Let’s have more African immigrants

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, here is one bit:

Or consider Nigerian-Americans, Nigeria being the most populous nation in Africa. Their education levels are among the very highest in the U.S., above those of Asians, with 17 percent of Nigerian migrants having a master’s degree.


Economist Edward Lazear suggests a simple experiment. Consider immigrants to the U.S. from Algeria, Israel and Japan, and rank them in order of most educated to least educated. The correct answer is Algeria, Israel then Japan. Although that’s counterintuitive at first glance, it’s easy enough to see how it works. If you are Algerian and educated, or aspire to be educated, your prospects in Algeria are relatively poor and you may seek to leave. A talented, educated person in Japan or Israel can do just fine by staying at home. These kinds of considerations explain about 73 percent of the variation in the educational outcomes of migrants.

Do read the whole thing.


I’m all in favor once we’ve polled Minnesotans on their experience with Somalis.

In other words, I’m not going to accept as a priorist gospel the view that more African immigrants is what we need, without consulting those affected.

Why are Minnesotans (or, generalized, the neighbors of immigrants) the appropriate focus group to test the impact of their immigration? Why not the employers, employees, students, or romantic partners of the immigrants?

Poll them too then. I only suggested Minnesotans because they’ve had more experience recently with an influx of African immigrants, which was the subset under discussion.

Moreover it’s not clear to me — a child of immigrants from Sweden / England — that open borders are an unalloyed good, at least when we are talking about hundreds of thousands per annum.

I don't disagree with your latter statement at all; the rate of immigration and degree of willingness to (minimally) assimilate are both of great importance; however, I think most people are too caught up on differences, failing to recognize that there was a time only 5 or 6 generations ago when Irish and Italians were viewed with physical revulsion and ideological loathing that parallels if not exceeds current animosities toward Muslim or African immigrants - and yet those attitudes have faded and none would doubt the ability of those of Italian or Irish descent to be the most valued and loyal of Americans. I just don't think that "cultural/national" difference means all that much on the timescale of a national history, but demographic collapse can mean a lot.

Wait, what, Italians are not smelly just 'cause they root for Juventus?

In the 70's Vietnamese "boat people" were regarded as rather sub-standard Asians, and "Little Saigons" in America were regarded as sh*tholes by many. Now, Phans and Nguyens climb all the professions.

Why not zero immigration? Place a hold on all immigration including all the visa's that can lead to immigration until we solve the problems past immigration has created. That is every immigrant already here must learn English, become self supporting, become an American and not define themselves by their mother country. Fine and deport everyone who is here illegally. End birthright citizenship.

Then, when all of that is successfully accomplished bring the issue of immigration to a vote. Allow the citizens to decide if they even want or need immigrants. Perhaps zero immigration is better for citizens.

Why not?

Because it's a lousy idea.

the problems past immigration has created

I don't suppose you ever consider the benefits that past immigration has created. No, of course not.

I don’t suppose you ever consider the benefits that past immigration has created. No, of course not.

Yes I do. There are some inconsequential present-tense welfare benefits from trade in factors of production. Doing without them is nothing I'm going to notice. A fifty-year long campaign to turn the United States into a bilingual country I do notice.

only 5 or 6 generations ago

Yes, isn't it amazing what a 40 year(1924-1965) moratorium(in effect)can do in assimilating those already here.

Easy google. I wonder why people even "argue" things like this without 1 minutes work beforehand.

"About 82 percent of statewide respondents support Minnesota continuing to welcome Mexican immigrants. About 55 percent said this about Somalis."


Minnesota doesn't have to build a wall with Mexico if it doesn't want it, but most of us want to stop immigration. The people has spoken!!!

Not exactly.


I live in Minnesota. I'm skeptical, because it's contrary to my casual knowledge of Minnesota preferences, and university sociologists clearly have strong preferences towards presenting such an outcome.

I'm skeptical of most data on this subject, as I know police officers in my suburb, and they tell me about half their calls pertain to Somalis even though they are less than 10% of the community. They dominate school disruptions (ie, >>50%). My son worked summer at a grocery store, said Somali's always pay w/ welfare cards (though they were told never to call them 'welfare'). Yet you won't find any university studies documenting this.

Minnesota may have gotten more Somalis than Mexicans. Give it time.

"I’m all in favor once we’ve polled Minnesotans on their experience with Somalis". [SNIP]

Be sure and ask Justine Damond's husband and her parents, friends and schoolmates back in Sydney: She calls the Police to report a woman being assaulted behind her Minneapolis house, the Somali cop that responds shoots and kills HER


"In two years as a police officer, Noor had three formal complaints against him, two of which, as of September 2017, are pending resolution. In a separate case from May 2017, he is being sued for allegedly assaulting a woman.[13]"

Should we include the Somali immigrants in this poll, or only the pre-existing white population?
Are the Somali immigrants part of "those affected" ?

No, no more than the people you don't invite to your house.

Or what the native-born people in Illinois felt about the Scandinavians...

“Although Springfield was a cosmopolitan city, many of its native-born inhabitants had succumbed to the intolerant tenets of Know-Nothingism. This nativistic sentiment, so strong in the 1850's, found ready expression in the young American students who, too often, made the slow-speaking Scandinavians targets for their invective and contempt. In the minutes of one of the literary societies a statement reads, "The society then proceeded to missellanious business. Whereupon a few anti-Scandinavian speeches were made." On another occasion a blunt nativistic-minded student made a motion to the effect that thereafter no members should be admitted who could not converse well enough in the English language to be understood by all.”

It's all about culture, not education. Most people don't care if an immigrant is educated or not. They do care if an immigrant holds beliefs that are fundamentally opposed to the organizing principles of our country.

So what he may believe in making Sharia law the official law of the country or stoning women to death for adultery, he's got an advanced biochemistry degree!

Among the chatterati, education is the only thing that matters.

A loose equivalent of a nobility title centuries ago.

And so your argument against Haitians and Salvadorans is... what?

