Land of the free home of the brave fact of the day

…we estimate that refugees pay $21,000 more in taxes than they receive in benefits over their first 20 years in the U.S.

That is from a new NBER paper by Evans and Fitzgerald.


Prof Cowen would happily sell us out to the black/brown masses for $21000 over 20 years. Good to know.

He probably would have done the same with all those papists and East European parasites one hundred years ago.

'Concerns over mass immigration and its impact on the country began to change Americans’ historically open attitude toward immigration. Congress strengthened national immigration law with new legislation in 1903 and 1907. Meanwhile, a Presidential Commission investigated the causes of massive emigration out of Southern and Eastern Europe and the Congressional Dillingham Commission studied conditions among immigrants in the United States. These commissions’ reports influenced the writing and passage of the Immigration Act of 1917.

Among its other provisions, the 1917 Act required that immigrants be able to read and write in their native language, obligating the Immigration Service to begin administering literacy tests. Another change, the introduction of pre-inspection and more-rigorous medical examinations at the point of departure saved time for people passing through some American ports of entry and reduced the number of excluded immigrants.'

Oddly, these days, we seem unconcerned about how Italians and East European Jews have destroyed America's purity of essence. And in comparison to 100 years ago, many of the same sort of people that then decried Jewish intellectual inferiority now laud its superiority.

Almost as if such beliefs are arbitrary, something Benjamin Franklin demonstrates, with his disapproval of swarthy Swedes ever coming to North America.

Excuse the length, but only if we had heeded Franklin's sage words, we would have avoided all the problems so notable in our history from allowing Germans to come to our land's fair shores - 'I am perfectly of your mind, that measures of great Temper are necessary with the Germans: and am not without Apprehensions, that thro’ their indiscretion or Ours, or both, great disorders and inconveniences may one day arise among us; Those who come hither are generally of the most ignorant Stupid Sort of their own Nation, and as Ignorance is often attended with Credulity when Knavery would mislead it, and with Suspicion when Honesty would set it right; and as few of the English understand the German Language, and so cannot address them either from the Press or Pulpit, ’tis almost impossible to remove any prejudices they once entertain. Their own Clergy have very little influence over the people; who seem to take an uncommon pleasure in abusing and discharging the Minister on every trivial occasion. Not being used to Liberty, they know not how to make a modest use of it; and as Kolben says of the young Hottentots, that they are not esteemed men till they have shewn their manhood by beating their mothers, so these seem to think themselves not free, till they can feel their liberty in abusing and insulting their Teachers. Thus they are under no restraint of Ecclesiastical Government; They behave, however, submissively enough at present to the Civil Government which I wish they may continue to do: For I remember when they modestly declined intermeddling in our Elections, but now they come in droves, and carry all before them, except in one or two Counties; Few of their children in the Country learn English; they import many Books from Germany; and of the six printing houses in the Province, two are entirely German, two half German half English, and but two entirely English; They have one German News-paper, and one half German. Advertisements intended to be general are now printed in Dutch and English; the Signs in our Streets have inscriptions in both languages, and in some places only German: They begin of late to make all their Bonds and other legal Writings in their own Language, which (though I think it ought not to be) are allowed good in our Courts, where the German Business so encreases that there is continual need of Interpreters; and I suppose in a few years they will be also necessary in the Assembly, to tell one half of our Legislators what the other half say; In short unless the stream of their importation could be turned from this to other colonies, as you very judiciously propose, they will soon so out number us, that all the advantages we have will not in My Opinion be able to preserve our language, and even our Government will become precarious.'

"we seem unconcerned about how Italians and East European Jews have destroyed America’s purity of essence."

Speak for yourself.

" And in comparison to 100 years ago, many of the same sort of people that then decried Jewish intellectual inferiority now laud its superiority."

No one ever decried Jewish "intellectual inferiority." That's a Jewish myth.

Speaking as a historian who happens to work in the time period (although I write about something totally different), I can tell you that contemporary writers absolutely wrote about Jews as intellectually stunted. The claim was that Jews were cunning--sort of naturally smart at getting money from people--but intellectually deficient in the "higher" forms of intelligence, like art and philosophy.

Racist bullshit in all its forms is often surprisingly sophisticated in its portrayal and interpretation of ideas that, at their core, are pretty crude and simplistic. It's kind of an all-hat-and-no-cattle worldview.

The fact that each one of their kids cost taxpayers over $10k a year in schooling shows his figures are BS.

Add in another $2500 a year for most of these kids to be on Medicaid

But don't your kids cost that much too? Shouldn't each generation be counted on its own, and the second generation citizens would only matter if their adult lives don't end up with the same net effects as native citizens?

As I noted below, the paper assumes that the ROI on education of their children is the same as for natives, despite the fact that they've already by that point shown that it isn't.

"Rant, rant, ranty, rant ...."

Americans have already sold their souls.

Exactly what I expected from the MR comment section.

Sorry, meant to reply to the top comment.

