Does immigration expand or contract the welfare state?

Bryan Caplan reports:

If you look at the fifty United States, however, immigration has no detectable effect on TANF/AFCD, K-12 education, or Medicaid spending.  This is true for both per capita and total spending…

He is drawing on a new Cato study (pdf) by Zachary Gochenour and Alex Nowrasteh.


The state data clearly shows that *diversity* contracts the welfare state. That's why open borders is a libertarian's wet dream: "Imagine there's no country, just billions of people from a thousand cultures in a Darwinian struggle". - John Rand Lennon

Leaving aside optimum level and type of immigration, we do need to remember that "free trade" has a lot of overlap with "open borders." We have billions of people from a thousand cultures in a Darwinian struggle (and/or cooperation) now. The saga of the Planet Money T-Shirt is excellent on this. With ultra-low transportation costs, many goods get shipped around the world a couple times as part of their production.

The whole point of a country is to make the struggle less Darwinian for those inside it.

yes, but you are taking the perspective of the common working class american.

But this headline is written from the perspective of Capital, the corporations and the rich investors who BUY labor.

How dare you take the perspective of the working class american citizen!

That's a clever bit of sophistry. Indeed free immigration appears similar to free trade - isn't it just the importation of labor services?

The problem with that is that imported people get the benefits of public goods. A television set doesn't get utility from national defense, drinking water, a justice system not to mention publicly provided private goods like education.

That isn't to say there aren't benefits from immigration, but the calculus of the cost-benefit analysis is contrived to avoid many costs and free riding. If we could tax the places of origin of these people, that would address a lot of my concerns. As it is, those countries are relieving themselves of unwanted dependents.

Frankly, I would accept millions of Mexicans into this country if we could trade in our deadbeats.

Isn't the typical immigration complaint about jobs? And usually as if maquiladoras did not exist.

That isnt my complaint. I think American employers hire them because they are hard working people who take jobs many Americans will not take. At this point, though, if Americans wanted to take those jobs, they are pretty much out of the loop.

My complaints about illegal aliens is that they are breaking our laws, failing to pay their share of taxes, consume our public goods, lean on our welfare system. But most importantly they pollute our culture with the political values that made their home countries places they wanted to leave. They vote (yes, I said vote) in blocks. They picket and protest for benefits to which they are not entitled.

I don't know any other country on the planet besides the US and Israel that takes so much flack for the audacity to enforce their own immigration laws. We have tremendous problems with our future financial obligations, and we really will end up like Greece or Argentina if we don't address the problems soon.

Are there studies to support those claims?

I see no reason to give "no study" equal weight with the above study. It is even worse to give no study and pontification higher weight than actual studies.

Bryan Caplan is a Jewish activist who is engaged in ethnic warfare against America/Europe. Why don't we open Israel's borders first? this is not left vs right, GOP vs Dems, Socialism vs liberty. This is war against White people.

Why do hostile globalist elite defend Israel as a Jewish ethnostate with Jewish only immigration, but ravage White majority Europe/North America into a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural Gulag with non-White colonization?

The world is 93% non-White, only 7% White. But 3rd world colonizers are aggressively advancing their agenda to annihilate gullible Whites, just as China annihilates Tibet.

How long will gullible Whites cuckold for murderous anti-White elite, who confiscate our guns, infiltrate/subvert our banks/FBI/CIA, indoctrinate White kids in academia/mass media, plunder White jobs/wages, & butcher White soldiers in bankrupting wars?

“Native” Americans! invaded from East Asia. Yellow & Brown races committed 10-times more genocide, slavery, imperialism than Whites. Since Old-Testament, Whites have been victims of Jewish/Crypto-Jewish, Turkic, Muslim, N.African imperialism, slavery, genocide.

Gullible Whites should reject subversive anti-White ideologies -libertarianism, feminism, liberalism- & hostile slanders of racism. Peace to all humanity, but White people must organize to advance their interests, their fertility, their homelands. Spread this message. Reading list: , , ,

No, Caplan is a moral supremacist. I doubt he cares about race. He just thinks he's better than everyone else.

But you are right about one point. I would respect Caplan if he would go on record as being in favor of open borders for Israel. Doubt he has the guts, but I'd respect him if he showed the courage of his convictions when it comes to Israel.

Actually whites are mainly from the Middle East and the Caucasus region. They invaded Europe and displaced most of the indigenous European hunter-gatherers, similar to how the American Indians were later displaced.

