist.

Zod October 7, 2013 at 8:34 pm

It’s ironic that egalitarian forces prevent the improvement of those lives. Out of sight, out of mind.

asdf October 7, 2013 at 8:35 pm

I’m probably not going to read through the entire 50 pages as it gets increasingly spergy and rediculous, but a few notes:

1) Most of this study was done with a timespan of the 90s, which if I’m not mistake was a time of huge economic boom.

2) The follow up data for a couple of countries was from 2000-2007. What happened in 2007 again?

3) Ironically, two of the three countries they choose as case studies to look back on in the 2000′s were Spain and Greece…how they doing?

4) Isn’t it a little strange they are talking about wage increases for uneducated natives at a time that wages decreased for this group (quite dramatically, though maybe this all goes back to the part where they cherry pick heights right before recessions as ending points).

P.S. Your embarrassing yourself with this stuff Tyler. If this is an attempt to crypto be against immigration you’d be better off just not talking about it. If this is just toadie food, you could at least be a bit more honest of a sell out.

Steve Sailer October 7, 2013 at 9:23 pm

“The follow up data for a couple of countries was from 2000-2007. What happened in 2007 again?”

You can’t blame Giovanni Peri for not noticing, since he has been in a coma since the day before the first California subprime lender collapsed in the winter of 2007.

radical blogger October 7, 2013 at 9:39 pm

the best nations in the history of the world are small, white and relatively homogeneous–denmark, iceland, sweden, norway, switz et al. As those nations have received more more immigration as of late, the less homogeneous they are, they have become lesser nations.

Where is the examination of the evidence, scientist?

As immigration has flooded into america, have things gotten better for the majority? I would argue not.

Nyongesa October 8, 2013 at 12:53 am

The majority of first nation Indians are with you on this.

Mickey Kaus October 8, 2013 at 12:25 am

Here is a respectable study suggesting a considerable negative effect, on youth employment–e.g. more immigration raises unemployment. http://tinyurl.com/3npxse5 I suspect the more you focus on poor/low-skilled/younger populations the more you will find a negative effect, as losers losses aren’t masked by the winners’ gains (the way they are in an average of everyone).

Steve Sailer October 8, 2013 at 1:59 am

Here’s the abstract of the paper that Mickey cites:

The Impact of Low-Skilled Immigration on the Youth Labor Market

Christopher L. Smith
Federal Reserve Board of Governors
December 2009

Abstract
The employment‐to‐population rate of high‐school aged youth has fallen by about 20 percentage points since the late 1980s. The human capital implications of this decline depend on the reasons behind it. In this paper, I demonstrate that growth in the number of less‐educated immigrants may have considerably reduced youth employment rates. This finding stands in contrast to previous research that generally identifies, at most, a modest negative relationship across states or cities between immigration levels and adult labor market outcomes. At least two factors are at work: there is greater overlap between the jobs that youth and less‐educated adult immigrants traditionally do, and youth labor supply is more responsive to immigration‐induced changes in their wage. Despite a slight increase in schooling rates in response to immigration, I find little evidence that reduced employment rates are associated with higher earnings ten years later in life. This raises the possibility that an immigration‐induced reduction in youth employment, on net, hinders youths’ human capital accumulation.

http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/feds/2010/201003/201003pap.pdf

The Bachelor October 8, 2013 at 3:36 am

Dear Tyler

Did you even read the paper or just the abstract?

Do you have any comments to the critisism mentioned above by “asdf”?

Andrew' October 8, 2013 at 4:07 am

I’d ask how could you possibly control for everything for an economy-wide study of immigration that will obviously correlate positively with a booming economy and negatively (as we saw when the Mexicans reversed flow) with a recession.

But THE major criticism is and always is “here is the superior paper.”

asdf October 8, 2013 at 9:18 am

Pretty much all “Big Calculation Studies” are garbage in general. I’m not going to say they are totally worthless, but certainly this one is.

There is usually some synthesis between logical theory, empirical studies, and on the ground observed reality. When you’ve got to twist and contort some of these to comply with the others its usually an alarm bell. For instance the above study starts with a bad logical theory (just look at their assumptions), cherry picks the data to match it, and doesn’t care at all about real life observation.

