An Economist Reader Says It's Better Than WSJ If You Read Carefully
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September 12, 2004

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A Reader Says He Was Right About Outsourced Billing

From: Economist Reader

Re: Life on Planet Economist, by Martin Hutchinson

As Martin Hutchinson points out, the Economist magazine is rabidly pro-immigration. It is truly the UK equivalent of the Wall Street Journal. However, a careful reading of the Economist shows that it publishes articles containing facts, figures, and information that support the restrictionist case from time to time, whereas the WSJ almost never does. I have collected some useful examples:

  • "Less back-slapping will occur during Mr Putnam's return visit next week, to a private seminar organised by the Home Secretary. That is because his research has taken a dismal turn. A large ongoing survey of American communities seems to show, uncomfortably, that levels of trust and co-operation are highest in the most homogenous neighbourhoods. People living in diverse areas, it turns out, are not just more suspicious of people who don't look like them; they are also more suspicious of their own kind. Because of that, they suffer socially, economically and politically." [Multiculturalism | The kindness of strangers? Feb 26th 2004]

  • "In the United States, wages of unskilled workers are falling, in absolute as well as relative terms. The fall is enough to hurt the workers concerned, but not to deter new immigrants. Several studies suggest that immigration has made a perceptible contribution to this decline." [Economics focus On the move May 10th 2001]

  • "But as David Coleman, a demographer from Oxford University, says, this trend is caused by structural changes—a declining birth rate and increased life expectancy—which cannot be addressed through inward migration, unless the migration takes place on a massive and perpetual basis." [Immigration | After the flood Sep 7th 2000]

  • "Last year's British Social Attitudes survey showed that a majority of working-class people, including those who support Labour, think that immigrants take jobs away from people born in Britain." [ Go away, we need you, Jan 25th 2001]

  • "All this means that some immigrants do far better than others. The unskilled are the problem. Research by George Borjas, a Harvard University professor whose parents were unskilled Cuban immigrants, has drawn attention to the fact that the unskilled account for a growing proportion of America's foreign-born. (The same is probably true of Europe's.) Newcomers without high-school education not only drag down the wages of the poorest Americans (some of whom are themselves recent immigrants); their children are also disproportionately likely to fail at school.

    "These youngsters are there to stay. 'The toothpaste is out of the tube,' says Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Centre for Immigration Studies, a think-tank in Washington, DC. And their numbers will grow. Because the rich world's women spurn motherhood, immigrants give birth to many of the rich world's babies. Foreign mothers account for one birth in five in Switzerland and one in eight in Germany and Britain. If these children grow up underprivileged and undereducated, they will create a new underclass that may take many years to emerge from poverty." [MIGRATION The longest journey Oct 31st 2002]

  • "In the United States, concludes a recent study of more than 5,200 second-generation children in Miami and San Diego, the children of Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian immigrants had grade-point scores averaging at least twice those of Mexican and Cuban children—even after adjusting for family and school characteristics."

    "In Los Angeles, Joy Chen, a second-generation immigrant, the daughter of an MIT-educated Chinese father, is deputy mayor. She waves a sheaf of charts showing that the Latino population of the city has outstripped the white; that the new jobs for which demand will grow fastest will require a college degree; and that only one in ten Latino youngsters completes college. That is half the rate for the city's blacks.

    "Still more alarming is the performance of the immigrants' grandchildren. Of foreign-born Latinos, 35% have no more than a sixth-grade education, and another 27% do not finish high school. The comparable percentages for second-generation Latinos born in America are 1% and 17%. But for the third generation, they are still 1% and 19%. 'By this time,' says Ms Chen, incongruously, 'they're us.'

    "Not surprisingly, then, the children of the educated and skilled rise more easily through the educational system of their new country than the children of the rural unskilled, and the second group has problems in the job market. The children of the unskilled, unlike their parents, are not keen to work for low pay in jobs that natives shun. After all, they are natives too. And two-thirds of them had hoped for a college degree and a professional job. Instead, a disproportionate number of second-generation youngsters are out of work." [MIGRATION Feeling at home Oct 31st 2002]

  • "On balance, host countries benefit only slightly from immigration, whereas immigrants benefit hugely.