Anti-immigration people will keep moving the bar. If it's not culture, it's education. If it's not education, it's the job competition. If it's not the job competition, it's....back to culture.

If the Sharia "threat" fades away (doesn't exist today except in some peoples' imaginations), you'll pick on another bunch of "foreign" residents whose desires and practices are supposed to corrupt American culture.

So, is that what we are doing- just picking the cream of the crop of Algeria, Nigeria, and other so-called shit-holes? In other words, is the US applying an educational standard to allow in Algerians or Nigerians? I am willing to be convinced by the data.

They're not taking my job. I'm retired.

The possession of an advanced degree means close-to-nothing when one believes in female genital mutilation, male superiority, infidels are lower-than-dirt, etc.

Most of the September 11, 2001 mass murderers were highly-educated, relatively-wealthy Muslims.

Anyhow, why are highly-educated Nigerians fleeing Nigeria? It couldn't be based on less-than-optimal conditions in Nigeria.

N.B. Not one of the Hollywood racists that promised to flee (and then didn't) America when Trump was elected were emigrating to Ghana, Haiti, or Nigeria.

But how about believing in male genital mutilation, male superiority, and that only the Orthodox are actually God's Chosen people? Or were all those American complaints concerning the flood of Orthodox believers after WWI accurate?

On the issue of female genital mutilation, I know several teachers in the UK who tell me that there are now different forms teachers ahve to fill out depending on different behaviour exhibited by students. One of these forms needs to be filled out "if they notice that a young girl (ages 5-10) is squirming in her seat for seemingly no reason as this is a common sign of genital mutilation". This is obviously an extremely onerous and fraught task for (often young) teachers to have to deal with.

One solution was to have ALL girls regardless of background (to be non-discriminatory) to be regularly examined for this by medical professionals. This was heavily protested for obvious reasons by parents.

It took me a minute to "get" your reply. I'm a Christian male that was "clipped" at birth - I guess it was done for sanitary purposes. I can't comment on whether that rendered coitus (married 40 years that doesn't happen any more) less orgiastic. Muslims also practice (infantile) male circumcision.

Most of the Orthodox assimilated into American society and (to my knowledge) none has participated in the desultory mass murder of Americans.

I am not threatened by anybody's beliefs assuming they don't try to blow me to smithereens or bloc-vote democrat.

'I guess it was done for sanitary purposes'

For the Orthodox, the reason is explicitly religious, being a "a token of the covenant."

Honest question--Was there a "flood of Orthodox believers after WWI"?

Most of the September 11, 2001 mass murderers were highly-educated, relatively-wealthy Muslims.

How many of them were immigrants?

Is this a trick question? Weren't most (or all?) here on nonimmigrant visas?

n other words, is the US applying an educational standard to allow in Algerians or Nigerians? I am willing to be convinced by the data.

Effectively yes. It's already very difficult for an unskilled immigrant to legally immigrate to the US, unless they have direct US relatives. There aren't a lot of Somalis with US relatives so they have to go the employment route, which essentially means you have to have a college diploma, probably in a technical field.

Now, over time, as we admit refugees, and those refugees eventually become citizens, those people can then sponsor family members to immigrate. And that pathway does not preclude less educated immigrants, but as long as employment sponsorship dominates then there will be a bias towards higher education.

There aren’t a lot of Somalis with US relatives so they have to go the employment route, which essentially means you have to have a college diploma, probably in a technical field.

There's an ample supply in greater Minneapolis. Bring in some refugees and let chain migration do the rest. And if immigration officialdom be otiose, there's no limit to the number of 3d cousins you can pass off as your 'brother'. Doubt there are any 'colleges' operating in Somalia, most of which has been in an anarchic state since 1991.

It may be less anarchic now, that we've been importing this anarchy for some time.

Wealthy Somalis undoubtably send their kids to be educated elsewhere, like rich families all over the region. And probably most of our immigrants were educated in relatively peaceful times before the civil war. Refugees from Somalia might even be biased towards people who had the economic resources to flee early - the relatively well off. We have tons of Iranians who date back to life under the Shah, and most of those are western educated liberals, simply because of the fact that they were fleeing Iran's crazy theorcratic government. The crazy religious nuts aren't the ones who had to flee - we got the sane liberals.

Immigration policy also plays a role. U.S. immigration policy prioritizes people who have the money to start a business or who have the professional and educational qualifications to get an employer-sponsored visa such as the H1B. In poor countries, applying for a U.S. visa is like applying for country club membership.

applying for a U.S. visa is like applying for country club membership

And all the complaints we are seeing about immigrants are from the help, who feel excluded?

"If you are Algerian and educated, or aspire to be educated, your prospects in Algeria are relatively poor and you may seek to leave."

So Algeria is in fact a "sh--hole", but the people who emigrate to the U.S. are not "low quality/energy."

Ditto for Nigeria. According to Wikipedia, "ethnocentrism, tribalism, religious persecution, and prebendalism have affected Nigerian politics both prior and subsequent to independence in 1960. Kin-selective altruism has made its way into Nigerian politics, resulting in tribalist efforts to concentrate Federal power to a particular region of their interests." Wikipedia's entry on cousin marriage: "In Nigeria, the most populous country of Africa, the three largest tribes in order of size are the Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo. The Hausa are overwhelmingly Muslim, though followers of traditional religions do exist. Muslim Hausa practice cousin marriage preferentially, and polygyny is allowed if the husband can support multiple wives." Perhaps marrying your cousin is indeed bad for good governance: http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2018/01/marrying-cousin-bad-democracy.html

So Algeria is in fact a “sh–hole”

You know, places can be a wide variety of things between "wonderland" and "s***hole".

Iceland, by all accounts, is a decent country for its people, but if an Icelander wants to have a career in something other than fishing or shipping (or whatever industry dominates there), let's say he/she is good at science and engineering, the best option is to emigrate.

