Wednesday, October 26, 2016

What the National Academies study does not say

The National Academies of Sciences (NAS) recently published a mammoth, book-length study of the economic impact of immigration. It features comprehensive reviews of the existing literature as well as original analyses, with the underlying finding that immigration has both benefits and costs. How people weigh those effects determines their position on the overall issue.

For a general summary of the NAS study, I recommend George Borjas's blog series. (Borjas was my advisor in graduate school.) And for a discussion of the long-term fiscal effects, please see my piece for National Review.

Though I was pleased with the quality of the NAS study, I was displeased to see the media attribute conclusions to it that it never actually drew. Specifically, some media outlets are claiming that the study found no significant wage or employment effects on natives. I first saw this claim in an ABC News "fact check" of Donald Trump. (Regular readers already know how I feel about the fact-check movement.) Here's part of my response that I wrote for the Center for Immigration Studies:
The study's authors are very open to the idea that immigration depresses wages. For example, the fourth chapter of the study is devoted to an economic model in which immigration improves efficiency by reducing the wages of native-born workers by $494 billion. The next chapter lists nine different studies that find at least some negative wage effects, mostly on lower-skilled workers. "While many studies conclude that, economy-wide, the impact of immigration on average wages and employment is small, a high degree of consensus exists that specific groups are more vulnerable than others to inflows of new immigrants," the study says. It goes on to name prior immigrants and low-skill natives as examples of groups hardest hit. 
The "little to no negative effects" on wages is not even a quote from the study itself, but rather from a press release accompanying it. And ABC's fact-checker leaves out a crucial qualifier in that press release: "little to no negative effects...in the long term" (emphasis added). It is true that as capital adjusts over time to accommodate a new group of immigrants, wages should revert to pre-immigration levels. This is actually an assumption built into some immigration models. Efficiency gains as well as wage effects disappear in those models in the long run, leaving natives no better off than they were without immigration. But, more importantly, if we keep taking in over a million immigrants every year, then new short-run wage losses are suffered over and over, and the long run never comes! 
The National Academies study simply does not say, either literally or in spirit, that immigration has no effect on wages. Furthermore, the conceit that such a sweeping and decisive "fact" could be derived from the study's chapter-length, much-caveated review of a complex literature is implausible.
The misleading "little to negative effects" claim appears to have originated in a New York Times article about the study, though at least it offered details. After ABC News latched on, it was repeated in a Wall Street Journal review of George Borjas's new book. It's time to retire this narrative.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Video and reaction to panel event

Our panel on Monday, titled "Immigration and Less-Educated Workers," was a success. My thanks to the whole Center for Immigration Studies staff for putting on a good show. Video of my presentation is embedded below.



CIS has the rest of the videos -- including Amy Wax, Charles Murray, and Steven Camarota -- collected here.

The panel has received an unusual amount of media attention because of Charles Murray's declaration that he no longer supports low-skill immigration. National Review, The Daily Caller, Breitbart, and several other sites reported on it.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Panel event on Monday, September 26th

This Monday I'll be presenting my recent paper, "Immigrants Replace Low-Skill Natives in the Workforce," with commentary by Amy Wax and Charles Murray. Please attend. It's free, and you don't even have to register.

WHAT: Panel discussion on immigration and the crisis of labor-force dropout

WHEN: Monday, September 26, 2016, at 3:30 p.m.

WHERE: National Press Club, Bloomberg Room, 529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor, Washington, D.C.

WHO:

JASON RICHWINE
Richwine, an independent public policy analyst and National Review contributor, will present his recent publication, “Immigrants Replace Low-Skill Natives in the Workforce.”

CHARLES MURRAY
Murray is a political scientist and W.H. Brady Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. He is author of, among other books, Losing Ground and Coming Apart.

AMY WAX
Wax is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Her work addresses issues in social welfare law and policy as well as the relationship of the family, the workplace, and labor markets.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

New CIS report: Immigrants replace low-skill natives in the workforce

I have a new report out today for the Center for Immigration Studies. It is a numbers-heavy return to the theme of my American Conservative article from a couple of months ago. From the conclusion of the new report:
The United States has been a magnet for low-skill immigration even as low-skill natives have worked less and less. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that immigrants replace natives in the workforce. However, note the careful choice of the word replace. The results presented in this study do not prove that immigrants push out (or displace) natives. Competition from immigrants is just one of many potential explanations for declining work among low-skill natives....
Regardless of the reasons that native-born men are not working, immigration devalues the problem. Instead of searching for ways to get natives back to work...government and business leaders have brought in immigrants to do the work instead.... Immigration restriction alone may not solve the problems endemic to the American underclass, but it restores the incentive to help.
Read the whole thing here

Saturday, July 16, 2016

More on America's immigration controversy

Another satisfying interview with Stefan Molyneux posted below! We talk about welfare use, assimilation, "Schrodinger's immigrant," the problems suffered by low-skill natives, guest worker programs, and who sets the terms of debate in Washington.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Immigration is a band-aid

The American Conservative has published my new op-ed, "The Immigration Band-Aid," in which I discuss the connection between low-skill immigration and the native underclass. A sample:
It is often said that immigrants “do the jobs that Americans won’t do.” While there are no major immigrant-dominated jobs in the U.S.—even about half of drywall installers are native-born—the claim does contain a kernel of truth. For over 50 years, a growing percentage of native-born American men have dropped out of the labor force altogether. For these men, every available job is a job they won’t do. Rather than focus on reversing the trend of idleness among native men, American politicians and business leaders have bandaged the problem with immigrant labor. A steady supply of new immigrants means less need for low-skill native workers, and the idleness problem is left to fester.
Read the whole thing there. And stay tuned for more from me on this topic.