Immigrants and Rising Econmic Opportunity

From an article in the NYT by Adam Davidson On Money

“It might seem intuitive that when there is an increase in the supply of workers, the ones who were here already will make less money or lose their jobs. Immigrants don’t just increase the supply of labor, though; they simultaneously increase demand for it, using the wages they earn to rent apartments, eat food, get haircuts, buy cellphones. That means there are more jobs building apartments, selling food, giving haircuts and dispatching the trucks that move those phones. Immigrants increase the size of the overall population, which means they increase the size of the economy. Logically, if immigrants were “stealing” jobs, so would every young person leaving school and entering the job market; countries should become poorer as they get larger. In reality, of course, the opposite happens.”


“Economists have shifted to studying how nations so quickly adjust to new arrivals. The leading scholar on this today is Giovanni Peri of the University of California, Davis, who has shown that immigrants tend to complement — rather than compete against — the existing work force. Take a construction site: Typically, Peri has found, immigrants with limited education perform many support tasks (moving heavy things, pouring cement, sweeping, painting), while citizens with more education focus on skilled work like carpentry, plumbing and electrical installation, as well as customer relations. The skilled native is able to focus on the most valuable tasks, while the immigrants help bring the price down for the overall project (it costs a lot to pay a highly trained carpenter to sweep up a work site). Peri argues, with strong evidence, that there are more native-born skilled craftspeople working today, not fewer, because of all those undocumented construction workers.”

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Education, Innovation, Immigration

“When you look at the factors that drive success, the large variation between counties starts to make sense. Many counties combine all the main ingredients for success. Return, again, to Boston. With numerous universities, it is stewing in innovative ideas. It is an urban area with many extremely accomplished people offering kids lessons on how to make it. And it draws plenty of immigrants, whose children are driven to apply these lessons.”

The Geography of Fame

Welcoming Immigrants

When I first arrived in Massachusetts in the 1970s the constant refrain was how the area was dying. Young people, especially, were fleeing the state to find more opportunity elsewhere. And then, sometime in the 1980s, the Massachusetts Miracle began to happen. Although it took years before people began to understand what was happening, it soon became apparent that Massachusetts was growing and thriving and the reason for this change was due largely to one phenomenon: the large number of immigrants who were coming into the country and calling Massachusetts home.

A quarter of a century later, although we still welcome immigrants, we tend to take them for granted. We forget that they are largely responsible for the continuing economic success of our Commonwealth (both upper and lowercase “c”). However, a new relationship has occurred. Our children are flocking to the cities to immerse themselves in the diversity they find there. They want to experience the different cultures they grew up with and to expose their own children to the multicultural world they are a part of.

I read an article in the paper today about other states, cities and towns beginning to realize the upside of welcoming immigrants: immigrants are more likely to be entrepreneurs and to start small business; they are dependable and hard-working; they encourage friends and family to join them, expanding the population of their adopted city. With this new growth comes new opportunities, jobs, the need for additional goods and services and an increasing number of employees for expanding companies.

Massachusetts continues to welcome new immigrants, in fact to encourage immigration because we know that our successes rely on keeping the door open to those who will strive to encapsulate the American experience; to experience what living in a free, democratic society means to them and their families. We also realize that Massachusetts is a thriving, expanding Commonwealth once again because of their presence here.

This is why so many people from the Bay State advocate for immigration reform. To ensure that families will no longer be torn apart by deportations. To demand that employers pay fair wages to all their employees, that they don’t eschew American workers because they can pay slave wages under the table to immigrants who are afraid to complain. To guarantee that new energy and new ideas will be encapsulated in our schools and businesses so that we can remain a leader in innovation.

Immigration policies: looking at history

. ” We have been down that road before, with grim results. The Asiatic exclusion laws, in force from the 1880s to the World War II era, were openly racist attempts to protect America from the “yellow peril” and “unassimilables.” These laws not only prohibited most prospective immigrants from China and other Asian countries from entering; they also excluded all Asians from naturalized citizenship, including merchants and professionals who were otherwise legal residents. In most Western states exclusion from citizenship also meant exclusion from owning agricultural property and from a range of occupations, from teaching to commercial fishing.

A More Perfect World

I’m reading a news story on Myanmar. Most people probably wouldn’t stop to read this story about a small nation they really know nothing about, so why am I reading it? Well, I once had a student from Myanmar and her story was so touching that I always read about what’s happening to see if there is a possibility that she could return home (although at this point I know that is highly unlikely).

I realize that my experiences are what drive me to stay current on the events taking place in other countries. In addition to the student from Myanmar, I have also taught students from China, Taiwan, Japan, Panama, Guatemala, Brazil, Columbia, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Iraq, Cameroon, the Azores. And many of my colleagues have immigrated from these places as well as Nigeria, the Caribbean and the Middle East.

I have friends and family members who have served in the Peace Corps in Ghana, Benin and Burkina faso, and who have studied in Botswana and South Africa. I have traveled to England, the Netherlands and Greece and have friends from the British Isles, Italy and many other countries around the world. My ancestors emigrated from Japan, Germany and Sweden.

Considering the many countries that make up this diverse world, this is just a small sampling; however, each of these locales brings to mind a picture of someone whose life has touched mine and I can’t resist reading about the things that are happening in the “home” countries of my family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances.

I live a much richer life because of this opportunity to learn so much about other peoples and other cultures and I realize that, without this personal contact, most people are not driven to stay informed about the world around us. As we become more connected through technology, it will become more important to know and understand what drives people from every country and continent and to realize not only our differences, but also our similarities and through this understanding create a more perfect world.

Illegal Texans

I think Texans need to take a closer look at Mexico. When Texans won the war with Mexico, they originally incorporated as a nation state, but then later decided to become one of the already established American states. They realized that Texas did not have the vast resources that the continent had.

Ever since that time there have been Texans who talk about recession. If they had stayed or returned to a nation state, it is very likely they would be having the same problems that Mexicans are currently having with drug lords. Texas has even less resources than Mexico. It does not have the farmland or the water resources to feed it’s people.

Just imagine trying to build a fence around Texas to keep out all those illegal Texans.