America’s Competitive Advantage: How Economists View Immigration

For three years I worked at Tacoma Refugee Choir, a choir composed of refugees, immigrants, and community members, who write and perform original songs. While the choir generated primarily positive feedback and comments, there were moments when the choir experienced xenophobia rooted in fear and misconceptions surrounding immigration. Since many of these misconceptions surround immigrants’ effect on the economy, I felt it was important to view immigration through the lens of an economic student.

Immigration is a long-debated topic in American society that divides and polarizes conversation. Common misconceptions surrounding immigration have caused many Americans to support building a wall along the Mexico border in an effort to close off America to immigrants. In fact, a poll conducted by Rasmussen found that 51% of Americans believe that illegal immigrants are taking jobs away from American workers. However, illegal immigrants tend to take jobs Americans aren’t willing to take and therefore having immigrant workers complements native born workers. Additionally, 25% of entrepreneurs are immigrants with over half of America billion-dollar companies founded or co-founded by immigrants, meaning that immigrants create thousands of jobs every year.

In 2017, 1470 economist wrote a letter to the President expressing that economists view immigration as an opportunity rather than a threat and classify immigration as one of America’s greatest competitive advantages. Immigrants positively contribute to the economy through paying taxes, supporting the Medicare and social services system, filing for patents, gaining higher education, offsetting America’s falling birth rate, and taking jobs Americans are unwilling to work. Despite economists from all over the political spectrum agreeing, some Americans are still unwilling to recognize these benefits to our economy.

One Reply to “America’s Competitive Advantage: How Economists View Immigration”

  1. Great addition to the SoundEcon blog. It would be so useful to know the percentage of jobs which go unfilled when immigration declines. Are there studies which use these legal changes to estimate the complementary employment from immigrant workers.

    Thank you for this discussion and for your contributions to our community through your work with the Tacoma Refugee Choir. I’m very interested to know more about this organization.

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