Anil Varanasi

US Immigration

Free movement of capital is considered paramount in policy and discourse but arguably free movement of labor is even more important. Allowing free movement of labor would approximately double global output. This is further noticeable with migration to the United States: “Migrants to the U.S. are up to six times more productive than migrants to other countries—even after accounting for talent during one’s teenage years.” – Agarwal, Ganguli, Gaule, Smith.

A paper by Doran and Yoon showed the US massively restricting immigration in the 1920s reduced patents in industries and suggests that “at least during the golden age of American invention, it was plentiful labor that made the inventions characteristic of the era worthwhile”. Programs like Operation Paperclip and The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 had tremendous effects, the latter removing restrictions based on country of origin, completely reshaping demographics. Even Lyndon Johnson himself didn’t quite foresee the second-order effects at the signing: “This bill that we will sign today is not a revolutionary bill. It does not affect the lives of millions. It will not reshape the structure of our daily lives, or really add importantly to either our wealth or our power.”

Nobel Immigrants

The US has had the potent advantage of being the primary beneficiary of migration. “Talent is the most precious resource for today’s knowledge-based economy, and a significant share of the US skilled workforce in technology fields is foreign born. The United States has long held a leading position in attracting global talent, but the gap between the United States and other countries is shrinking.” – Kerr

Global Migration

This is changing

The Census Bureau estimates that the contribution of net in-ternational migration to US population growth was about 1.07 million in 2016, before falling steadily to 0.48 million by 2020. Cumulative net international migration from 2017 to 2020 has been about 2.1 million below what would have oc-curred if pre-2017 trends in annual inflows had continued(Figure 2). If we extrapolate the data into 2021, we estimate that the US population is missing about 3 million recent immigrants relative to pre-2017 trends, a large majority of whom would have been of working age.”

Census 2021

Please email any other relevant suggestions; particularly the counterarguments.

Last updated 2021