Jørgen Modalsli October 8, 2013 at 4:30 am

Tyler’s question: “can we find any countries big enough (or undesirable enough) where truly open immigration might actually work?”

Undesirable enough: Yes. Svalbard, an archipelago in the Norwegian Arctic, has a mean summer temperature of 4 degrees Celsius, plenty of polar bears and around 2500 inhabitants. The rules on immigration are detailed here:

http://www.sysselmannen.no/en/Visitors/Entry-and-residence/

“Everyone may, in principle, travel to Svalbard, and foreign citizens do not need a visa or a work or residence permit from Norwegian authorities in order to settle in Svalbard. ”

However:
“Even though neither a visa nor a work or residence permit is required, everyone has to meet certain conditions in order to live in Svalbard. These conditions are outlined in a specific set of regulations from 1995 called “Regulations concerning rejection and expulsion from Svalbard”. Among other things the regulations state that The Governor can reject persons who do not have the sufficient means to support themselves. Therefore, it is advisable to secure housing and employment before deciding to settle in Svalbard.”

Also, you might need a Schengen visa in order to actually get there.

Al B October 8, 2013 at 9:22 am

I could not find any discussion in the economist’s paper on whether the wage effects were stated in real or nominal terms. If the wage effects for the US are given in nominal terms, then it seems to me the impact of US immigration has been to keep wage levels essentially flat or negative in nominal terms. The paper itself says it doesn’t capture the extent of illegal immigration and specifically illegal immigration to the US from Central America. That’s really crucial for drawing any policy conclusions relative to US immigration effects. I’m skeptical the paper has any value for the discussion on US policy.

The Bachelor October 8, 2013 at 11:55 am

Sorry, but nobody cares about that.

Its the abstract that matters, and it is pretty clear; immigration is good for everybody.

Hence immigration in any kind of numbers is good for everybody all the time no matter what else is going on. You are not supposed to ask question regarding the economical benefits from immigration – Tyler is pretty clear about that.
If anything, you can mention that politically, mass immigration is a bad idea.

shocked October 25, 2013 at 12:31 pm

i’m pretty sure that the economists were clever enough to use real wages for this analysis. further, although i think your skepticism is very well appreciated here, i’m sure you are aware of the fact that the exclusion of illegal immigrants is simply due to data limitations – not because they were forgotten to include – and implies for the estimates that they are lower bounds (in absolute values). So, of course it would be nice to include illegal immigrants in the analysis, but it is not “crucial for drawing any policy conclusions”!

nl7 October 8, 2013 at 8:12 pm

I don’t buy the “small countries can’t take unlimited migrants” argument. Rhode Island has no legal means to block migration from the rest of the country, including the South, the Midwest, and all the other much bigger states with lower average salaries, yet it isn’t unbalanced. More to the point, the biggest cities (which are geographically smaller than most states) are not absolutely swamped with migrants despite offering better paying jobs than rural and suburban areas.

There are lots of brakes on immigration, including job availability, housing stock, accessibility, etc. Immigrants tend to go where there are jobs, either because of an interview or a relative who has a connection. If there are no jobs, they are unlikely to visit. And people who travel for the promise of short-term work are typically going to look for some sort of housing situation first, so as a general rule immigrants go to places where they know a relative who will put them up. If a region has a housing shortage or job shortage, immigrants are less likely to visit there than other places. Obviously refugees from horrible places will be less cautious about movement, but generally immigrants will go to places there is room for them to live and work. I don’t buy the argument that most immigrants will crowd into a place without a thought for jobs and homes. You are discounting the human agency of migrants.

Thursday October 11, 2013 at 12:24 am

In case you haven’t noticed, Rhode Island isn’t that different from the rest of the United States.

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PeaceRequiresAnarchy (Will Kiely) October 12, 2013 at 3:53 am

Tyler Cowen: “In my view the open borders advocates are doing the pro-immigration cause a disservice.”

Does he mean that *on net* they are doing the pro-immigration cause a disservice or does he merely mean that *some aspect* of what they are doing harms the pro-immigration cause?

The latter claim is definitely believable, but the former is completely absurd. If the activities of the open borders advocates, on net, are hurting the pro-immigration cause, I’ll eat my hat.

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