No, the weather wiped out the palaeolithic population. Cooler weather, invasion of trees loss of large fauna. So, do NOT permit tree immigration. It's not just Sonny Bono and the Kennedy guy.

"immigration has no detectable effect on TANF/AFCD, K-12 education, or Medicaid spending."

Immigrants have children who go to school. I'm highly skeptical of the claim that there is no detectable effect on K-12 education.

That and every emergency room looks like a Tijuana bus station. But, I'm sure they are paying cash for those services.

Dude, if every Emergency Room was like the Holy City of Tijuana, I'd be spending more time in them.

I'm quite dubious of the implied headline.

US Whites are more conservative than immigrants. Conservatives, all else being equal, would increase the welfare state less.

Ergo, sans immigration, the US the welfare state would grow less.

(E.g., I think McCain and Romney both won white voters handily. (Romney more so).)

Or... shift the electorate to the left and policies should be expected shift to the left.

Corrected: "US Whites who live in states with a lot of racial diversity are more conservative than immigrants." US Whites who live in large, homogeneous clusters with other US Whites tend to be more liberal than immigrants.

So immigrants, on average, are more liberal than average. However, the more immigrants, the more conservative the whites in the neighborhood become. If you turn most of the whites in the country conservative, you are going to end up with a conservative country. Or maybe a civil war.

Wow. I thought I was just making crap up but I finally read the article and it turns out my conclusion is the exact same as Caplan's!

"The simplest story is that immigration has two roughly offsetting political effects: Although immigrant voters are a little more pro-welfare state, their very presence makes native voters a little more anti-welfare state."

Although Caplan doesn't seem to care or worry that the political divisions will be drawn along racial lines. I tend to think that would be a bad thing.

But the implication is that when immigrants come in, whites tend to "turn" more conservative on account of how they now want to be racists, so they have to sign on to the whole conservative agenda since conservatives are the party of racism.

Seems to me a more plausible (although not necessarily correct) reasoning would be that as immigrants come in, they bring the complexity of integration with them and they tend to move into poorer neighborhoods first -- in other words, there's a lot of problems that the government shows up to "help" with.

What sure seems to be the case to me is that people who are very liberal tend to be the folks that have not had first or even second hand experience with dependency upon the welfare state. I know this goes against the talking points of both parties, but I know a lot of liberals who are very big on big government assistance to the poor who have absolutely no clue how that works out for the poor in the real world, generally they've not met anyone who is poor, it's all theory to them.

So if white people have a lot of immigrants move in near them and see how very helpful the federal government can be, it might well turn some of the previously liberal because it was all theory whites into conservatives.

Which explanation would favor a revolution over a civil war.

David Friedman made a great comment on Caplan's blog. Another explanation is that when immigration is more open and welfare is too generous, then there could indeed be adverse selection in the types of immigrants that are attracted. Thus, the native population may vote for less welfare precisely to avoid such negative selection. So, the reduced support for welfare need not be motivated by animus, just understanding of incentives.

Friedman also drew a great analogy to interstate competition within the US. Note, that it's not the case that all the poor people in the US flood into the states with the most generous welfare, despite the open borders between states. Welfare benefits are endogenous rather than fixed, and an equilibrium is reached. Great things: markets, spontaneous order, and free choice.

"Corrected: “US Whites who live in states with a lot of racial diversity are more conservative than immigrants.” US Whites who live in large, homogeneous clusters with other US Whites tend to be more liberal than immigrants."

Alternatively states with a lot of conservative whites tend to have pro-growth and pro-business policies. These policies make it easier to expand the workforce and create jobs. So immigrants tend to head to conservative states because that's where they can get work. As far as I can tell Vermont, Minnesota and Iowa were pretty liberal well before the immigration increase starting in the 1980s. And Texas, Arizona and Florida tended to pretty conservative well before then.

Right: the fundamental paradox of American politics these days is that

- Effective Republican policies at the state and local level create low paying jobs, which lure in low skilled immigrants, whose kids vote Democratic, dooming the GOP in the long run (see California).

- But low skilled immigrants and their descendants can't generate enough wealth and certainly don't pay enough taxes to pay for expensive Democratic policies.


Not that I want to reply, because you clearly subscribe to different logic than non-scared humans, but I love this quote:

"Effective Republican policies at the state and local level create low paying jobs". Hear, hear.

