Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Economics of Immigration

A letter to Steve Sailer:

The immigrationists got it backwards. Countries aren't prosperous because they take in immigrants, but they take in immigrants because they are prosperous. Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are there to prove that countries can become prosperous fast without benefit of immigration.

Brazil and Argentina demonstrate that countries can take in a lot of immigrants without attaining great prosperity. Between 1880 and 1960, Brazil received about 4 million immigrants. (Two of those immigrants were my Dutch parents who emigrated from the Netherlands to Brazil in 1953.)

In fact, as you pointed out, countries can grow economically while exporting people. Between 1840 and 1965, there was both a lot of emigration from Europe and rapid economic growth there.

For most people who are pro-immigration, long-term economics have little to do with the reasons for their support. For Republicans, immigrants are a source of cheap labor while for Democrats they are potential future voters. The fact that immigrants often cause social and economic problems is unimportant to our political "representatives".

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