I believe a number of Silicon valley bigwigs (not that they should be anyone's role models) openly express pleasure at having escaped the rural American "s***holes" they grew up in.

Trump: We want high skilled immigration, so let's not extend green cards to the masses of people here as Temporarily Displaced Persons.

Cowen: Aha, but Algerian immigrants, who are not here as Temporarily Displaced Persons, are in fact quite well educated!

Rather missing the point.


If there were a Nobel for virtue-signalling, Tyler would have five.

It means naught.

A large number of commenters here seem to be doing something more like anti-virtue signalling. The Salvadorans and Haitians and other TPS immigrants are already here and don't seem to be causing any signficant problems. Why is it so important to you to give them the boot?

Yeah, who ever heard of MS-13?

I think the whole point is that they are causing significant problems, although right now they are only a drop in the bucket

The Salvadorans and Haitians and other TPS immigrants are already here and don’t seem to be causing any signficant problems.

If you avert your gaze:


Tyler is not stupid enough to *miss* this very obvious point. Tyler very well knows the marginal immigrant we let in from Nigeria by reducing standards will be lower-skilled than those currently arriving. So why did he write this post?

I assume because it was an easy article that's topical. Obviously he's not attempting to answer seriously the question of whether more African immigrants would be good, he's an economist he's not stupid.

Can you show, purely based on Trump's statements (private and public) that when he says "high-skilled", he doesn't mean "white"?

Why would one refer to entire countries (rather than to certain people who come from there) with an epithet unless they believe that no one from those countries could possibly possess the qualities an ideal immigrant to America ought to have?

If Trump truly wants high-skilled immigration, he can give green cards immediately to all the people on H1B visas (most of whom have already been residing in the country for a decade or longer). But then, most of those people are Indians and Chinese, and I'm not convinced his epithet doesn't extend to those countries.

And if he does mean white, so what? This US was 90% white before 1965 and nobody voted explicitly to drive down the white share of the population did they? Is there something wrong with whites wanting to retain or increase their share of the population while they have the capacity to do so? What do you think would happen if other races had their way? Have you seen Mexico's immigration policies?

Rather missing the point.

It's almost a definition of orthogonal

Or consider Nigerian-Americans, Nigeria being the most populous nation in Africa. Their education levels are among the very highest in the U.S., above those of Asians, with 17 percent of Nigerian migrants having a master’s degree.

What is the basis for that claim? That article seems .... odd. For one thing it is mainly talking about Nigerians in the vicinity of Houston. I think we can agree this is an unusual part of the US and probably is not representative of Nigerians in America as a whole. Those that move to Texas are most likely to be employable and least likely to be on welfare. So it is a skewed sample.

That article also has some problems with factual accuracy:

"If you see an average Nigerian family, everybody has a college degree these days," said Udeh, 32, a physical therapist at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center.

Seriously? The average Nigerian family has a college degree? It is a problem because census data relies on self-reporting. So does phoning people up and asking them. Is it a surprise that the figures seem to suggest that Nigerians are less than completely honest?

Of all the Nigerian immigrants he reached in his random phone surveys 1994 through 2007 — 45 households total — Klineberg said 40 percent of the Nigerians said they had post-graduate degrees.

So over twice as many claim to have post-graduate degrees on the phone as do on the census form. In the end the census form is only as reliable as the people who fill it out. Things continue to get worse:

There are more than 12,000 Nigerians in Houston, according to the latest Census data, a figure sociologists and Nigerian community leaders say is a gross undercount. They believe the number to be closer to 100,000.

So there are actually eight times as many Nigerians in Houston as the census thinks? So instead of 17% of them having Master's degree in fact about 2% do? You see the problem? Which figure is not true?

Why do so many Nigerians have Master's degrees?

"In a way, it's a Catch-22 — because of immigration laws you are forced to remain in school, but then the funny thing is you end up getting your doctorate at the age of 29," Kaba said. "If you stay in school, immigration will leave you alone."

So it is an immigration scam. It has nothing to do with attracting the right people - or even people with skills. It is just a way for Nigerians to avoid being sent home. That suggests those Masters degrees are in fact worthless. How many of them have jobs that require a STEM masters?

Economist Edward Lazear suggests a simple experiment. Consider immigrants to the U.S. from Algeria, Israel and Japan, and rank them in order of most educated to least educated. The correct answer is Algeria, Israel then Japan

And yet most people would rather live next to someone from Japan, then someone from Israel, then a long gap, and then someone from Algeria. Is there any neighborhood in the US that bucks this rule? Which suggests there is more to being a good immigrant than post-graduate degrees.

>Seriously? The average Nigerian family has a college degree? It is a problem because census data relies on self-reporting. So does phoning people up and asking them. Is it a surprise that the figures seem to suggest that Nigerians are less than completely honest?

Nonsense. Not only did the Nigerians all have masters degrees, but they also are happy to be telling researcher as a respectable person that they could help claim $2.7M (2.7 MILLION DOLLARS) in Oil Funds held from an illegal Lago shipping account by themselves Dr Josef Akrumbo but please be sending bank details for smaller administration fee.

Is it really a sensible policy for the US to plunder developing and middle-income countries of their best and brightest?


The education of these immigrants is also often heavily subsidized by their home countries.

An alternate suggestion is to allow them to work but send them home afterwards. Like how its universally done in the Persian Gulf. This is will ensure that they will invest back home (and not just send remittances for their parents) because they will have to move back someday. And when they do they will bring their skills with them.

No, we should support individual freedom as much as possible. Countries don't own their people and if a person wants and can leave for a better life elsewhere they should be able to do so.

On an empirical basis, seeing people get good high paid jobs elsewhere surely will encourage other people to invest in their own education and personal capital, which can only help the home country. Also a lot of people send money back to their home country and this can be a significant source of revenue for many countries. Finally when emigrants see the benefits of liberalism in the new homeland this can often be a catalyst for change back in the home country to a more free market system. This was certainly true of a lot of FSU countries.

Right of EXIT from a country is not a right of ENTRY to another country.

