The Economy Needs More High Skilled Immigrants

Forbes
June 15, 2012

Over at the Atlantic I have an articleco-written with economist Noah Smith arguing for more high skilled immigration. We discuss reasons why everyone should support this, and reasons why conservatives and liberals each should support it as well. We hope that it says something about this issue that it has the two of us writing in agreement, despite the big differences we have ideologically, and the many policy disagreements we have.

High skilled immigrants represent an easy pareto improvement that everyone should agree on, and allowing more of them would reduce an important global distortion that would increase wealth. This would improve our long and short-run growth prospects, and really we should do it now.

But I don’t mean to imply by this article that we shouldn’t let in low-skilled immigrants. This is what, for instance, the blogger Daniel Kuehn seemed to take away from the article. Low skilled immigrants make an important contribution to the economy. As Alex Tabarrok has argued, someone who mows a physicists lawn so that he doesn’t have to is making a contribution to physics. There are many other reasons to support low-skilled immigrants, including because it makes their lives much better off and we should care about their welfare.

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