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Immigration is a very sensitive issue in the U.S. Some say immigration makes America and its economy stronger whereas others argue that immigration is just simply harmful. Regardless of what you believe in, let’s approach this issue as an economist. Although it is true that economists themselves are divided on this issue, here are some facts and statistics to consider:

President Obama mentioned yesterday, “It is time to fix our broken immigration system.” The White House also argues that there are studies which show that “common sense immigration reform will strengthen the economy, spur innovation, and increase U.S. trade and exports.”

According to the nonpartisan congressional budget office, immigration reform would increase real GDP by 3.3 percent in 2023 and 5.4% in 2033, which means an increase of 700 billion dollars in 2023 and 1.4 trillion dollars in 2033 in today’s dollars. Higher GDP often means a better standard of living. Immigrants also generate business income. About 28% of new business in 2011 was generated by immigrants. This means since there are more companies hiring workers, the labor demand goes up for the labor market and possibly higher employment rate. For example, in 2007, immigrants employed about 4.7 million workers.

Another fact is that about 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants. These companies employ more than 10 million workers worldwide and generate 4.2 trillion dollars of revenue. Of course, there are negative consequences as well. However, can it outweigh the positive effects that immigration can generate?

Here is an interesting video about immigration (The Daily Show):

So… What do you think?




  1. peaseley peaseley

    I agree that the United States needs to overhaul the immigration policy. It is unfortunate that illegal immigration is such a polarizing because it receives too much attention. The United States needs to also focus on attracting talented people from around the world to move to america and help our economy. Many people believe that illegal immigration hurts our economy buy occupying jobs and using public goods(I am not saying that this is necessarily true). However their is much more evidence that immigration in general is not only good for a country but might by vital to its long term future.

    • gjeong gjeong

      Well, the United States is already trying to attract skilled labor from other countries by providing sponsorships and green cards. For example, if I, as an international student, get PHD, then I can apply for green card. This is why a lot workers from India and Asian countries come to the States and become U.S. citizens. Regarding the immigration issue, it is very sensitive issue. However, statistics show that the economy can grow much faster with immigrants.

  2. All (or almost all) of my ancestors immigrated sometime between 1620 and 1890. Ditto yours, right? – if you aren’t yourself an immigrant. So this is a classic insider/outsider issue. But do insiders operate in the same labor market as immigrants? But from a macro perspective, there’s a sorting issue in the background: migrating takes gumption and (often) skills and finance. Plus we as a nation don’t have to pay for their initial upbringing and education – their labor force participation rate is very high. So where are we hurt?

    And if there is labor market competition, isn’t it in the high end of the labor market, with immigrants competing against locals for I-banking jobs? Doesn’t the US stand policy on its head from the perspective of college graduates, those most politically active? Why doesn’t our political economy make comparatively unskilled immigration easy and skilled immigration hard? I know only one person working on that puzzle, and their focus is on Japan (why do they make it easy for the unskilled to come?) not the US.

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