One of the nastier political debates is over immigration–and of course not all of that is about the economics of the subject. Some of it is undoubtedly about the fears of the indigenous population that the place they know and love will be changed by said immigration. That’s not a totally invalid observation of course either, as the various Amerinds of the Americas found out and as the Celts of the my native UK did. But the economics of immigration is relatively straightforward–of course it’s economically beneficial, how could it be otherwise? There are though various levels to the benefit and we’ve an interesting new report that walks through them.
This new report is from the National Academies of Sciences and can be found here in all its 500 page glory. Rather than you reading through all 500 pages through it’s rather easier to just pick up the highlights from others who have done so.
As Timothy Taylor points out the conventional economics of the subject is that immigration doesn’t change employment all that much.
The conventional wisdom on the economic effects of immigration is that the effect on jobs is minimal. The number of jobs in a developed economy expands over time as the population expands–whether the growth in population is from native-born workers or from immigration. Unemployment rates rise and fall with recessions and upswings, but there is no long-term trend to higher unemployment rates over time.
Just to explain that a little more. Sure, of course the immigrants take jobs when they get here. We might think that that leads to there being more unemployment among the indigenes. But that’s not quite how it works. The immigrants bring their labour with them, sure they do. But they also bring with them their demand for the goods and services produced by others.
By Tim Worstall for Forbes
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