You need a machine to speak your comments to.

Prof Cowen would happily sell us out to the black/brown masses for $21000 over 20 years.

Been reading the Camp of the Saints recently, haven't you, Sandy?

Most of the cost (about $5000 a month per refugee family) is hidden/disguised and lied about. This is a classic example of the MSM's dishonesty.

According to heritage research, US citizens on welfare buy $100,000 from businesses with their welfare benefits based on their reading the law.

Refugees get no welfare and earn low wages, so they buy very little from businesses compared to those on welfare, so the taxes refugees pay can't come close to paying for millions in tax credits for businesses to offset their lower spending.

No, refugees are legally entitled to welfare immediately.

Not surprisingly, refugees tend to be quite dependent for a long time on welfare. From the New York Times in 1994:

Published: May 19, 1994

"Nearly 20 years after the end of the war in Southeast Asia brought thousands of Cambodians, Laotians and Vietnamese refugees to this country, many still languish in poverty, giving Southeast Asians the highest rate of welfare dependency of any racial or ethnic group.

"More than 30 percent of all Southeast Asian households in the nation now depend on welfare for survival, according to a report on the economic diversity of Asian-Americans released Wednesday in Washington. Among some groups, like Cambodians and Laotians in California, the percentage of those on welfare reaches 77 percent. Nationwide, only 8 percent of households received public assistance in 1991."

You had to go back 23 years to find an article to support your point of view? Surely you have something more recent you can cherry pick from.

Even better, a number of those refugees actually supported the U.S. during the conflicts in Indochina (or at a minimum, were persecuted for being perceived to have been associated with the U.S. in any way), and were thus given privileged treatment in recognition of this.

""""actually supported the U.S. during the conflicts in Indochina """

You mean those conflicts in Indochina which were in support of stopping the Vietnamese becoming Communist? My freedom was not being threatened by a Communist invasion but I remember LBJ and others being on the TV saying we must sacrifice so that the Vietnamese can be free.

But now we know that the Vietnamese are "good communists" in that they now supply cheap sweatshop goods to the free market international traders. And nothing says free market more then goods made by communists

I think you are confusing American politics with the fact that those that support the U.S. should not be penalized for their support - as all of the people in Indochina who could not flee before the Communists seized who had supported the U.S. were.

How one treats those that support you is the measure of an a person or institution. Which is why Iraq was removed from the second TRAVEL BAN, at the apparent insistence of those who fought and continue to fight in Iraq, alongside Iraqis that supported the U.S.

Iraq is completely incomparable to Vietnam in this issue. In Vietnam, the communists won. The Iraqi government is still in control of most of the country.

He could try the paper Cowen linked:

"Refugees have much lower levels of education and poorer language skills than natives and outcomes are initially poor with low employment, high welfare use and low earnings. Outcomes improve considerably as refugees age. After 6 years in the country, these refugees work at higher rates than natives but they never attain the earning levels of U.S.-born respondents."

So, I have read, break even point for a person is about 55k-60k in earnings, where taxes paid equals consumption. This is higher than median household income of $52k. Now if the refugees "never attain the earning levels of U.S.-born respondents", then how are they paying more than they consume?

Easy, TMC: because the authors are excluding the three biggest tax expenditures people take through their lives (SS, Medicare, and education)

I am pro immigration but if Careless is right and SS, Medicare and Education are not include that the paper is ridiculous fraud.

Floccina, I read the paper and he is right. Don't take my word for it though, I "found" an ungated copy:

Steve, welfare reform was passed in 1996 and changed the rules significantly. Refugees can receive TANF and other government benefits for the first 5-7 years of their stay in the U.S. but start losing eligibility until they are naturalized. For TANF, the rules are strict enough in some states (not California, admittedly) that even citizens are routinely turned away.

That's why there is disability.

The children that immigrants have once here are entitled to the full range of benefits available to any citizen, of course. Presumably these costs are not included in the featured calculations.

If human beings were disposable after 20 years, that would be relevant information.

They are, but it's not nice to do so.

Nobody opposes taking in refugees in principle; it is part of our grand traditions. The controversy is over taking in unvetted refugees from countries known for breeding terrorists, and also in accepting those who not only do NOT seek the American way of life, but who openly despise & reject it.

Tyler wants the US to look like Liberia circa 1999 in the hands of the black/brown horde.

The actual concern is managing the behavior of people who think like you after "black/brown" people are granted refugee status.

Well, if that doesn't ease one's concern, I don't know what will.

They can always go try for refugee status in another Black/Brown country, if they are so afraid of the evil Whites.

Hail Trump!

I just want them to stop talking about their cuckolding fetishes.

"the American way of life," which would be what? Maybe the American way of life mandates a three-bedroom split level with a lawn well-manicured by a riding mower and a late model energy-efficient car in the garage but it originally included transients in tents. Who determines that exact parameters of the American way of life and where are they found?

