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Thursday, October 13, 2005


Edward Hugh

"They also hold down the pay rate for all other low-paid workers"

This is the argument of an economist like George Borjas in the US, who has consistently argued that Afro Americans are the main group disadvantaged by immigration.




Center for Immigration Studies
Increasing the Supply of Labor Through Immigration Measuring the Impact on Native-born Workers
By George J. Borjas
May 2004

President Bush and some members of Congress have proposed legalizing illegal aliens and substantially increasing legal immigration. Economic theory predicts that increasing the supply of labor in this way will reduce earnings for natives in competition with immigrants. This study examines the economic impact of increases in the number of immigrant workers by their education level and experience in the work force, using Census data from 1960 through 2000. Statistical analysis shows that when immigration increases the supply of workers in a skill category, the earnings of native-born workers in that same category fall. The negative effect will occur regardless of whether the immigrant workers are legal or illegal, temporary or permanent. Any sizable increase in the number of immigrants will inevitably lower wages for some American workers. Conversely, reducing the supply of labor by strict immigration enforcement and reduced legal immigration would increase the earnings of native workers.

(Me again Edward) The argument is more complicated than it seems. Immigration - like anything else - is not a 'pure good', there are pluses and minuses and winners and losers. Of course I (notoriously I hope) am completly with you, but the argument isn't as simple as it sometimes seems.

The UK 'national' left has long existed. In the 60s it was joining the common market which was going to disadvantage the lower paid British worker with competition from all that cheap European labour. And perhaps intellectuals with a bit more clout than PT - like Cambridge economist Bob Rowthorn - have voiced opinions against immigration. I don't think they're racist, any more than, say, José Bove is, I just think they are nationalistic, and this cramps their vision. As you point out, at the end of the day there are also compelling economic arguments why they are wrong, including the lump of GDP fallacy.

"Tim Worstall makes a different point - that hers is a selfish, 'Little Englander' perspective"

I absolutely agree with him, but Tim needs to be just a little bit careful here since his preferred UK party - the conservatives (the English, not the British party as I like to say) - could surely often be accused of exactly this. Lesson: not everything breaks down nicely into left and right, and today less than ever.

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