Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Grecian horse: does immigration lead to the deterioration of American institutions?

April 18, 2018
Kayak Conference Room

Dr. Alex Padilla will be speaking on immigration Friday, April 27, at 10:30 & 2:15 in the Schaible Auditorium. Here is a copy of his recently published paper: The Grecian horse: does immigration lead to the deterioration of American institutions?

Concerns about the institutional impact of immigration, particularly in the United States, are not new. We can trace them back to Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Alexander Hamilton. More recently, in response to a literature that questions the desirability of current immigration restrictions, Borjas (J Econ Lit 53:961–974, 2015) speculates that immigrants coming from countries with poor institutions could reduce substantially the institutional quality in the United States to a point where it could negate all economic gains associated with immigration in terms of GDP and income. Using the Economic Freedom of North America index since 1980, we find no evidence to corroborate Borjas’s concerns. However, we find mixed evidence that immigration increases minimum wages and union density.

Here is a short video that frames some of the arguments against immigration: The 5 Best Arguments Against Immigration—and Why They're WRONG

Are there, however, other legitimate reasons to slow down immigration into the United States? Philip Cafaro argues that a serious commitment to environmentalism entails ending America’s population growth by implementing a more restrictive immigration policy. The Environmental Argument for Reducing Immigration to the United States

Was Alexander Hamilton right about immigration? Hamilton’s Actual Views on Immigration

What about Milton Friedman's argument that you can't have free immigration when you have a welfare state? Milton Friedman on immigration

1 comment:

  1. Just some thoughts over this week’s material:

    I really enjoyed Milton Friedman’s clip. When I watch his lectures, I am always struck with a desire to have coffee with this guy. He just is so entertaining and accessible. Watching the clip, I tend to agree that free immigration is a thing of the past. That said, I do not agree that it is an economic argument. His assertion is that the welfare state precludes pre-1914 immigration rates. This would generally entail immigrants using welfare money at the same, or higher, rate as native citizens, while contributing less. The short video, “The 5 Best Arguments Against Immigration-and Why They’re WRONG,” brought up the statistic that immigrants are more likely to be involved in the work force than non-immigrants. This seems to make the case that immigrants are contributing members of our society economically, not wastoid welfare recipients as Friedman feared.

    “The Environmental Argument for Reducing Immigration to the United States” struck me as insincere. It tried to argue for environmental protectionism while ignoring the world that exists outside our borders. They make a good case that we, as American citizens, should be mindful of our natural resources and land. They argue that immigration increases environmental damage within our borders. In doing so, I think they ignore two big factors. First, pollution isn’t a result of energy use, rather it is the result of how the energy was made. The idea that a Chinese person is more of an environmental threat as an immigrant in the U.S. than in China is simply wrong. China may have less per capita energy use than the U.S., but the production of particulate emissions is staggering in China when compared to the U.S.’s relatively clean energy production. There was a period of several years where China was completing a new coal-powered electrical plant every two weeks. Chinese (and Indian) cities are heavily represented in the top 100 of the most polluted cities worldwide according to the World Health Organization, yet the U.S.’s first entrant on the list was in 1,080th place (Visalia, CA). Second, the focus on number of people in the country seems misguided. As a country, we have been dealing with our pollution problems with technology and legislation, not a one child policy. Why the sudden focus on population growth when it comes to a few tens of thousands of people entering the country?

    Alex Padilla’s paper was very interesting. It is heartening to see that the U.S.’s “pickiness” when it comes to accepting immigrants does allow us to gain economic benefits while not affecting the institutions that allow for economic freedom and economic growth. However, I wonder how this is balanced by the increasing pressure by some groups to allow refugees into the country. I am not sure the paper properly addresses alternate forms in immigrating to the U.S.