I don't use my real name when commenting on US blogs in case I want to travel to America one day, but you're telling me someone can openly despise and reject the American way of life can be accepted into the country? Maybe write, "Death to the fascist American Empire!" on an application for entry? Yeah, I don't have that much faith in the tolerance of US immigration officials.

'but you’re telling me someone can openly despise and reject the American way of life can be accepted into the country?'


Well, his exact words were, "...and also in accepting those who not only do NOT seek the American way of life, but who openly despise & reject it." so it certainly seemed like he was telling me that. But perhaps I am taking hims too literally and he actually meant the opposite.

Please provide some support for your assertion that the US has accepted any refugees without vetting them first.

"The controversy is over taking in unvetted refugees from countries known for breeding terrorists, and also in accepting those who not only do NOT seek the American way of life, but who openly despise & reject it."
What about Saudi tourists? How many is too much?


I don't know. Can't three of them take over a plane or explode marathoners?

They were non-immigrants. They were on student visas.

Uh, the 4 you're thinking of were the illegal immigrants you love so much. Visa overstays.

I like immigrants who are coming here to engage in peaceful voluntary exchange. I have no problem with keeping out the ones who are members of terrorist organizations.
But if your solution is "No visas for anyone!" that's a pretty stupid solution. The vast majority of Saudi tourists aren't coming here to do anything but spend money. You not only want to keep out immigrants, now you want to keep out ALL temporary visitors too.

"The controversy is over taking in unvetted refugees"

The U.S. does not take in "unvetted" refugees so you are arguing against a strawman. The current refugee application process includes at least two different interviews with contractors or DHS agents (plus another one when they physically arrive in the U.S.), several background checks, fingerprinting and running the fingerprints through FBI, DHS, and DoD databases, and piles of paperwork with extensive biographical information and multiple layers of approval.

"fingerprinting and running the fingerprints through FBI, DHS, and DoD databases"

Obviously, one's Syrian fingerprint isn't going to be in the FBI, DHS, and DoD databases.

"piles of paperwork with extensive biographical information"

And how will that Syrian paperwork be confirmed? The Syrian government?

You're just blowing smoke out of your cuckolded ass.

Or maybe this means we only let in people that we can verify made themselves enemies of the local ruling elite. Do refugees to the u.s. tend to be more politically connected than their countrymen?

There was a curious lack of Christian refugees under the Hussien Obama administration.

"And how will that Syrian paperwork be confirmed? The Syrian government?"

Actually yes. Read up on how the UN coordinates with refugees, camps and counties of origin.

I might not be a Trump fan, but no one should assume that vetted means anything, unless we are talking about stable well run polities like Iceland, Japan, Israel, Germany, Norway, etc. etc.

What's Germany doing in there?

well yes, but presumably they could have vetted an actual German

Also, once they hit American soil, it is a crime against humanity to deport them if we change our mind.

I don't like the right's anti-immigrant bias, but given the bargaining the left has been doing over the past generation, where you can't deny anything to anybody within US borders without being a monster, the only place left to take a stand is when they are first admitted.

If we could let in refugees, and then say in a year or two "y'know what, this isn't working out, here is a cab to take you to the airport," the question of letting in refugees wouldn't be so high stakes.

I also find it humorous when refugees go back to visit the homeland. If you can afford a plant ticket home, and its safe to go home...then go home.

Being a successful refugee or asylum seeker and visiting your ex-home country should be a felony involving deportation and stripping of citizenship, if acquired.

Probation. I like it. The left would never agree.

If you aren't in favor of the US taking in large numbers of refugees, you must hate freedom.

No you just hate other humans with darker skin

I do not; I just think Cowen's rhetoric here is...less than his usual quality.

Not me; I'm not a hater. I'm a multilingual, cosmopolitan child of immigrants married to an immigrant.

It's other cultures that I don't care for. Well, to be honest, I don't mind them if they are quaint and non-threatening.

So, Hispanics are ok then?

Are Hispanics not from another culture? Are they non-threatening? I know I just taught you earlier today that they're the most violent people on the planet in the sense that you should be concerned with regarding immigration

It's pretty hard to parody you virtue-signalers.

Not all virtue is just signaling though

These kinds of analyses depend heavily on how one measures "taxes paid" vs. "benefits received". There's direct taxes paid such as sales and income taxes, and then there's imputed taxes, such as property taxes paid via rent. similarly for benefits you can count only direct cash and in-kind benefits, or include the impact on local services. And it's easy to be more comprehensive in measuring one than the other. If they failed to include the cost of educating children, that would really throw the analysis off, as that is a huge benefit available to all citizens. When you include free public education, and all the extra cost of ELL education that refugees would almost always be using, it's hard to believe they're "paying their own way" as this paper implies.

Even still, the claim that they pay a whopping $21,000 more in taxes over a 20-year period doesn't exactly blow one away.

