Immigration Math: It’s a Long Story

Via The New York Times

MUCH of today’s debate about immigration
revolves around the same old questions: How much do immigrants
contribute to production? Do they take jobs away from people born in
the United States? And what kinds of social services do they use? Yet
every immigrant represents much more than just one worker or one
potential citizen. To understand fully how immigration will shape the
economy, you can’t just look at one generation — you have to look into
the future.

Sociologists and economists
are just beginning to study the performance of second- and
third-generation members of immigrant families. Because of the variety
of experiences of people from different countries and cultures, it’s
not easy to generalize. But recent research has already uncovered some
pertinent facts.

Education is a good place to start, because it’s
strongly correlated with future earnings. Children of immigrants
complete more years of education than their native-born counterparts of
similar socioeconomic backgrounds. “You can expect a child of
immigrants whose parents have 10 years of education to do a lot better
than a child of natives whose parents have 10 years of education,” said
David Card, a professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley. Being a child of immigrants, he said, “sort of boosts your drive.”

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