Nobody is saying they have the right to enter. But it is a privilege we should extend whenever it is mutually beneficial.

Also, +1 to ChrisA's post.


Fair enough. But consider wider system costs please in you calculation and discount properly over lifetimes of the immigrant.

I'd like to see social capital effects and externalities in education, healthcare, and pensions included, for a start.

Nobody is saying they have the right to enter

Of course someone is saying that--you are!

From the zero sum perspective of maximizing the benefit to the U.S., yes, probably. Other countries, e.g. Canada and Australia, are, from what I know, much more transparent about incentivizing "best and brightest" types to immigrate.

Is it really a sensible policy for the US to plunder developing and middle-income countries of their best and brightest?

Excellent! So you've expressed your wish to help out these countries. Instead of taking their best and brightest, take their huddled masses, their peasants. The best and brightest will then have a better chance of fixing their countries faster.

I think a lot of immigration is letting all those economies that seem to be perpetually "emerging" clear out their surplus helots to go be somebody else's problem.

The Spartans didn't clear out their surplus helots by having them emigrate.

What are the average incomes rankings of the various immigrant groups? That would probably be a better measure of their integration and economic contribution to the host country.


Japanese American : $70,261
Norwegian American : $67,403
Nigerian American : $62,086
Arab American : $55,117
Haitian American : $47,751
Afghan American : $43,838[2]
Subsaharan African : $43,682[2]
African American : $40,931[2]
Arab/Arabic : $39,395[2]
Iraqi American : $32,594[2]
Somali American : $22,368[2]

Not entry for Algerian Americans.

By birth country:


Algerians ahead of Germans.

No! It's a biased sample!

Nigerians have to clear huge hurdles to make it to the US legally. Only the very highest human capitals manage it. Like the pre-war Syrian/Lebanese emigres they are wildly unrepresentative of their source population.

Difficult immigration positively filters for quality. Conversely when immigration is easy, then the immigrant becomes closer to the source country levels and quality falls.

Open borders.... making sure that anyone with any brains gets the hell out of shithole countries and the countries become even bigger shitholes.... win win?

Remittances? People send money to their places of origin, they create jobs and develop the shitholes.

Of course not anyone. Not open but permeable borders.

You can see this at work here, in a 4 year old article - 'But now, the flow of migrant money around the world has shot up to record levels as more people than ever cross borders to live and work abroad. It's known as remittance money, and in 2012 it topped $530bn (£335bn), according to the latest World Bank figures.

The amount has tripled in a decade and is now more than three times larger than total global aid budgets, sparking serious debate as to whether migration and the money it generates is a realistic alternative to just doling out aid. If remittances at the level recorded by the World Bank were a single economy, it would be the 22nd largest in the world, bigger than Iran or Argentina.

And according to World Bank officials, the real figure could be much larger. Dilip Ratha, of the migration and remittances unit at the World Bank, said that billions more in remittances were not being recorded as many people were continuing to bypass the banks and big money transfer companies that are relied on for data.' https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/jan/30/migrants-billions-overshadow-aid

Excuse me if I'm mistaken but remittances are the provence of the low and medium skilled, the highly skilled immigrants limit their interactions with the home country to getting as many of their relatives as they can out of it.

'the highly skilled immigrants limit their interactions with the home country to getting as many of their relatives as they can out of it'

Fascinating. Do you actually know any highly skilled immigrants? You know, like well paid computer programmers? The ones I have known (from several very different countries, though if you wish to consider Russia, Turkey, and India as similar, be my guest) have minimal interest in having any relatives join them.

This seems an odd American obsession, in general. Take Norwegian immigrants to the U.S., a declining group - they seem to be uninterested in actually coming to the U.S., much less bringing any relatives along. And in Scandinavian terms, Norway was always considered a shithole by Danes and Swedes in the past anyways - https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2018/01/12/trump-wants-more-immigrants-from-norway-theres-a-reason-they-arent-coming/

"This seems an odd American obsession, in general."

Probably because we're one of the few countries that has family-based immigration and where this actually happens in massive numbers?

'Probably because we’re one of the few countries that has family-based immigration and where this actually happens in massive numbers?'

Actually, it is more that the American definition of 'family' is so expansive. One of the current issues concerning Brexit is that the British are attempting to remove 'family' from being allowed into the country in terms of EU citizens - which by the British definition means your wife and children.

Maybe the term immediate family would be better - that is pretty much what the EU uses, as separating married couples and their children seems inhumane.

The problem in the US is that immigrants need work or residence permits but they get citizenship. Make residence permits easier and citizenship harder.

Tyler, have you read any of the lit. referred to by Garrett Jones showing tert. education levels in a pop not driving GDP growth (no correlation)? Does this not present a problem for education selection arguments?

Further, if we follow Caplan and see post-sec education mostly a positional good, the advantage of simply bringing in people you have high tert education is a bit more questionable. At the very worst you're bringing in people who are not so smart (though the have enough to pass) but will do nothing to push the national economy forward, but are just some mix of highly personally ambitious and well connected in a corrupt economy back home.

Selection for doctors and scientists makes some sense (bring the Nigerian surgeons by all means), lawyers and MBAs I'd have to be more circumspect given the above.

Tyler is Cathedral. Education is an unquestionable good, the badge of his Brahmin surzeinity. That's why he neglects all the signalling critiques of it.

In any culture, education probably correlates pretty well with IQ. And wealth, for that matter. If you believe IQ leads to higher productivity in the long term, i.e. the immigrants' children, grandchildren, etc., then giving a preference to highly educated immigrants is a proxy way to select for those individuals most likely to increase future U.S. productivity.

Here's one way to do it:


Letting immigrants from poor country amounts to pushing tax rates up (less public goods available). And so the same question applies to both scenarios. If you think it's a good measure, why aren't you giving 95% of your income already to NGOs?

Public goods are nonrival by definition. Also, the economic literature is pretty clear that immigration is good. So I don't give all my money to NGOs because I would have less money then. But if I support immigration, I have more. See the difference?