The paper TC cites says that refugees usually arrive in the country during prime working ages and the 20 year period covers prime working ages, so all the analysis amounts to is that individuals in their prime working years tend to contribute more in taxes than they receive in benefits, which we already knew. It's like saying that a restaurant is profitable between the hours of 7 pm and 10 pm. Maybe true, but irrelevant.

Right, if they're only contributing $1000 more than they're taking in their 20-50 years, they're going to be large drains over their whole lives.

And I'm quite sure without looking they didn't include their kids' schooling. Is $21,000 more or less than $11,000x2x13?

yes, they ignore spending on education both on the parents end and the children's end

And, despite having already reported that controlling for education, refugees never match the incomes of natives, they assume that the ROI on their education is identical to that of natives.

The real question here is why politically motivated leftist academics are so dishonest, why they are so willing to subvert their field and their study with their politics, and why the media and the average Democrat voter is so willing to eat it up. This paper's conclusion is a dishonest, politically motivated hack job that can't withstand 5 minutes of scrutiny.

Indeed, ELL education is enormously expensive outside areas where a large proportion of the population is not English speaking. When one single kid shows up in a school, that kid has a "constitutional right" to ELL education, whether he's a citizen or not, whether he's legal or not. Because of this, class sizes of 4-6 kids are commonplace, think about the effect that has on the "cost of education." But whenever mainstream virtue-signallers like Cowen scratch their heads about why education costs have gone up by so much, this never seems to come up. See this blog post, a good first person account of teaching ELL

Just to clarify, I'm not saying that the main reason costs have gone up is ELL, that honor belongs to special ed and administrative costs. But it is notable they never mention it.

Why would they include the educatiom costs of children? If they do so, they should also count the future taxes paid by those children.

They include neither the education costs of the refugee's children nor the cost of education of the refugees when they arrived as children. You have to include 1 to get an honest accounting.

Since refugees earn less than natives (and pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits), do they not receive much in the way of benefits because, as refugees, they don't qualify? Or is it due to language and other barriers that they don't apply for benefits?

Indeed. This result doesn't pass the smell test without more information. Was it really "refugees"? Those fleeing for their lives with a justified sense of persecution and classed as such by UN agencies? Or did they include the much larger pool of economic migrants? Perhaps even the high-skill subset of that?

And did they control for age? For these comparisons, you need LIFETIME (properly discounted) Tax-Benefit burden. I despair of seeing analysis which shouts "see! These healthy 20 year old refugees aren't a drain on our state!".

I'd be a lot better disposed to the open borders crowd if so much of their analysis wasn't obviously advocacy and better distinguished the various potential immigrant populations.

The $21,000 number comes from looking at 20-45 year olds. No one of retirement age or below working age.

""" they don’t qualify?""'

Refugees under international treaties that the US has signed are eligible for all benefits that legal residence get

""""Or is it due to language and other barriers that they don’t apply for benefits?"""

I doubt it since there is a whole industry of "charity" refugee aid agencies who get paid for every refugee they assist and by assist I mean helping refugees signing up for taxpayer paid for benefits.

Here is a list of the US refugee resettlement "charities". I put quotes around charities since all of these organizations get the vast majority of their funding from the taxpayers

Church World Service (CWS)
Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM)
Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC)
Hebrew Immigration Aid Society (HIAS)
International Rescue Committee (IRC)
Kurdish Human Rights Watch, Inc. (KHRW)
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS)
State of Iowa, Bureau of Refugee Services
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops/Migration and Refugee Services (USCCB/MRS)
U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI)
World Relief (WR)

From the paper, a big surprise: We wish to
thank representatives at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Charities USA for
a number of helpful comments about our work

Most working age people pay more in taxes than the receive in benefits. Medicare and Social security only kick in later in life. As such this number is meaningless.

Kerr-ching. Exactly.

Strange that all these clever economics professor types seem incapable of building their studies properly or putting data in context on this issue.

I'm sure they can, they just want to be invited to the cocktail parties.

"Since 1975, Americans have welcomed over 3 million refugees from all over the world."

This is not a big deal. Refugee resettlement in the US seems to be mostly a marketing program...maintaining the American brand.

It's the rate relative to native population that matters. So that's...what.... 30 persons per 100,000 resident-years?

That's like saying a small city would see about 7 refugee families per year.

And something like 20-50 undocumented workers (very imprecise figure, admittedly), plus 12.5 percent of that city would be legal immigrants - 'According to the Census Bureau's 2009 American Community Survey, the U.S. immigrant population was 38,517,234, or 12.5 percent of the total U.S. population.'

The first commenter is quite right - refugee admission is mainly about America's image, and has little to do with either illegal or legal immigration, both of which thoroughly swamp such programs to the point of almost making them noise in such discussions.

Agreed. We have a similar situation in Europe. The "refugee" numbers are pretty small compared to the legal and illegal immigrant numbers. This isn't to say they are not a (small) burden or taking a view on the security aspects.