Worse: Republican policies create sub-minimum wage jobs, meaning workers then need to rely on government subsidies.

I love the continuing theme that California, a clear economic powerhouse and center of American innovation, is a cautionary tale.

Watch out friends, or you too could end up rich and liberal!

Watch out friends, or you too could end up rich and liberal!

You're talking about the same California that has the highest poverty rate in the nation, right?

Texas and Florida tended to be much more racially diverse than Vermont, Minnesota and Iowa well before then. Even if you believe conservative economics are better for the economy, it is pretty clear that the *reason* states reject liberal welfare economics is that the voters care less about helping those of a different race. So even if you believe it is change for the good, it is change for the good for a bad reason. A country which is politically divided along racial lines is probably not politically stable over the long term.

"it is pretty clear that the *reason* states reject liberal welfare economics is that the voters care less about helping those of a different race."

No, that's not pretty clear at all.

Caplan: "Although immigrant voters are a little more pro-welfare state, their very presence makes native voters a little more anti-welfare state.”

I don't see anything having to do with a "different race" in that comment.

2/3 of natives are white, 9/10 of immigrants are non-white, so the statement holds true if you exchange "white" for "native" and "non-white" for "immigrant". furthermore, the statement holds true for most of Europe and most of the 50 states in the US if you use the categories "white" and "non-white" : whites are more liberal when in states/countries that are homogeneously white and turn more economically conservative when you add more non-whites to the mix. test it yourself.

"Texas and Florida tended to be much more racially diverse than Vermont, Minnesota and Iowa well before then."

I would recommend reading Albion's seed. Long story short: American regions were settled by four distinct English sub-groups: Puritans, Quakers, Cavaliers and Scotch-Irish. Those regions tend to be liberal to conservative in that order. Going as far back as the English Civil War, the Puritans and Quakers were heavily Republicans and the Scotch-Irish and Cavaliers were heavily Loyalists.

This Red-Blue America divide goes back really really far. Way before racial minorities were every an issue, in fact even before America was settled. We've been fighting the same war for 400 years. Conservative states are conservative for much deeper reasons than simply living being surrounded by racial minorities. The causation runs the other way, conservative states have a lot of racial minorities, because their ancestors were fine with hereditary slavery. Whereas the ancestors of those in liberal states tended to be repulsed by the institution.

"whites are more liberal when in states/countries that are homogeneously white and turn moreeconomically conservative when you add more non-whites to the mix. test it yourself."

Ok, I'll test it myself.

Idaho, Montana, North and South Dakota, Wyoming and Iowa are all conservative and heavily white.

California, Hawaii (the least white nation in the country), New York, Maryland, Washington DC are all liberal and have large minority populations.

The stated hypothesis fails to be supported by the data.

"The causation runs the other way, conservative states have a lot of racial minorities, because their ancestors were fine with hereditary slavery. Whereas the ancestors of those in liberal states tended to be repulsed by the institution."

There may be some truth in that, but c'mon, this is an economics blog. Slavery persisted in the south mainly because of king cotton and a labor shortage (since a freeman could always go further west and get their own plot of land to farm). And a lot of non-Southerners were heavily involved in the slave trade.

It's true the South is more naturally hospitable to slavery, but it's not happenstance that the Quakers and Puritans didn't settle there. There were limited Quaker and Puritan settlements in the South and Caribbean, and virtually all of them didn't participate in owning or trading slaves. As a consequence they were at an economic disadvantage relative to slavers. Hence the reason they mostly settled in the North, where not having slaves put them at little disadvantage.

Rated "mostly true" on the Truth-O-Meter: 'Red State Socialism' graphic says GOP-leaning states get lion's share of federal dollars

Of course, feel free to be "skeptical" and "dubious" of that data too, guys.

Well if it's Republicans gobbling up all the federal money, Democrats have a wonderful means of both hurting their ideological opponents and making them see the light: slash federal spending. Then Republicans will get a lot less money, and likely be converted to believing in the benefits of a large federal government once they stop getting their goodies.

I like to think that part of what makes me liberal is that I don't have a desire to hurt my ideological opponents...

Good point, and of course there are lots of people who are poor and/or liberal living in majority conservative states.

So john, did you just discover the effect of progressive taxation on higher income Liberal states?

Did you just stipulate that liberal states were better at making money?

"Did you just stipulate that liberal states were better at making money?"

Historically, yes. Wall Street is located in New York after all. The Ivy League and it's abundant supply of millionaire lawyers were all educated in Liberal states.