A more careful wording would be public provisioned goods. I don't need any of your "research" to answer whether third-world immigration increases my tax rate or not.

"the economic literature is pretty clear that immigration is good"

I'm still waiting for the study of changes in political preferences among the U.S. electorate due to chain immigration from Latin America over the last 30 years and the impact that has had on personal freedom and economic growth

I think "I want to see political preferences" is a lead weight in this discussion.

That is if you mean more than that immigrants endorse and swear allegiance to the Constitution and the laws of the land.

That should be all our core belief, and after that is just a normal political process.

So it's totally fine if we import a billion arabs who then vote in Sharia law because that's just a normal political process? There's nothing at all unique about U.S. policy or U.S. people that is responsible for the success the country has enjoyed? All people and political systems are fungible, is that the claim?

I'm sorry, I didn't realize you were the sort of "Sharia law" troll who would completely disregard "immigrants endorse and swear allegiance to the Constitution and the laws of the land."

I mean surely you realize that "Sharia law" is not Constitutional.

How could you not?

OF COURSE Sharia Law is unconstitutional. But you'd have to be profoundly naïve or delusional if you believe it not likely that a large number of immigrants, after swearing to honor the Constitution, wouldn't vote to drastically change it. As an example, look at teaching creationism, oh, sorry "intelligent design", in our schools science classes. The religionists are persistent in their adherence to their doctrines. I'm sure almost all of these people believe they support the Constitution...at least their interpretation of it. (but it just needs "a few" changes.) The implication I get is that you believe that if forced to swear to something they don't agree with, that they will later abide by that. That is simply delusional.

Sharia law is perfectly Constitutional if you change the Constitution, which is allowed by the Constitution.

You have to be deeply paranoid, or deeply in a bubble of paranoia, to believed Sharia law is a realistic threat.

Reasonable people spot it for what it is, a spoiler for rational conversation.

Sharia law is a good example of something people know about and do not want. You can substitute any bad policy that you like.

Sharia law is a less documented threat than Vampirism in the US. Where are your priorities, people!

You completely dodged my question. No surprise, I guess, that you don't want to answer it.

Yes, but white/Asian neighbors become much more expensive.

Where the practical bigots and the practical egalitarians should meet is that a points system can manage immigration while containing both social and financial costs.

A 50 year old who speaks no English and has no transferable labor skill is going to have a harder time, and pay less into Social Security over his remaining career, than a 25 year old with an engineering degree.

That is what Trump wants, isn't it?

I think he wants to cut refugee and diversity programs, without expanding "points" slots, resulting in a 50% reduction in total immigration.

I don't think "zero" for refugee slots is morally or politically justified. We can help, and in so doing we encourage others to help as well.

Perhaps refugee and diversity slots can be reduced (depending on their need for the former, and our need for the later) but if you are serious about developing human capital, shouldn't the slots transfer?

I'm all for high levels of high-skill immigration, but has he been presented with such a plan to approve or disapprove? I think most Democrats and probably many Republicans are very opposed to a points-based system although it is the gold standard internationally.

As far as refugee slots, this makes no sense to me. Help the people where they are. Immigration and refugee aid should be totally separate. Of course if they qualify then let them in but don't lower your standards just because they had this one particular rough turn in their life.

What's the moral or political justification for "diversity" slots? I don't see any.

I've still not seen any real argument that demonstrates that our current population isn't sufficient. That suggests any immigration should be very selective, and probably quite small in number.

But our birth rate IS less than replacement. We need immigrants. And, I expect we will need more and more of them as we flatten the playing field for women in the workplace and as the average number of births per female continues to decline. If you haven't seen the documentation, you haven't been looking.

The only purpose for diversity immigration that I can see is that it eases International relationships, but I agree that isn't huge and isn't a reason to have a high percentage of diversity slots.

Not every immigrant from a poor country is poor. Or uneducated. Or unproductive. Indian immigrants, as a group, are basically subsidizing the less-well-off native-born citizenry.

Revealed preference: older, whiter Americans are more pleasant to live around than their own countrymen.

Building a nation is a multigenerational project. The number of years a potential immigrant spent in school is irrelevant in the long term. The dirt poor Chinese coolies imported by Peru in the 19th Century to shovel the guano chicken shit turned out to be hi IQ achievers. The Chinese expelled from California moved to Mexico and founded prosperous Mexicali. Remember the times when Jewish refugees were turned back from all ports. Immigration has to be inclusive, but yes, planned, temptative and very gradual. Throw one hundred thousand Nigerian Ph.D.s into Flint, Mich. and the water will taste Lagos tap water.

Why is "building a nation" necessary at all? Is nationhood some sort of upward and onward societal evolution? If so, it must be more or less inevitable, to be discussed in only an informational way. If not, there must be other paths that can be taken by groups of humans, directed or spontaneous. There's no proof that nationhood is desirable at all.

"There’s no proof that nationhood is desirable at all."

No, some societies just fail at the task of becoming nation states. Nigeria has never become a real nation as far as I can tell which is one reason, maybe, why so many Nigerians want out.
Germany and the US and Japan and Denmark all successfully became nations which is why so few people born in those countries want to leave (and why more people to go there rather than non-nations like Jordan or Zambia.

Lots of Germans leave Germany for any number of reasons. Of course, within the EU, there is basically no problem with such 'emigration,' and many successful German companies are global, even including South Africa, which a lot of Germans seem to think is a fine place to live, if the experiences I have heard from Germans who have done that is to be trusted.

"There is no proof..." Why gee, how profound. Please define what would constitute such "proof" (proof is "evidence sufficient to convince", last I heard). Given that every second the world is different than at ALL preceding times, what past evidence would "prove" to us that "nationhood is desirable"? Seems to me the historical record is crystal clear on what happens to populations which are not able to enforce their borders.

Nigeria was a pretty nice place when it was a British colony according to people that I know who lived there. The problem is that the political system the British left behind them didn't really work according to the embedded cultures and traditions of the locals. But the colonial days did demonstrate that a mix of western legal systems and rule of law, and African traditions and energy can work very well. S as long as the US didn't become 100% Nigerian I would think on the margin more African immigrants would improve things not make them worse.

Nigeria became independent from the British in 1960. The population of Nigeria was about 45 million in 1960, and is about 190 million now. Logos population was about 1.2 million in 1970, and is now about 20 million (estimated differ).

If they're going to end up in Western countries any way, seems like colonialism never really ended. Maybe we need to re-think it.

I don't agree with the conclusion of the article. Trump is basically right on this (which is rare). If we let people in from "sh*thole" countries, without a significant filter, you are going to get "sh*t" results. You said it yourself in the article. See the experience of Muslims in Europe as a cautionary tale...

Yes, Europe is now a disaster- Trump's friend Jim no longer goes to Paris every year.

We have a significant filter for immigrants already. Although when we didn't (1620-1920, roughly) the results were just as good.

Being born in a "shithole" country does not stick to a person for life. The enormous success that the US has had while accepting any and all immigrants is conclusive proof of this.

"Although when we didn’t (1620-1920, roughly) the results were just as good."

What a mystery.

Well, it did seem to take until the 1950s or 1960s for the idea that a couple of centuries worth of imported property were actually American citizens.

Does it ever get boring, being so boring?

"Yes, Europe is now a disaster- Trump’s friend Jim no longer goes to Paris every year."

People go to Brazil, we should become like Brazil!

"Although when we didn’t (1620-1920, roughly)"

We had a filter: only Whites were allowed to naturalize. Worked pretty well, would you like to go back to that?

"Being born in a “shithole” country does not stick to a person for life. The enormous success that the US has had while accepting any and all immigrants is conclusive proof of this."

As a logical matter, this is obviously false.

My grandmother left Europe with sh*t between her toes. Just three generations back, in a northern European country, there were not shoes for peasant kids.

And there's the lazy conflation of the perceived quality of a county with the quality of its nationals.

Well, Trump does seem to be a notably lazy man of late.

I think we can say the "secret genius" and the "just don't read the Twitter" theories of Trump are well and truly dead.

Taking a longer view, I think its inevitable that every country (including some within SSA) will have to deal with an influx of african immigrants a few decades from now. Not just the US. The particulars of when will largely depend on civil wars, famines, drought etc

They will have to deal with an influx of Africans who want to immigrate, but there is a rather large ocean in between.

I assume you have looked at population extrapolations. Africa is expected to DWARF India and China by 2100. So, it is a given (under this reasonable set of scenarios) that African emigration will balloon. It is not clear to me, however, that the USA isn't (or won't be) capable of shutting its borders. National ID cards, anyone? I suspect that our country's inability (so far) to come up with better immigration law is due to our need for peasant (or slave) labor and our desire for only "highly skilled" immigrants. Economic reality vs aspirations (aka magical thinking).

It not inevitable. There may be a influx (perhaps tsunami is a better term) of Africans who would like to emigrate, but its up to the target countries whether they become immigrants. However to date, most of Europe governments seems happy to passively sit back and polish their Darwin award applications.

It seems unlikely that a Europe that is culturally European, i.e. recognizably still Europe in any meaningful sense, will survive this tsunami. See Malmo, or the now usual 1,000 cars burned in France each New Year, or the November riots in Turin.

Not "every country" will be impacted. Although there are illegal immigrants from Africa in China, I suspect the Chinese will not allow significant immigration from Africa. No Darwin award for them, thanks.

Yes, and since you are so generous in your offer, maybe you can also see to it these new African immigrants settle in your own bucolic community, so that you and yours can witness the cultural enrichment first-hand. This is a typical example of the elite (in this case an economics professor and Bloommberg columnist) unbiddenly spending the safety and quality of life of the non-elite, who have no say in the matter. Deeds not words, friend.

Fairfax has always had a high number of such people, except diplomats, employees of the IMF/World Bank, and university students are not described statistically as 'immigrants' and thus do not easily show up in such discussions.

The odds are good to very good that Prof. Cowen has a higher number of people from Africa in both his neighboorhood and in his professional life than virtually all commenters on this web site.

'who have no say in the matter'

You also have no say where a member of an U.S. accredited foreign embassy or an employee of the IMF/World Bank or a student lives either. If you wish to point out that such people are not necessarily typical, fine, though the article tries the same, leading to your comment. Using stereotypes is such a lazy way to go through life, but then, that seems to be part of the art of dealing with the world in the age of Trump.

You might ask yourself how stereotypes (and clichés) arise. But that wouldn't fit your narrative.

You might ask yourself how stereotypes (and clichés) arise

Generally through constant repetition among those who don't know what they are talking about. Less often, though bad faith attempts to tar a group of people for some sort of advantage in the eyes of those doing the tarring.

'But that wouldn’t fit your narrative.'

Which is the one that describes what it was like to grow up in near Fairfax City and know a number of people who would never be called 'immigrants'? One assumes that such personal knowledge still applies to the area where Prof. Cowen lives and works.

"The Unbearable Accuracy of Stereotypes"

Non-random samples of size N < 10 that fit people's prejudices.

I remember sitting in a bar (in the South) and hearing an old man talk about how a black person shouldn't be playing quarterback (college football was on the tv) because he won't be "smart enough" to play the position. This old bigot knew nothing about the quarterback personally.

The odds are also good that Tyler lives in a neighborhood with a $400,000 entry fee.

Evidently the commentariat lumps all Africans, from Alexandria, Egypt to Capetown, South Africa, as basically the same person, an "African", regardless of any other factors. Similar to when someone says they like "Asian food". After all, in the case of North America, it's almost impossible to tell an Arctic Ocean Inuit from a Oaxacan Zapotec, since they're both likely to be a similar shade of brown.