Its about people like Tyler virtue signaling to other members of his class, along with cheap labor for corporations. You think the Saudis, Indians, or Chinese give a crap about America taking in refugees?

Damn straight they care ... if it can make America look bad.

Isn't the modal refugee up until this point a Soviet Jew, Cuban businessman or Vietnamese doctor?

Call me crazy, but I'm not really sure if you can easily extrapolate to the typical refugee circa 2017. Thanks to an amazing 25 years in third world development and stability, there's very few refugees today like the examples above. The Balkans Wars were probably the last major historical event where you had an outflux of people from a relatively educated, relatively high-trust society. Maybe some Coptic Christians or Rhodesians driven off by Mugabe (though I doubt they're high up on the priority list of most refugee activists).

Now compare to the typical Syrian refugee. The sizable majority are Sunni Arab, a culture with an abysmal record of integrating into Western countries. 50%+ of Syrians have parents who are first cousins (with terrible impact on cognitive capabilities). Most are from small villages isolated in the desert. Most are not high school educated, and the ones that are have only passed a system with atrocious educational standards. Even before the war, Syria's PISA scores would put it far behind the lowest-achieving US states or European nations.

Take everything about West Virginia backwoods hicks that make them dysfunctional in our modern post-industrial economy. Now dial that up to 11. There's your portrait of a typical Syrian refugee. Soviet Jews they are not.

"50%+ of Syrians have parents who are first cousins" Source? This really sounds like bullshit

Seems entirely plausible to me. Here in the UK itself about 50% of our ethnic Pakistani population is married to first cousins. And not just first generation immigrants either.

Cousin marriage is a big thing in many parts of the world. So, regrettably, is inbred congenital defects.

The chart on the Wikipedia page suggests Syria is in the 30-39% cousin marriage zone.

Phew! For a moment there I was worried we were dealing with a bunch of dangerously inbred hicks with all the attendant mental and physical issues.

That map includes second cousins, who are quit different genetically.

How "different" genetically do you think their second cousin is after a few centuries tradition of inter-marriage? As different as your 2nd cousin is from you here in a nice western country? Consider the Hapsburgs before you answer.

The problem is the systemic risks ramps up rapidly, like with vaccine hold-outs. The one-off risk of 1st cousin marriage seems slight (about 4% vs 2% baseline), but it surges if a significant % of population is doing it. Especially if the habit is concentrated in families and not dispersed uniformly through the population (35% may be the average, but you can bet real money it's close to 100% in the boondocks and lower in Aleppo/Damascus).

LOL. Dating your uncle's son's daughter. You're down with that, right?

And here I was convinced that pederasty was the next pride movement.

"Isn’t the modal refugee up until this point a Soviet Jew, Cuban businessman or Vietnamese doctor?"

No. The Vietnamese doctor is nearing retirement, this is based on counting only the young.(so they can count SS/medicare contributions and ignore costs) There's a few Soviet Jews, but mostly it's people like my old neighbors. They were ethnic Nepalis native to(or illegal immigrants to) Bhutan, the Bhutanese government claims the latter and refuses them citizenship and rights.(Meanwhile, cucks ignore the issue and praise the Bhutanese government for their supposedly environmentalist and socialist policies, explaining away their poverty by the creation of a "gross national happiness" measure that cucks have widely praised.) The optimal solution, of course, is for them to be resettled in America as refugees.(you thought they might go to Nepal? That would make sense, can't have that.) They seemed like hard working types, but they made near minimum wage.(They didn't get the memo you weren't supposed to tell people your salary in America.) If you only count their prime working years and ignored the burden on public goods, they might come out ahead. Meanwhile, their children assimilated into American lower-class culture, to their great disappointment. That tends to happen with lower-IQ immigrants, they might be hardworking in the first generation, but the second, well, they reconfirm the stereotype of the lazy Mexican.

All the refugees they were hypothetically looking at came over 1990 or later

The refugees that are theoretically in the data set are half Asian (Afghanistan and Iraq, primarily) with the rest being split between Europe (not Jewish-heavy places) and Africa

"we estimate that Americans pay $21,000 more in taxes than they receive in benefits over their first 20 years as an adult, from ages 18-38"

So if we get rid of pensions and social security America will be able to pay down their debt and maintain a balanced budget?

Cowen's signalling again, posting this fake news. It doesn't count public education as a benefit(3 years of public education rapidly drains all of that 21,000$, the value over 21 years), nor any of the strain the refugees put on public goods like the roads or the criminal justice system. And as pointed it, it picks the 21 year value because that occurs when refugees pay into social security and medicare and before they start taking it out. Here's part of the abstract Cowen didn't link:

" Among young adults, we show that refugees that enter the U.S. before age 14 graduate high school and enter college at the same rate as natives. Refugees that enter as older teenagers have lower attainment with much of the difference attributable to language barriers and because many in this group are not accompanied by a parent to the U.S. Among refugees that entered the U.S. at ages 18-45, we follow respondents’ outcomes over a 20-year period in a synthetic cohort. Refugees have much lower levels of education and poorer language skills than natives and outcomes are initially poor with low employment, high welfare use and low earnings. Outcomes improve considerably as refugees age. After 6 years in the country, these refugees work at higher rates than natives but they never attain the earning levels of U.S.-born respondents. "

Exactly. They are measuring a cohort that is in its peak earning years (18-45 years old) and largely excludes the most expensive years to the public (education and retirement). And despite being in the peak of their careers, they only produce a surplus of a thousand dollars a year.

