US Immigration: “The Best and Brightest to the Front, Please”

Immigration is one of the most talked about political topics in the US and seems to dominate every speech around election time. Political figures have tried to find the “perfect” immigration system (the newest one being a $15 billion wall). But what do economists think about this issue? NPR’s Planet Money asked three different economists for their ideal immigration system for America’s borders. One of these economists came up with a plan titled, “the best and brightest.”

The first plan was given by Dean Baker, the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. His “dream system” for American immigration would be one in which the high skilled workers from other countries are given priority with visas. The argument here is that immigrants who are scientists, doctors, and engineers will improve the economy more than low skilled workers.  Some may see this plan as raising ethical problems, but Baker contests that this policy would help with other problems, such as health care. With more doctors flowing into the labor market there would be more competition, which would be followed by a decrease in the cost of health expenses. But there could also be a decrease in labor supply in the food/services market, as labor in that market is generally low skilled. Baker’s plan puts emphasis on improving more crucial markets like health care and tech. The answer to the immigration question for this economist is “the best and brightest.”

An immigration plan for only the best and the brightest can sound a little cutthroat, but many economists view this system as being the most beneficial for American citizens. The Chicago Booth School of Business does surveys for economists and they posed the question: “would average U.S. citizens be better off if we let more highly educated workers immigrate?” 37 of the 38 economists responded with an answer similar to Baker’s. But this survey only covered a tiny portion of the expert economists in the US. There are most likely a range of differing opinions among American economists just like American political figures, as the search for the “perfect” policy continues.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *