<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >

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 is a monopsony?
Allan Reply
monopsony is a situation where only one buyer is available in the market
And with many sellers?
economic is tha process of banking
hashmat Reply
Pls can u explain it into details
Cause I don't understand what you are saying
brownies price is 5$ quantity demand is 5000$ supplied is 3000 if brownies are not taxed how many are consumed?
Fel Reply
what is unemployment
Rita Reply
ok so what would u say is supply in your own terms
Odessa Reply
why the demand curve is downwards sloping and supply upward sloping
Odessa Reply
the dd curve is downward sloping because consumers dd less when price is high and vice versa the ss curve is upward sloping suppliers are willing to produce more when prices are high
what is dead weight loss
when the prices of supplies slop upward then the prices of demand curve will increases downward
Why scarsity is considered to be very important in the study of economics
Sesay Reply
How can you solve the problem of scarcity
If there is a enough quantitative the problem of scarcity would be solved.
what is demand
aliyu Reply
Demand refers to the quantities of a commodity which consumers are willing and are able to buy at given prices.
demand is the number units of goods or services that buyers are willing and able to buy at verous prices
what is a full form of GDPCP?
Sadhna Reply
if the price of a commodity is at 6$, is the magnitude of the excess supply
Emma Reply
The quantity supplied at a price above or higher than $6 would be the excess supply
2003, and $12,700 in Korea. Assume the growth rates for each country remain the same. 1. Compute the doubling time for
6$ the quantity remained the same
write shirt note of the following terms normal goods
Adamu Reply
what is normal goods
what is a full form of GDPCP?
evaluate measures to remove the deflationary gap?
Tinotenda Reply
State four importance of economics
School Reply
1) Economics help us to know how gouvernement,society, individuals and house holds allocate scarce resources 2)Economics help give us valable knowldge on daily decisions 3)Economics also help us to better understand economy 4)Economics help us better our daily life
thank you dr
what is scarcity?
MCclean Reply
what is economics
why is economics not consider as pure science?
Economics is defined as science that studies human behaviour as a relation between ends and scarce means
Economics is not considered as pure science because it only deals with currency and human behaviour...
Scarcity refers to a limited supply of goods and services
What is Stock exchange?
Rock Reply
An exchange where security trading is conducted by professional stockbrokers
A place where scurity trading is conducted on an organised system

Get the best Principles of economics course in your pocket!

Source:  OpenStax, Principles of economics. OpenStax CNX. Sep 19, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11613/1.11
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Principles of economics' conversation and receive update notifications?