Do you think Trump and his like-minded ilk could even identify Niger on a map? Or Botswana? All Trump knows is white and black.

Did you say Niger? RACIST!!!! You'll burn in HELL!!

Is there a single Inuit restaurant in the lower 49?

Let’s have more African immigrants

Because we just gotta have more Amharic - Igbo fusion food.

Any Nigerian immigrant with skills substitutes for an extant resident who has skills or could be trained. The welfare benefit is contextually unimportant and remains so even if Bryan Caplan elects to peddle fictions about trillion dollar bills on the sidewalk.

If we're sensible, any southern Nigerian who wishes to settle in the United States can take a written and oral proficiency test in the English language, submit to a physical, and submit to a quick-and-dirty background check. If he passes, he can take his place in a global queue and settle in the United States at such time he arrives at the head of the line. If he gets married in the interim, he can put his bride on the application, accept that the joint position of the two in the queue will be adjusted rearward (halfway between his antecedent spot and the end), and understand that their settlement in the U.S. will be contingent on both having passed all three tests. If he sires legitimate children while waiting, a similar procedure will be followed. Any northern Nigerian who wishes to settle in the U.S. better have a wife and children at the time he applies (whose names are on the application as well) or he better be over 40 and have a wife he's been married to for some years.

Again, from 1790 to 1840 and from 1924 to 1965 annual immigration flows amounted to about 0.125% of the extant population. Our fertility problems are not so severe as to make a compelling case for inflow more rapid and extensive than that. America isn't Spain. People banging the drums for more immigration do so because they despise the common-and-garden working class in this country, because they have the addle-pated idea that a country is a social work project, or because they're operating the Democratic Party vote farm. None of these motivations are admirable.

We can create a wee bit of room for more Nigerians by deporting krill suspended in the foetid waters of libertarian think tanks to Angel Merkel's Germany.

'Any Nigerian immigrant with skills substitutes for an extant resident who has skills or could be trained'

Such a fascinating way of looking at things. Let's try a couple of other variations - 'Any African-American with skills substitutes for an extant white resident who has skills or could be trained.' or 'Any American woman with skills substitutes for an extant male resident who has skills or could be trained.'

Yep, still sound pretty much like a typical Art Deco observation.

Let’s try a couple of other variations – ‘

You mean let's try a bad and manipulative analogy in order to make a useless (and pompous) pest of ourselves.

Well, let us try this example, and see how it works - 'Any American immigrant with skills substitutes for an extant German resident who has skills or could be trained’

Or this, which definitely is a factor in Brexit - '‘Any EU immigrant with skills substitutes for an extant UK resident who has skills or could be trained’

You are not alone Art Deco, plenty of people think just like you do.

Bret Stephens on the same topic: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/12/opinion/proud-nation-of-holers.html

"They [immigrants] don’t bring crime to cities. They drive out crime by starting businesses and families"

It seems common sense, that adding some demographics will raise crime and others will lower crime. The idea that immigrants are this magic pixie dust that sprinkle them on a city and they magically drive out crime all the time, is absurd. It's emotional propaganda.

Nigerian Americans have the highest education levels? No way. Their income levels are around $62K (household). That doesn't suggest them topping the education chart.

Indian Americans are BY FAR not just the most affluent ethnic group in US, but also the most educated. But yes, Tyler isn't very enthusiastic about us. He even discussed the possibility of bringing in laws to discriminate against us in the GIdla interview (on the pretext of fighting caste, by imagining wrongs and slights).

It feels like you wrote this, responded to the brouhaha, without quite grasping what a "sh*thole outlook" in the Whitehouse means for India.

They may have some of the highest average incomes, but if you look at wealth they are behind several other groups.

The $62k figure is for Americans of Nigerian ancestry. You probably want people *born* in Nigeria. That data is available, from 2000, with standard Wikipedia disclaimers:


Nigerian-born U.S. citizens averaged $27k in 2000, ahead of, notably, China, Poland, Portugal, Korea, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

Indians averaged about $37k, ahead of, notably, Sweden, Canada, France, Ireland, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Singapore, Japan and Spain.

South Africans were 2nd highest at $44k, which surprised me.

One confounding thing about this list: "Russia", "Soviet Union" and "Former Soviet Union" are all separate categories and their incomes are pretty different.

Ah, so education is human capital!

Interesting article -- would have been better if the President focused on the level of skills and education of the immigrants rather than the country they come from though i would imagine that a large number of immigrants are both uneducated and come from unsuccessful countries and that was the President's obvious point, which the pundits would rather overlook. The Algeria, Israel, Japan example is probably misleading because none of those countries is a significant source of immigrants. Wonder how it would have looked if instead you chose, I don't know, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Israel or Japan or Algeria. Encouraging African immigration is an interesting issue because they probably are on average more educated etc. but they then get the free stuff from race preferences in hiring and school admissions? That doesn't sound right.

If Trump wanted to improve the "quality" of immigrant coming to the U.S., there are better ways to do it than blanket reductions in the # of immigrants from poorer countries without making any additional to differentiate between individual immigrants. For example, what if the U.S. could take the 17% of Nigerian immigrants (and more, please) who have graduate degrees, but not the rest? Now, if you just want fewer black people, then a blanket reduction on immigration from majority-black countries is the way to go. That's almost surely not the optimal strategy, though, from the perspective of boosting U.S. productivity.

In other news, +3 sigma Chinese are starting to stay home:


Doesn't bode well.

hello! this is why trump base doesn't want them here: they are educated, and they increase competition for higher income.

"Flowery language"? What sort of flower did you have in mind?

The Statue of Liberty has been altered to read this: “Give me your blond, your blue-eyed, your Scandinavian masses yearning to be free of fjords,the wealthy refuse of your non-sh*thole countries. Send these, the white people, to me, I lift my lamp beside the 18th green at Mar-a-Lago.”

Emma Lazarus did write that poem The New Colossus in reference to Jews. Lazarus also advocated for the creation of a Jewish state that barred non-Jews from entry.

