The Economist: Immigration Fuels Global Growth03 Dec 2012
Now that Congress has comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) within reach – if not yet its grasp – members are surely wondering how their efforts will be judged by the hometown voters, especially those who think CIR will do more economic harm than good.
According to a recent article in The Economist, immigration skeptics, like free-trade skeptics before them, would do well to take the long view – and for similar reasons – because “evidence suggests that increased flows of people across borders could ignite global growth,” without pushing down wages in wealthier countries. [See Border Follies: Liberalising Migration Could Deliver a Huge Boost to Global Output, The Economist, 17.Nov.2012.] According to The Economist:
“The economic case for migration is similar to that for free trade. Trade benefits countries by letting workers specialize in activities in which they are relatively more productive, raising output. And the larger market created by trade spreads the fixed costs of innovation more thinly, encouraging the development of new goods and ideas. Governments began the long march towards trade liberalization after grasping that its upsides outweigh its costs, leaving a surplus large enough to compensate the losers.”
Put another way, a more flexible approach to immigration – one that’s responsive to market demands – will lead to a more efficient allocation of economic resources, more innovation, and more growth. Precisely how we get there is still a matter of debate, and it will be up to Congress to fill in the details. Let’s hope the Economist article circulates widely on Capitol Hill; it’s a valuable contribution to the public discussion, and a timely reminder of immigration’s many benefits.
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