From the paper

In this paper, we outline a procedure that identifies groups of individuals in the 2010-2014
ACS that have a high likelihood of being refugees. We rely on data from the Department of State
(DOS) on refugee admissions and data from the ACS on total immigration. The Department of
State identifies the annual counts of refugees from specific countries. Within the ACS, we can
identify the total number of people that migrated from a particular country in a particular year,
including both refugees and non-refugee immigrants. In general, we would expect the number of
total migrants to be larger than the total number of refugees for a unique country/year pair.
However, for some country/year pairs, particularly places and times of political unrest, we would
expect the majority of migrants to the U.S. to be refugees. Thus, when we identify country/year
pairs where weighted immigrant totals in the ACS are close to refugee totals as reported by the
DOS, we can be reasonably confident that the respondents in the ACS are in fact refugees.

Gotta love relying on a method that is pumping out impossible results like there being more refugees than total immigrants from a country in a year.

And I don't mean "a few impossible results." I mean they got nearly as many impossible results as usable data points. They took refugees/immigrants from a country in a year and used anything between .7 and 1. Just eyeballing it, they got about 65 impossible result country-years (refugees>total immigrants) compared with 133 (not an estimate) country-years that they used.

Yeah, I trust this data set

How much do they lower wages coming into a country that already has an oversupply of labor?

One solution to the problems with refugees might be to turn from policies that create refugees. The war in Vietnam created little of benefit to Americans but did result in lots of refugees a few years ago. Likewise our military undertakings in Iraq and Syria appear to have produced more refugees than benefits. People do not leave home/family/nation/culture readily. It takes a great upheaval to force people to seek refuge. I am sure that in our country we have the wisdom to address conflicts without the turmoil that causes people to flee.

Smash militant movements, give up our pie-in-the-sky ideals about bringing dumbocracy to people that have no capacity or temperament for it, and they can stay put and make their own countries great again.

Vietnam war would have occurred regardless of America's participation. More likely than not Iraq would be in a Syria like situation, only 15% of its population were the ruling Sunni Arabs, that's not a stable situation.

Lots of people will leave their countries when there's no war if they can immigrate to a significantly richer country, war just gives then an excuse. See Puerto Rico, a majority of Puerto Ricans live in mainland America.

No question many immigrants are motivated by economics. However, a situation where 100,000 or so of your fellow citizens are killed by war while another million is made homeless will get people to move. The regimes in the Levant were oppressive, but they did seem to keep a lid on a real hornets' nest, and I will stipulate that they used ugly methods to do so. There may well have been bloodshed when they unwound, but we have created bloodshed resulting in a couple of million refugees. There must be a better way.
We are selling a couple of hundred billion dollars of arms to Saudi Arabia. I predict that some of the Yemenis who survive the war, starvation, and Cholera epidemic will become refugees. The costs resulting from these people should be on the books same as the profits from the sales.

There were millions of displaced people in the Afghan-Soviet "war". Most went to Pakistan, almost none to Minn., Indiana, Maine or Florida, etc.

Good job for the comments section testing this crap apart.

Thumbs down for Tyler. Disappointed.

And +1 for the idea of group peer review. It's clear a bunch of interested/educated laypersons can do a better job in a few hours than a team of authorities can in, what, 6 weeks?

We forget that for the first two hundred years or so of the founding of this country (and for centuries prior to that), we had no immigration service. Instead, we had completely open borders: if you could afford passage to the United States, you could settle here and become a citizen. And tens of millions did that up until the first immigration laws were passed in the late 1800's.

Even after the first immigration laws were passed, prior to the outbreak of World War I, we took in around 24 million immigrants over the course of 20 years--at a time when the total population of the United States was only 75 million. (Today, it'd be like taking in 100 million immigrants.) Only after World War I did we pass laws seeking to limit immigration.

We also know from this history that while the original immigrants tend to be somewhat neutral in terms of the economic benefits they provide society, the next two to three generations (their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren) tend to do better than the average native-born American. So in the long term, every wave of immigration we've had in this country from the first settlers who colonized the East coast up to the present day have both altered the culture and created a net economic benefit. One could argue that as a nation of immigrants our economic power in the world was created by all of this immigration.

Of course prior performance does not guarantee future results.

But if we are to use history as a guide, all of this closed borders nonsense I'm seeing in the comments here and elsewhere--even amongst my liberal friends who blanch at the thought of someone coming here whose skin is darker than theirs--is just shooting ourselves in the foot.

