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By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Analyze historical patterns of immigration
  • Explain economic effects of immigration
  • Evaluate notable proposals for immigration reform

Most Americans would be outraged if a law prevented them from moving to another city or another state. However, when the conversation turns to crossing national borders and are about other people arriving in the United States, laws preventing such movement often seem more reasonable. Some of the tensions over immigration stem from worries over how it might affect a country’s culture, including differences in language, and patterns of family, authority, or gender relationships. Economics does not have much to say about such cultural issues. Some of the worries about immigration do, however, have to do with its effects on wages and income levels, and how it affects government taxes and spending. On those topics, economists have insights and research to offer.

Historical patterns of immigration

Supporters and opponents of immigration look at the same data and see different patterns. Those who express concern about immigration levels to the United States point to graphics like [link] which shows total inflows of immigrants decade by decade through the twentieth century. Clearly, the level of immigration has been high and rising in recent years, reaching and exceeding the towering levels of the early twentieth century. However, those who are less worried about immigration point out that the high immigration levels of the early twentieth century happened when total population was much lower. Since the U.S. population roughly tripled during the twentieth century, the seemingly high levels in immigration in the 1990s and 2000s look relatively smaller when they are divided by the population.

Immigration since 1900

The graph shows that number of immigrants between 1900 and 1909 was (in thousands) 8,202. In between 1910 and 1919 the number was 6,347. Between 1920 and 1929, the number was 4,296. Between 1930 and 1939, the number was 699. Between 1940 and 1949, the number was 857. Between 1950 and 1959, the number was 2,499. Between 1960 and 1969, the number was 3,213. Between 1970 and 1979, the number was 4,248. Between 1980 and 1989, the number was 6,248. Between 1990 and 1999, the number was 9,775. Between 2000 and 2008, the number was 10,126.
The number of immigrants in each decade declined between 1900 and the 1940s, but has risen sharply in recent decades. (Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Yearbook of Immigration Statistics: 2011 , Table 1)

Where have the immigrants come from? Immigrants from Europe were more than 90% of the total in the first decade of the twentieth century, but less than 20% of the total by the end of the century. By the 2000s, about half of U.S. immigration came from the rest of the Americas, especially Mexico, and about a quarter came from various countries in Asia.

Economic effects of immigration

A surge of immigration can affect the economy in a number of different ways. In this section, we will consider how immigrants might benefit the rest of the economy, how they might affect wage levels, and how they might affect government spending at the federal and local level.

To understand the economic consequences of immigration, consider the following scenario. Imagine that the immigrants entering the United States matched the existing U.S. population in age range, education, skill levels, family size, occupations, and so on. How would immigration of this type affect the rest of the U.S. economy? Immigrants themselves would be much better off, because their standard of living would be higher in the United States. Immigrants would contribute to both increased production and increased consumption. Given enough time for adjustment, the range of jobs performed, income earned, taxes paid, and public services needed would not be much affected by this kind of immigration. It would be as if the population simply increased a little.

Questions & Answers

what's economic
kamal Reply
Please help me how to compute national income. what are those included on national income like for an example in W= WAGE what included in wage ?
love Reply
what is competitive market?
Shantal Reply
a compataive market is when there are many producers competating to provide consumers with a goods and services needed
in a compitative market no single producer or consumer can dictate the market
types of demand elasticity
Farouq Reply
What is price elasticity of demand and its degrees. also explain factors determing price elasticity of demand?
Yutansh Reply
Price elasticity of demand (PED) is use to measure the degree of responsiveness of Quantity demanded for a given change on price of the good itself, certis paribus. The formula for PED = percentage change in quantity demanded/ percentage change in price of good A
its is necessarily negative due to the inverse relationship between price and Quantity demanded. since PED carries a negative sign most of the time, we will usually the absolute value of PED by dropping the negative sign.
PED > 1 means that the demand of the good is price elasticity and for a given increase in price there will be a more then proportionate decrease in quantity demanded.
PED < 1 means that the demand of the good is price inelasticity and for a given increase in price there will be a less then proportionate decrease in quantity demanded.
The factors that affects PES are: Avaliablilty of close substitutes, proportion of income spent on the good, Degree of necessity, Addiction and Time.
Calculate price elasticity of demand and comment on the shape of the demand curve of a good ,when its price rises by 20 percentage, quantity demanded falls from 150 units to 120 units.
Helen Reply
5 %fall in price of good x leads to a 10 % rise in its quantity demanded. A 20 % rise in price of good y leads to do a 10 % fall in its quantity demanded. calculate price elasticity of demand of good x and good y. Out of the two goods which one is more elastic.
what is labor
Grace Reply
labor is any physical or mental effort that helps in the production of goods and services
what is profit maximizing level of out put for above hypothetical firm TC = Q3 - 21Q2 + 600 + 1800 P = 600 MC = 3Q2 - 42Q + 600
Sosna Reply
consider two goods X and Y. When the price of Y changes from 10 to 20. The quantity demanded of X changes from 40 to 35. Calculate cross elasticity of demand for X.
sorry it the mistake answer it is question
consider two goods X and Y. When the price of Y changes from 10 to 20. The quantity demanded of X changes from 40 to 35. Calculate cross elasticity of demand for X.
The formula for calculation income elasticity of demand is the percent change in quantity demanded divided by the percent change in income.
what is labor productivity
Lizzy Reply
if the demand function is q=25-4p+p² 1.find elasticity of demand at the point p=5?
Puja Reply
what are some of the difference between monopoly and perfect competition market
Obeng Reply
n a perfectly competitive market, price equals marginal cost and firms earn an economic profit of zero. In a monopoly, the price is set above marginal cost and the firm earns a positive economic profit. Perfect competition produces an equilibrium in which the price and quantity of a good is economic
what are some characteristics of monopoly market
Obeng Reply
explicit cost is seen as a total experiences in the business or the salary (wages) that a firm pay to employee.
Idagu Reply
what is price elasticity
it is the degree of responsiveness to a percentage change in the price of the commodity
economics is known to be the field
John Reply
what is monopoly
Peter Reply
what is taxation
is the compulsory transfer of wealth from the private sector to the public sector

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