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Immigration benefits the US economy 100 years later too

Posted on March 25, 2019
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US economy

Immigration benefitted the US economy historically and continues to do so even today after 100 years. This is as per the latest study of the Review of Economic Studies. It has found that specific counties in the US have lower unemployment, less poverty, and higher incomes. These had higher immigration historically.

Immigration and the US political debates:

The US Oxford University Press observes the significant impact of immigrants on their communities of settlement. It also notes the discussion in current political debates. The focus is usually on the short-term impact of immigration. The benefits or long-term consequences are however not highlighted.

The OUP researchers have examined the period between 1850 and 1920. They investigated the impact of immigration on the US economy. There was a dramatic rise in immigration to the US in this period. The sources of immigration also changed, as quoted by the Sci-Tech Europa.

The % of the overseas-born population in the US from the UK, Germany or Ireland was 90% in 1850. It decreased to 45% by 1920.

The economic benefits of immigration to the US:

The OUP research indicates that enhancing the % of immigrants in a US county by 4.9% results in the following:

  • 13% rise in current usual per capita income
  • 44% rise in usual manufacturing output per capita from 1860 to 1920
  • 78% rise of the above in 1930
  • 37% rise in farm values
  • 152% rise in figures of patents per capita

The social criticism against immigration:

Sandra Sequeira the lead author of the research paper said that one thing is fascinating. The present US history is that of exceptionalism. However, there are many similarities that can be drawn between the past and the present times, she adds.

The similarities are:

  • The large inflow of unskilled workers
  • Little but crucial inflow of highly skilled innovators
  • The short-lived social retort against immigration

A lot has to be learned by taking a long-term perspective on the immigration debate, concludes Sequeira.

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