Sunday, September 28, 2008


It's sad to hear things like this; that the financial crisis is cutting jobs and educated foreign people are finding it hard to stay in America due to work requirements. It should be obvious that a skill-based system like the ones Britain and Canada have, rather than a work and family run system, makes the most sense. I'm surprised you don't see more liberals argue for such a policy, as it reduces inequality (having more elites drives down the fees they charge) while improving efficiency and equity.

I'm for all sorts of immigration, but you do have to wonder about the long-run impact of tacitly allowing large-scale immigration of relatively poorly educated Hispanics. It's in their best economic interest and helps many people here as well. But you also have the Heckman result that family environments matter for educational attainment, and then the Godin-Katz result that education is driving trends in the distribution of income. I once asked Heckman about the implications of his research on immigration policy, but he was a bit evasive. Well, America will be home to a large number of people with sub-optimal education and income levels persisting across generations. Again, this is probably an optimal welfare transfer, but it's out of synch with the policy for foreign professionals and calls for some public policy (like early childhood intervention).


Dan said...

Dan said...

the british system is fucking stalinist, i prefer the american way

Thorfinn said...

Sure, a voucher system represents the best of all worlds, but there is no way the American system is better than Britain's.

To get here, you have to follow the following steps:

I believe in free movement of people, but there are clearly tradeoffs when it comes to immigration. Britain/Canada are upfront about these tradeoffs and design a simple system to make it easy for productive people to enter. The American system doesn't believe in tradeoffs and instead has a crazy, nonsenical system that minimizes skilled workers and maximizes unskilled.

Bolkonsky said...

if by maximizing unskilled labor you mean promoting illegal immigration because of excessive demands, well, thats a slightly different, and much more intractable problem. i suggest a giant public works project along the border called the hoover wall. or just pay ranchers $100 for an immigrant's scalp. 150 dollars if they just wound them, so they can run back and tell the others, like the mongolians did.

but in terms of legal immigration, using firms as the gateway is best. provided of course that work visas are more easily obtained and higher capped. skilled workers are not going to immigrate unless they already have a job offer, while unskilled labor is unlikely to be able to obtain that job offer.

plus theres nothing wrong with a long waiting period for a green card and citizenship. youre enjoying most of the benefits by work and residence, not citizenship. unless you try to to return from canada after during a college trip and make all your friends WAIT FOREVER.

given more leeway, especially higher caps for work visas, i think firms would be much better at regulating skilled immigrant supply and demand.

an immigration board is going to be much more clumsy about finding slots to fill, or filling them twice because of industry shifts. people dont immigrate to fill an industry slot, they come for guaranteed work.

plus its more easy to politically oppose a more "communist" immigration reform than super awesome free market immigration reform. as long as it's phrased just so.

Bolkonsky said...

why does this blog change my name

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