People are congenitally selfish. They don't like to share what they have, however ample that may be. What's new about this? It's been true since the dawn of civilization. Nowadays, people seem to have a lot of time on their hands, and there's the whole wide internet to publish your ideas, so people tend to invent more and more intellectual-sounding reasons to justify their selfishness.

And there's too much news. Anything bad happens in any corner of the world, and people feel threatened. We need Days Without the Internet mandated by decree or something.

Indeed, see the Israelis who won't let Syrians in even though its right next door.


"if you could afford passage to the United States, you could settle here and become a citizen. "

We also had a public charge doctrine. And ban on communicable diseases. And laws against vagrancy. And no Uncle Sugar lavishing welfare. And no civil rights laws for the new arrivals to hold over their hosts' heads. Immigrants worked, and made it, or they starved or went back home.

We also didn't have 300,000,000 + people.

you might want to get the money you paid your history teachers refunded.

It took a lon time for non-whites to be able to get naturalized, and by that time there were immigration laws on the books. We never had open borders.

Youre an idiot. They could come, but they could not become citizens unless they were White. And their children did not do better than native born Americans. Read up on Irish and Italian history in America.

We also know from this history that while the original immigrants tend to be somewhat neutral in terms of the economic benefits they provide society, the next two to three generations (their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren) tend to do better than the average native-born American.

This has certainly not been true for the biggest (forced) immigration: Africans who were brought here enslaved.

The slave trade was not among the biggest immigrations to America. We import more Mexicans (or Indians or Chinese) every year or two than the entire volume of the American slave trade through all its history.

Putting aside the differences between refugees from failed states and culturally similar people with the drive to cross the ocean with the family savings, to ignore the differences in the welfare state between then and now is just embarrassing in an analysis. Your insinuations of racism in light of your apparently immense ignorance is par for the course, unfortunately.

From the abstract:

"Among refugees that entered the U.S. at ages 18-45, we follow respondents’ outcomes over a 20-year period in a synthetic cohort. Refugees have much lower levels of education and poorer language skills than natives and outcomes are initially poor with low employment, high welfare use and low earnings. Outcomes improve considerably as refugees age. After 6 years in the country, these refugees work at higher rates than natives but they never attain the earning levels of U.S.-born respondents. Using the NBER TAXSIM program, we estimate that refugees pay $21,000 more in taxes than they receive in benefits over their first 20 years in the U.S."

I have not purchased the paper; however, it appears that FICA contributions (employer and employee?) would be included in "taxes", but for the age cohort selected, the 20-year period conveniently stops just when the oldest among that cohort would reach full retirement age. The majority of social security recipients, that is, the lower lifetime earning cohorts, receive more in benefits (social security and medicare) than they pay in "taxes" over their working lives. This is true of citizens, but given the lower average earnings of refugees, it would be particularly true (on average) for that group.

Yes, they counted employer and employee FICA. And it doesn't matter if they paid in more than they will revive or not: they've already established their total net tax contribution, so 100% of SS payments would be deducted from that immediately.

I take it you have read the paper? Please clarify this: "And it doesn’t matter if they paid in more than they will revive or not: they’ve already established their total net tax contribution, so 100% of SS payments would be deducted from that immediately."

Are you saying they counted FICA and Medicare "taxes" in "taxes" and then deducted future *anticipated* benefits (which would be a net negative number?)

I see two issues here: 1) the 20 year period; and 2) the selected group of 18-45 year-olds rather than, say, those above age 18 period.


No, they never counted a dime of Medicare payments or SS payments. I'm saying we need to, if we want an accurate accounting.

Ok, thanks. This was not obvious (to me) from your earlier comment.

How does crap like this get into the NBER and cited (here)? Suggestion for another biased "paper": Take all "refugees", regardless of their date of arrival, and calculate the net taxes paid versus benefits received only from age 65 and thereafter. These same authors would likely be furious because it is not the answer they want to see.

" ages 18-45, we follow respondents’ outcomes over a 20-year period in a synthetic cohort... Using the NBER TAXSIM program, we estimate that refugees pay $21,000 more in taxes than they receive in benefits over their first 20 years in the U.S."

They very neatly choose an age cohort and time span which excludes Social Security, Medicare and public education.

Another strange bit of the paper: after going to the trouble to find out how many people in their data were in prison and providing the numbers (0.5% per year at $32,000), they don't subtract it from the $21,000, saying "this cost is not a large value." Which is kind of true, but $3,200 is sizable when you're talking about $21,000. Except it's more than that, because I'm pretty sure the 0.5% isn't from the 20-45 group, it's from the whole group. So now we're talking about maybe a third of their result being zapped away.

Yes. It is indeed a fact that Evans and Fitzgerald made such an estimate.

Keep the facts coming!

I know of two refugee stories that are funny.