I've never denied that Liberal's can be as Greedy as anyone else.

And yet it isn't those high income, high net tax, states that have the greatest complaint. It works for them (us).

Probably just smarter and better at making money (who doesn't want to make money?), buy I'm biased.

Sure, Wall Street is full of very smart people who are very good at making money. So, is Silicon Valley for that matter.

That same piece of BS has been circulating for years. A state can be red or blue by a single vote, and many are tinted by less than a two percent difference. States are arbitrary delineations.

I suppose when Reagan won 49 states that Minnesota and DC were carrying the entire nation's tax burden, no?

Transfers are from rich to poor, and the poor are predominantly blue. The median incomes of blue and red teams are fairly similar.

BTW, the same dumb argument is also often used with education.

The chart is certainly not divided by "a vote or two" differences.

That's not the point. We distribute transfer payments to individuals, not states. Since the 16th amendment, we have taxed individuals, not states.

Go back to the obvious counter example I provided. Was Minnesota supporting the entirety of US social welfare spending by itself from 1985 though 1988?

Our cities which produce the vast majority of all income generated by a small percent of their citizens are filled with net negative contributors, the majority of whom vote blue.

We may often disagree, but until this point I've given you credit for enough intelligence to see through this blatant and deliberately deceptive innumeracy.

If you showed me data that individuals who tend to vote red are more likely net beneficiaries, then we would have a discussion. But even that proves very little; people do not always vote according to the unidimensional motives of blind self indulgence that is often assumed. People have values.

Moreover, an entire body of wconomic literature shows that individual preferences are not expressed in collective choice such that they satisfy reasonable expectations of a voting system.

Plain observation should make one wonder why West Virginia receives such a disproportionate share of government spending. The answer has absolutely nothing to do with how those citizens voted in the last four presidential elections.

Poor white people tend to vote Republican. That's one data point for you, if your position is that only Democrats are getting the bennies. It's silly to say that you won't be convinced unless you see data showing that _more_ poor people vote Republican than Democrat, because I agree with you that there are myriad reasons someone votes one way or another, "values voters."

Anyway, I have to quibble with your statement that what matters is that we transfer payments to individuals, not states. The policy decisions of whether to participate in programs and to what extent are often made by leadership at the state level. So of course it matters what states do. The elected representatives of red states, who are sometimes by a very large margin Republican, continue to be takers. For example, every state participates in Medicaid, but it is actually an optional program. The now defunct federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program was an optional one for states. And I'd estimate that a lot of the "taker" states are not tinted by a 2 percent margin--they're pretty deep red: MS, LA, AL, AR, OK, SC, KS, ID.

Yep. For some reason people like to pretend that a state being Red or Blue on the map means everyone there votes that way. Everyone in Texas is a Republican! Everyone in New York is a Democrat! Well I guess the reason is the one you're pointing out: it's a cheap way to try to discredit the opposition by claiming they are hypocrites.

Number One on that chart, New Mexico, is now Blue, as every person there now votes Democrat.

Am I misunderstanding, or are you basically saying, "The data don't conform to my prior assumptions; thus, I will choose to ignore the data?"

1) I think the headline gets way out ahead of the data, which is pretty small bore.

2) The data is not that relevant for welfare per se as education spending per pupil (which will be the largest expense of the 3 and the one that the states have the most control over) is largely outside of what most people believe to be welfare as people erroneously believe education is a public good.

3) Because of my existing prior that immigration has moved the US electorate (and California and other parts of the West) significantly to the left over the last three decades (Romney did as well as Reagan in 1980 among whites, for instance), it implies that whatever effect the authors claim to be seeing (or rather not seeing) it has to be pretty small.

4) So the data may well be right, but the effect of immigration on the politics of the populace is overwhelmingly clear. Which makes me think that what is being measured in the data is not a factor in state / local elections.

5) So not ignored, just deemed irrelevant to the headline which, again, got way way out in front of the data.

There are only 14 pages in the main part of that study, but numerous formatting errors. Did no one bother to proof read it? Perhaps this was due to a bad pdf conversion, but surely someone should proof the paper before posting it online. I proof read documents before emailing them to co-workers. It's basic professionalism.

I'm not saying this makes the paper any less scientific, but it does lead to a credibility issue. It looks like someone just hastily wrote up a conclusion and pushed it out the door to make a deadline.

mass immigration IS a form of the welfare state--the welfare state for corporations. But you don't take that perspective, do you? Big surprise there..