    "Besides, young and fertile migrants grow old and their fertility rates rapidly decline. 'There are no feasible migration solutions to the age-structure change and its effects on social security,' insists David Coleman, a demographer at Oxford University, who argues that integrating the existing foreign-born and their children should come first." [ A Modest Contribution 11/2 2002]

  • "Winning consensus for an orderly policy may mean trying to pick the migrants most likely to bring economic and social gains. For the host country, this means choosing the skilled. It may also mean (although liberal democracies detest the implications) choosing those whose education and culture have prepared them for the societies in which they will live. In Europe, that may mean giving preference to white Christian Central and Eastern Europeans over people from other religious groups and regions.

    "What about asylum-seekers and family reunion? The main convention under which asylum-seekers claim rights of entry dates from 1951, when Soviet border guards shot people who tried to leave, and the West could afford to be magnanimous. Now, settling asylum-seekers has become vastly expensive: for example, the cost to British taxpayers last year was at least £1 billion ($1.5 billion), the equivalent of one-third of the country's official aid budget. Is that money best spent on the 76,000 people a year who ask for asylum in Britain, or on the millions in refugee camps in countries such as Pakistan and Uganda? And are those few who make it through the Channel tunnel really the ones most in need of protection, or are the people in the refugee camps at greater risk?"[A Better Way November 2, 2002]

  • "An elaborate legal process has evolved to determine whether an immigrant who claims the right to asylum really merits it under the terms of the convention. In recent years, the answer has usually been no. Only 12% of applicants in IGC countries in 1992-2000 won asylum status (plus a few more on subsequent appeal), and a further 6% were granted some other humanitarian ranking. In other words, 80% of those who pass through the elaborate and expensive screening process of the rich world are not considered genuine." [A strange sort of sanctuary, March 13 2003]

  • "But even if the immigration boom were to contribute as much extra growth as the Treasury now expects, there must be some doubt as to whether there is political support for maintaining it at its current level, for two reasons. First, immigration 'is now the main engine behind household growth in England and especially in the south-east,' says David Coleman, a demographer at Oxford University. More immigration either means more house-building—to which there is fierce objection—or further house-price rises, and the problems that follow from that." [The immigrants' contribution, April 25, 2002]

  • "The annual rise in per capital GDP from projected higher immigration will probably be around an eighth of a percentage point."

    "Most economists agree there will be modest gains. 'On the whole the economic impact of immigration is broadly neutral to mildly positive,' says John Salt of the migration research unit at University College London (UCL). 'The net gains are very modest,' says Richard Freeman, co-director of the LSE's Centre for Economic Performance and a member of a National Research Council (NRC) panel that reported in 1997 on the impact of immigration into the United States. The main reason is that Britain is already a very open trading economy whose imports are worth almost 30% of GDP. This tempers the potential impact of immigration since imports, in effect, embody the work of foreigners who stay put." [Who gains from immigration?  June 27, 2002]

  • "They did not foresee a situation in which tens of thousands of people would turn up having destroyed their identity documents, making unverifiable claims of persecution, whose cases would be processed by a very slow and toothless bureaucracy, with multiple layers of appeals, often aided by determined, publicly financed lawyers. In the past ten years, the numbers of asylum-seekers have shot up, from fewer than 4,000 in 1988 to more than 83,000 last year." [Asylum | Bordering on panic Jan 30th 2003]

  • "Immigration has a more significant effect on welfare spending. Foreign-born residents of America are 35% more likely to receive public assistance than natives. In large part, this reflects the poor education, larger families and weak English-language skills of many immigrants. This trend has become more pronounced because the skill levels of immigrants, relative to those of natives, are declining. Immigrants, on average, also pay 32% less in tax during their lifetimes than natives do. Combining higher welfare costs and lower tax receipts, the OECD reckons, America's federal, state and local governments were $15 billion-20 billion worse off last year owing to immigration." ["What price huddled masses, Economics Focus | Immigration]

  • "At first blush, the new findings of two professors at Columbia University, Donald Davis and David Weinstein, appear to challenge this view. Their analysis, which relates uniquely to America, claims that immigration into the United States costs native workers around $72 billion a year, equivalent to nearly 1% of GDP. That is a much bigger figure than economists previously reckoned. As it happens, it is about the same scale of losses which America makes from pursuing protectionist trade policies." [A price worth paying? May 30th 2002]
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