One is an Iranian classmate. He was a refugee and arrived as a kid. Grew up in America. Then he went back to Iran for a while after college. But when he tried to get a visa back to America it was denied. He was very bitter and America was dumb to not let him back, but honestly...if you're a political refugee and its okay to go home for an extended visit...then your probably not really that much of a refugee.

The other guy is Iraqi. He came to America and was on welfare. And then he stupidly took a job at walmart. Now he can't ever get back on his welfare. He regrets taking that job...

I just think its funny that the US government can be so generous and yet also be dickish. (But in a good way.) I also find it funny that humans do natural things like get a job and then regret doing so thanks to rather artificial things like government welfare rules.

I know an Ukrainian engineer. He came here with his young family of three (well, with his wife and one child, then two more were conceived, here). Then his parents came over; they were in their mid sixties when they arrived, over ten years ago.

He learned quickly that the only job he could get in his field was quite low level, pay wise. So he decided to stay on welfare because what he "earned" was far greater than what he could earn working. Now the whole family is on welfare (except the children of course).

This is why the objections to H1-B visa are so stupid. The rest of the world sends it best and brightest to be trained in American universities. They represent over half of the graduate classes in American STEM fields. And then we say "no sorry, you can't have jobs, you have to go back to China or whatever". We're literally kicking the smartest people in the world, who have been educated in the best universities in the world (Americas Universities are second to none), out of the country.

"They represent over half of the graduate classes in American STEM fields."

The keyword there is "graduate." Foreigners do make up close to half of all graduate degrees, 43% of engineering Masters degrees and 49% of doctoral degrees, according to Pew. They make up 8% of bachelor's degrees. You can chose to believe that massive disproportion is because they are smarter than American engineers, I have a different theory.

If people in the H-1B program are "the smartest people in the world," they sure as hell aren't being paid like it. If you really believed it, you should have no problem with Trump's raising of the minimum wage they can be paid, companies must have been making out like bandits, exploiting such minds, and can easily afford to pay more.

Anyway, are you objecting to the taking in of non-smartest people in the world immigrants? Or are you just trying to change the subject?

Not everyone on an H1-B visa is educated at an American university. Lots of them come from Chinese or Indian universities.
But H1-B visas ARE the primary route for foreigners educated at US universities to immigrate. And there are already provisions requiring that H1-B employees be paid the prevailing wage in the industry. Propaganda to the contrary is bullshit. It's possible that H1-Bs have less negotiating leverage for pay raises and such, but that ends when they get permanent residency. Sol make the green card process easier so they can move out of H1-B status faster, or manke the H1-B tranferrable. Problem solved.

No ? You don't like that? Let's in too many highly skilled brown people? We can't have that. We can't have the low skilled OR the highly skilled!

It is interesting to see that at this point, this paper, complete with its trivial conclusion that working age adults are generally net contributors, is being used to create articles suggesting that refugees are net contributors, which the paper doesn't provide evidence for, and which is demonstrably false with 30 seconds of critical thought. Currently the Washington Post and Business Insider both have fake news articles on this subject. Watch as this fake news spreads because despite the paper's obvious shortcomings and trivial conclusion, and despite the necessity of an outright lying about the paper to make their conclusions, journalists are leftists first and foremost, and they like this story. Sad. Watch fake news happen:,000

Washpo journo seems to have killed comments on hee article in response to being informed that her conclusions aren't evidenced by the paper. She specializes in "the intersection of race and economics" so I'm not surprised by her dishonesty.

The per capita cost of government services in the U.S. is about $21,400. Let's call defense a fixed cost of $2,400, and each person in the U.S consumes on average $19,000 per year in government services. Unless you produce on average $19,000 per year in tax revenues over your lifetime, you aren't pulling your share. Most of us aren't.

Some people consume more than 19,000 - children cost 12,000 to educate, plus health care, etc. Old farts cost more - social security and medicare. Prisoners cost more. Some cost less.

Try to convince me that refugees cost way less than the average resident.

The interesting thing about this approach is that the authors compare refugees to "U.S.-born adults," as if the latter group is entirely homogenous. I would like to see the numbers for subpopulations of the U.S. The authors could have done this easily, but chose not to. Why?

Why would they do that?

Let me guess: in this post Tyler "didn't read the comments."

and Massachusetts just cancelled my kids road test because they haven't enough examiners. glad our statehouse is dbating whether to become a sanctuary state. is there an equation for the level of skillset brought by immigrants, i.e. are we getting the more industrious folks that could possibly stay and help their own countries.
I know we are a nation of immigrants and I understand the point but I tell my son that the United States can no longer afford itself, no money for climate change, no money for infrastructure or healthcare, no money for education and some say the bank bailouts cost more than the recent wars.

I am not so worried about the Russians, they have been at it since before I was born and we have a national security set up that can match them, election for election. If it is influence you are worried about, I am more concerned about the influence of Big Pharma, Telecom, Banks, and high tech lobbying on Congress that usually results in little fees on my bills or the lack of examiners to give me kid a road test.

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