FYI -- they are not slaves.

non sequitur much?

If we increase our population by a million people but there is no detectable increase in welfare spending, doesn't that mean we've de facto reduced the welfare state as a percentage of our expenditure or of our economy? Pretty unrealistically drastically?

How can it be true for both per capita and for total spending, since there are so many more capitas?

Am I being math illiterate again? That doesn't make sense to me.

"Am I being math illiterate again? That doesn’t make sense to me."

No, it doesn't make sense to me either. I smell a contrived result. The belief that adding immigrant children to K-12 education doesn't raise the cost is ridiculous.

Federal and state money to schools is paid on a per student basis. Adding students raises the costs in a nearly linear fashion.

Not when you are adding students who don't speak English.

There is a reason why high dropout rates are concentrated in particular neighborhoods.

I don't follow you. If a student attends a school for a day then the school is allowed a certain amount of additional funding. Furthermore, even illegal immigrant children tend to go to school through elementary school. The high dropout rate doesn't kick in until the teenage years.

Im sorry, I wasnt clear.

I agreed with everything you said except the last sentence. Adding students raises costs at an increasing rate past a certain point. This is true in general for a representative studenr and especially so for a 'special needs' student, e.g, ones who dont speak English.

Jointness of supply creates nonrival consumption up to a point, but in my experience that threshhold is far below average class size. Im sorry I dont have immediate results from a research paper on when education quality begins to degrade with more students. Does a number less than 25 sound reasonable?

If there was a group that shared the same passion about arguing against immigration and the downsides of massive influxes of population from poor, dysfunctional societies, they could produce more convincing reports in the other direction.

Except that social scientists who do, such as Harvard Ph.D. Jason Richwine, tend to get fired for crimethink.

In contrast, nobody ever gets in career trouble for slapping together some happy-clappy report on how immigration bring more vibrant magic to our lives.

Too bad truth is so racist.

Their results section suggests that immigration might lead to fewer welfare benefits for immigrants. That's one way of solving the quandary: you can have a welfare state and mass immigration so long as you don't give the immigrants full citizenship for an extended period of time, and thereby limit their access to the welfare state.

The apartheid solution.

I'm not trying to demonize the other side with that comment by the way. I just don't see how you can manage massive low skilled immigration to a high welfare state without either large tax increases on the existing high skilled citizens or some kind of bifurcated welfare system.

Switch to non-citizenship dependent taxation. You live here, you buy things here, therefore you pay in. Problem solved.

It seems like a distasteful arrangement to me, on its face, but it may actually be the most reasonable and practicable compromise solution - if done well.

I tend toward the mostly-open-borders and minimal-welfare-state views. But if we are going to have a welfare state regardless, then I'd rather have mostly-open borders than closed borders. If the only way to do that, given the welfare state, is to limit the access of immigrants to welfare benefits, it's probably a worthwhile tradeoff. As long as there is a reasonable time period within which the immigrant can attain full citizenship and thus full welfare benefits, yeah, I think I am okay with it.

Yes, it's kind of tiring reading every time it's immigrants fault that immigrants don't pay (enough) taxes, not the IRS.

Open boarders gal all the way, but this is the chink for me.

Borders, good grief.

"Open boarders gal all the way, but this is the chink for me. "

Whoa, what a comment. LOL.

Das racist!

She must be busy.

And here I was worried about a spelling error. Fabulous. . . . . .

But that's not the system we have.

After five years, legal immigrants get access to all the benefits. About the only things they can't do is vote and they can't sponsor as many categories of relatives for a green card as naturalized citizens.

Did anybody in Congress even mention getting rid of automatic birthright citizenship for the children of people here illegally or temporarily in all the talk about immigration reform last year? No. There were some bills but they went nowhere.

We are set up to be taken advantage of by cheap labor employers and various pressure groups. I have heard others who advocate positions similar to yours but I do not see how these ideas become a reality in the US. In any case, there's over 300 million of us and many are out of work or underemployed at wages that are too low. Why should be bring in huge numbers of new people anyway?

The Bryan Caplan argument was that immigration can negatively impact the host but the host has no moral basis to block it.

This article is trying to build the case that immigration doesn't have a negative impact.

That seems inconsistent.

Don't like darkies. Want palatable justification.

California has the highest percentage of immigrants of any state. California's massive bloc of Electoral Votes went to the GOP candidate 9 out of 10 elections from 1952-1988. Since 1992, the Democrats have won easily six straight times.

So, if Immigrants voted GOP, you'd be waving them in?

Some people might, but I doubt SS cares.

It doesn't matter so much which party they vote for as what they vote for - conditions that made their homelands places they wanted to leave.

The Irish, Italians, Poles, Germans, Jews, etc all attacked the political status when they arrived. The Chinese in San Francisco are now so entrenched in power, that city may not have a non-Chinese mayor for decades.

But maybe there's a confound in those 9 out of 10 elections.

In two of those elections (1968 and 1972), the presidential candidate was Nixon, a California native.

In another two (1980 and 1984) the candidate was Reagan, an adopted son of California, a former president of the Screen Actor's Guild, a guy with friends in high places all over Hollywood (e.g. Lew Wasserman), a former state governor, and a former Democrat turned Republican.

It's not unreasonable to think that, even in those 10 elections, California was not quite as Republican as it seems.

Yeah, it ain't all immigrants, but probably a significant contributing factor.

You aware that Democrats control about 2/3rds of the California legislature and the California GOP is road kill?

Texas remains solidly Republican for now, but that is due to extraordinary white solidarity: in 2012, white Republicans in Texas voted 76-24 for Romney over Obama.

For documenting links, see my review of Tyler's recent Time magazine cover story on Texas's luminous and leguminous future:

So if Tejas flips to blue permanently, does the GOP lose the White House forever or do you think they could pick up enough Midwestern states to win with that strategy?

The Rockies seem to be trending blue too, and Arizona can't hold out forever. Florida may also be questionable.

Yeah. I definitely think R's are locked out of the White House for a while unless the party makes some serious changes soon. Right now Dems don't even need Texa, but watch out for when they take it, that just might be what reforms the GOP.

This whole mass immigration thing isn't working out so hot for Republicans.

Of course, Marco Rubio is here to tell Republicans that they just need more hair of the dog that bit them. Just pass the Schumer-Rubio amnesty bill and Republicans will be back on top. And if you Republicans don't believe Marco, just ask his good friend Chuck Schumer. If Republicans can't trust Chuck Schumer, Barack Obama, and Luis Gutierrez for political advice, who can they trust?

The GOP will probably be done before TX flips anyway. Which as Steve notes is a longer way off due to more White solidarity. The GOP has lost VA due to immigration. It goes unnoticed but the NoVa suburbs are full of Dem leaning Asian migrants. The GOP is about to lose Georgia for similar reasons maybe as soon as 2016. When that happens it's lights out GOP.

Folks keep focusing on illegal immigration when the real nemesis is legal immigration. In hindsight Kennedy's immigration law was a stroke of genius from the Democrat's perspective.

But them the real question is what will politics be like in a one party state. Is the current state of California politics, the model for the national politics in the future? Or is Chicago?
As the U.S. becomes a one party state, will politics regress into a fight among different ethnic/economic groups over entitlements, who pays for them, and who receives them?

I believe that is THE big question.

In California maybe, just maybe, there's a bit more fiscal restraint from Democrats (e.g. Jerry Brown nudging the Democratically controlled legislature not to spend quite so much; LA's Mayor Garcetti pushing back against union dominated department of water and power on behalf of ratepayers, etc). Maybe, just maybe, we'll see a larger trend where there are fiscally careful Democrats and fiscally liberal Democrats, and a rift develops within the party. Perhaps, one day, we'll see a truly multi-racial/multi-ethnic, truly fiscally conservative (but still socially liberal), middle class political party emerge and separate from the Democratic party. And that party will have about as much political success as the current day Republicans, because there will only be eleven people in it ...

You don't think younger, white immigration from other parts of the country, associated with the DC boom, has just as much to do with NoVa flipping political allegiance as Asian immigration?

I'm sure there is an impact but I'd suspect among even young Whites moving to DC there is more political heterogeneity. Nationally Romney won Whites under 30.

CATO grasping at straws, with what appears to be a relatively terrible model and terrible study.

The most obvious problem with their findings, besides the methodology, is what they allude to themselves: "immigration" means something different in the US than it might in Europe. When you talk about "immigrants" to the US you're talking about legal immigrants. Legal immigrants to the US tend to be mainly European or Asian, and mainly tend to be from relatively higher levels of educational achievement. These are not the sort of people who tend to end up on Welfare programs.

