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Are Immigrants the Secret to America’s Economic Success? (Answer: Yes!)

March 21, 2024 (1 min read)

Paul Krugman, New York Times, Mar. 19, 2024

"[There is] growing evidence that immigration is helping the U.S. economy — indeed, that it may be a major reason for our surprising economic success. ... But are immigrants taking jobs away from native-born Americans? No. ... Still, doesn’t immigration put downward pressure on wages? That sounds as if it could be true — in particular, you might think that immigrants with relatively little formal education compete with less educated native-born workers. I used to believe this myself. But many (although not all) academic studies find that immigration has little effect on the wages of native-born workers, even when those workers have similar education levels. ... Overall, then, immigration appears to have been a big plus for U.S. economic growth, among other things expanding our productive capacity in a way that reduced the inflationary impact of Biden’s spending programs. It’s also important to realize that immigration, if it continues (and if a future Trump administration doesn’t round up millions of people for deportation), will help pay for Social Security and Medicare. C.B.O. expects 91 percent of adult immigrants between 2022 and 2034 to be under 55, compared with 62 percent for the overall population. That means a substantial number of additional workers paying into the system without collecting retirement benefits for many years. ... [T]he recent surge in immigration has actually been good for the economy so far, and gives us reason to be more optimistic about the future."