What a completely vile, dishonest, and racist leftist extremist Tyler is masquerading as a "tilts libertarian." The context in which President Trump was speaking was with reference to proposals to replace chain migration and the immigration lottery with skills based immigration. Tyler's piece condones the US immigration system status quo and opposes common sense reform. Tyler lacks the integrity to state that he prefers a US system in which the family members of every Nigerian who gets a green card or becomes a citizen has an advantage over other Nigerians, irregardless if the other Nigerian has a masters degree. President Trump advocates for leveling the playing field by doig away with family preferences. Similary Tyler lacks the integrity to explain in what conceivable way the racist and arbitrary US immigration lottery could ever be justified. Citizens of Canada, China and the UK have never been eligible to apply for the Diversity Immigrant Visa. In 2017, Africans made up 38,500 of the 83,910 lottery winners (45%). On what basis would Tyler justify an even higher percentage? What does he have against the Chinese? We already know he hates white people. As a Virginia taxpayer, I call on the Virginia Assembly to completely defund all of its higher education institutions. We simply do not need to fund sinecures for bigots to spew their piffle. And once again, a timely reminder that phony libertarian leaning leftists are on the wrong side of history and that President Trump is the smartest person in the Washington, DC area.

Definitely some nigerian input could raise the intellectual level of this comment community, seemingly made up largely of people on a mission from the god of irony to demonstrate the correlation of racist convictions and faulty thinking cap genes.

But I've been wondering why no one's taking on the issue of immigration from Norway. Who are they and why do they come? Trending up or down? I find it very hard to imagine Trump is helping attract them.

Definitely some nigerian input could raise the intellectual level of this comment community, seemingly made up largely of people on a mission from the god of irony to demonstrate the correlation of racist convictions and faulty thinking cap genes.

Sorry, bum. Striking attitudes like this works in faculty lounges, not among human beings.

From IAB which aggregated the census data from various countries. For USA in 2010 the pct of graduate among the Norwegian immigrants was 5.3%. From OECD data the Norway's graduate pct was 35.1%. From Lynn Norway mean national IQ is 100. That gives the estimated average IQ of Norwegian migrants to USA at 81.54. They were not sending their best. That might explain the results from WPost. In contrast the legal migrants from Mexico to USA the estimated migrant IQ calculated similarly is 85.24 . USA should get migrants from Estonia, estimated average migrant IQ to USA is 103.01 .

Correction. The above data are for emigrants from the specified countries, not to any specific host country.

TC implies that more education is better than less. Well, gosh; I wonder if he'd be willing to give up his position to someone with one more PhD than what he has? I suspect not. We have more kids pursuing Biology or Biochemical PhD`s than there will be positions for them - iirc the factor is 8X -10X too many degrees. Sure, getting the degree very probably indicates intellectual ability, but how well does that translate into societal contribution? Why would an academic exercise predict societal or economic contribution? I'd guess that that is only true when you control all the other (real world) variables, that is; at the margin. Do we need more STEM workers? Well, do YOU want that ER doctor treating your kid to have just (literally) got off the boat from the Caribbean?
(and some diploma mill)? How about an Indian trained "engineer" (which, except for the best schools there, are notoriously poorly educated)? How many scientists do we as a country need? In most disciplines, there are far more STEM PhDs graduating than positions for them (including both industry and academic slots). Or how about nursing? "We need more nurses" is the cry, but take a look at the average career half-life of an RN - two or three years. Lousy pay, lousy benefits, lousy hours, lousy management, what more could you ask for, I wonder. My point is, I guess, that the devil is in the details, and the way our government (dys)functions, it is incapable of effectively handling the details. So, maybe what we need is for the Feds to hand this off to local government (with suitable controls).

Still waiting on the universities to adopt admission by lottery.

Doesn't anyone realize that if immigration to the US is restricted to educated, skilled, intelligent foreigners, their American doltish native sons and daughters will be forced to stand farther back in the line for education and jobs behind those talented aliens? It's better to import a lower class to handle the mundane tasks instead of elites that will soon take over the well-paid bureaucratic positions.

Is the book "Hive Mind" relevant here?

The point of immigration from sh*thole countries:

1. Not always true, but generally I have found that the worse a country someone comes from, the nicer and better they are as people. Why might this be?
1.1 In order to live in a place without the rule of law, where violence might be arbitrary, avoiding offending people or needless disrespect is probably a very good skill to learn.
1.2 If you're not part of a political elite in such a place, you are stuck in a very vicious marketplace. Even if you're in a communist country, you have to have a very 'customer centered' mindset.
1.3 Survivor type filter; not easy to get out of a sh*thole country and come cross the world to a radically different culture. Given any population only the best of the best is likely to pull such a feat off.
1.3.1 Keep in mind the 'best of the best' may be hard to see. The best may not have a college degree, speak the language, etc.

2. Nice countries are, of course, nice but they have their share of losers and being nice countries, they tend to not make being a loser too uncomfortable. The people seeking to leave a nice country and come here may be very nice people....but then they could just as easily be so much a loser they exhausted even the patience and liberal sensibilities of their normally indulgent home country.

Is that how it works? Someone is a loser for a long time and then they decide they're such a big loser they will move to America? Because America has such a strong reputation as a place where losers do great?

You whities just want more African immigrants so you can oppress them.

Same reason you want blacks in your neighborhoods, but the blacks are avoiding their white oppressors as best they can.

Maybe not.

A masters degree or a PhD is one of two paths to permanent residence in the US after college. The other is through the attainment of a H1B visa. Getting a H1B visa in the US is much easier if you’re in STEM, and I predict Israelis and Japanese students earn degrees in STEM at a greater proportion than do Nigerian students. So students who earned bachelors in STEM simply choose to work rather than going to grad school, because more Israelis and Japanese kids successfully qualified for H1B (only 90,000 H1B visas are issued per year). For people without STEM credentials, however, grad school maybe be a better option than a H1B if you wish to stay in the US.

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