The second group, illegal immigrants, tend to be shut off from Welfare benefits, and tends to be mainly young single males which are not going to affect K-12 education in any substantial way (in most states).

So while some of their "explanations" might make sense theoretically, they are far from complete and their "study" doesn't give any insight at all (since not only is it far too under-specified and poorly done, but it shows "no effects". No effects doesn't doesn't affect impact Welfare one way or another. It just means that you couldn't find any effects, which is not surprising given the model)

All we have to do is legalize the illegals so they are now eligible for welfare.

I am afraid that the legal immigrants often come from poor backgrounds too.

Here are the top 5 sending countries for Green Cards and how many came from what continent in 2012:

Mexico - 146,406
China - 81,784
India - 66,434
Philippines - 57,327
Dominican Republic - 41,566

Americas - 407,172
Africa - 107,241
Asia - 429,599
Europe - 81,671

All Immigrants 1,031,631

Oh yeah and about those sponsors legal immigrants have -- they only have to have an income that is 125% of poverty level. Obviously many sponsors are completely unable to cover major expenses for the immigrant. When have you ever heard of these provisions being enforced:

"When you sign the affidavit of support, you accept legal responsibility for financially supporting the sponsored immigrant(s) generally until they become U.S. citizens or can be credited with 40 quarters of work. Your obligation also ends if you or the individual sponsored dies or if the individual sponsored ceases to be a permanent resident and departs the United States.

Note: Divorce does NOT end the sponsorship obligation.

If the individual you sponsored receives any "means-tested public benefits," you are responsible for repaying the cost of those benefits to the agency that provided them. If you do not repay the debt, the agency can sue you in court to get the money owed. Any joint sponsors or household members whose income is used to meet the minimum income requirements are also legally responsible for financially supporting the sponsored immigrant."

Yes the legal immigrants are usually from "poor" backgrounds as well (compared to the US levels, how else could they be), but have higher educational achievements than illegal immigrants and than minorities already in the US, and thus are far less likely to end up on Welfare.

Also most legal immigrants probably don't come here as the result of sponsorship. And those that do, it is not likely that they rely on their "sponsor" for more than a few weeks until they get settled on their own.

My main point is that there is no reason to assume immigrants...would affect Welfare. Or illegals for that matter. CATO's "study" doesn't take into account any demographic characteristics of these people, they don't have any time lags to figure out how these things affect each other in time, nor do they treat these "time-series" data in any way (or even bother to figure out what the characteristics of this time series are)

This was clearly done to push a policy agenda and nothing more. So for Byran Caplan to be citing it is a bit...well... disappointing?

I am afraid the rosy view of poor legal immigrants being much better candidates for future entry into our middle class just isn't justified. In many cases, the legal and the illegal immigrants come from the same background. A lot of people granted green cards in recent years were relatives of those who received the 1986 amnesty.

You have to have a sponsor for the family-related immigration. You do not get to come here just because you sister is here. She has to put in the paperwork. There are no educational or English language requirements for the family related green cards. Combining that with today's current low job creation and the disappearance of many middle class jobs, any thought that future legal immigrants who come here with high school diplomas or less (of which there are many) will ever make much more than minimum wage isn't realistic. They will qualify for things (after the 5 year wait) for Food Stamps, Medicaid, housing assistance, etc. and they will put in for them.

Not all legal immigrants are family members or otherwise people sponsored by existing immigrants. That's my point: on average, they are more educated and less likely to be on welfare than illegal immigrants. On average, because many come here through the Green card lottery for example or other somewhat more regulated means which allow only a "higher caliber" immigrant through. Illegal immigrants, on the other hand, come mainly from 1 source (Mexico) and almost exclusively have little education.

There's just no evidence that they end up on "minimum wage jobs".

Overall my point was that it is not surprising that "immigrants", as measured here, would not have an impact on the direct Welfare costs. The whole point of attracting "higher quality" legal immigrants is to prevent that. While illegals don't affect it because they are illegals. What happens with the next generation, is a different story, but this CATO study is just awful to begin with and is not even worth commenting as to how it can figure out anything of the sort.

I'm just surprised at how "bad" CATO's work usually is. Anything to push their policy agenda. (PS: And I say this as a former legal immigrant, now citizen, in the US. So I'm not some anti-immigrant type. It is just sensible to expect certain results depending on who you let in)

PS: And to add, a large number of those receiving permanent citizenship are former temporary visa holders which they received due to their educational background (i.e. former H1B holders). So it's not all grandmas from Mexico.

