Poverty's Roots - One of them is high immigration rates

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From: Zhang, Yangkun (Yangkun.Zhang@FMR.COM)
Date: Tue Oct 24 2000 - 09:08:42 PDT

Note: being a Libertarian, I'm for open immigration.


Poverty's Roots
Peter Brimelow, Forbes Magazine, 08.21.00

One of them is high immigration rates.

discovered a point made earlier by FORBES (see Mixed Blessing): The long
boom has not significantly reduced the proportion of the American population
living in poverty. In fact, it was higher in 1998 than in 1973 (see graph).

Both journals cited factors of varying merit for the persistence of
poverty--family breakup, the low minimum wage! Mysteriously, neither
mentioned immigration, unleashed after a 40-year lull by the 1965
Immigration Act.

Because this new influx is relatively unskilled, the poverty rate is
significantly higher for immigrants than for the native-born (18% versus
12.1%). As the pie chart shows, immigrants and their U.S.-born children make
up 26% of the 35 million U.S. poor; this group makes up only 20.5% of the
U.S. population.

Immigration also drives down wages for the U.S.-born poor. Harvard
University economist George J. Borjas, in his book Heaven's Door (Princeton,
1999), estimates that the wage gap between high school dropouts and educated
labor widened by ten percentage points between 1979 and 1995. About half the
widening may be due to the increased supply of labor resulting from

Immigration can be a wonderful thing, as Steve Forbes compellingly argues,
and immigrants do not all collect welfare (e.g., the writer of this
article). But the fact remains that, through public policy, the U.S. is
importing poverty.

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