From what I've heard about the affidavit of support (having been on the hook for one), it's a joke. No one in the marriage visa community had ever heard of it being enforced.

Because I am too lazy to read the paper (though I scanned the regression table), how do they count the costs incurred by the children of immigrants born here "legally"? I would assume that would swing the numbers a non trivial amount depending on which side of the leger you place them.

We're supposed to believe that the American-born children of illegal immigrants magically reach American averages. Jason Richwine got fired for pointing out all the evidence that that doesn't happen on average within the first four generations.

I remember Michael Clemens blasting Richwine's methodology for counting anchor babies as immigrants, which sound logic would dictate if you were interested in calculating the cost/benefits of immigration.

Actually, it was Clemens linking to Nowrasteh!

"Many unauthorized immigrants are married to U.S. citizens and have U.S. citizen children who live in the same households. Counting the fiscal costs of those native-born U.S. citizens massively overstates the fiscal costs of immigration. "

That tells you all you need to know about what they think about the fiscal cost of American born children of illegal immigrants. Do you think Nowrasteh et al would count anchor babies as American if they were a net benefit? I doubt it.

The immigration debate would be a lot clearer if it wasn't plagued by cognitive dissonance.

In Canada, immigration is largely praised for increasing multiculturalism and diversity. But if you then argue that, sure, different cultures also bring different belief systems and that includes a greater support for government and the welfare state that many immigrants depend on, well then you're a racist.

Open borders would work without a welfare state (particularly free at use healthcare as in Canada). Remove this incentive and you get a different type of immigrant, as in Singapore, where they earn more than the native population.


Yeah, the immigrants are coming for the healthcare...

I lean left and agree with what you wrote. I know quite a few others like me who would concur.

I wish this country had a third "socially liberal, fiscally conservative" party.

Kinder, gentler national socialism, outlawed as soon as the Left realizes the implications.

More like corporate fascism, at the mercy of torches and pitchforks once the Tea Party sloganeers, religious zealots, and gun-totin' rednecks figure out they've accomplished nothing more than carrying the water of the rich.

What percentage of the people in each ethnic group are on SNAP, Medicaid, section 8 housing, and the other programs?

Ever received SNAP, white/black/Hispanic, R/D/I: 15/31/22, 10/22/17. Women twice as likely as men over all racial categories.

I remember when ten years ago, the Democrats were doomed and Republicans had a thousand year reign ahead of them. Now Republicans are doomed and Democrats have just begun their thousand years. It's just the iron law of demographics man. People's skin color, ethnicity, and sexuality determine all of their political views. Gay? Well you favor more government spending and minimal abortion restrictions. Just how it is.

I assure you, these trends were well known 12 years ago (10 years ago is already past the window you're thinking of). No one was talking about the Republicans maybe winning California forever after 2008.

Well of course no one was talking about California going Republican. California has a substantial population of people with Hispanic ancestry, which means they carry the Democrat-voting gene. That's just science.

It's funny how extruded and back-handed the arguments for mass immigration have become. Tyler Cowen favors immigration because it means American workers will see their living standards fall to the point they have to think up new and better ways to serve legumes. Bryan Caplan favors immigration because the various tribes will be too busy duking it out in varying degrees of cold and hot war to worry about funding the welfare state.

There are probably lots more arguments for mass immigration which its advocates never imagined would warm the cockles of reactionary hearts everywhere:

Muslims are even less tolerant of unbridled sexuality and abortion than Christians.

Third World 'Big Man' economies are more conducive to de facto/de jure monarchy.

Federal government interventions will necessarily shrink as the US state breaks up along its ethno-cultural lines. (Imagine some silly WASP female in the FDA inspector sending a request for information to a Santera-based health clinic in Caribbean Miami--ha ha ha!)

The alarming neoteny of Caucasian males will be reversed, as will the late marriages and delayed childbearing among Caucasian females.

some 30 years ago a high school student ( in India where I live) sent me a short story which begins like this: " Once upon a time there was an Indian couple who , from the very second they landed on US soil, hated everything American ... the language, the culture, the music, the family life and the attire, everything. The couple's daily prayer to their family deity was only this: we will break a hundred coconuts in your honor if you will only get us citizenship of this filthy country"
I think it rings true even today.

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