Immigrants Improve US Productivity

Is Immigration Good for America?

Depending on their ideology and incomplete data, politicians, media, unions, and technology companies espouse disparate views. A recently published, detailed economic impact study, sheds a clarifying light on the productivity of immigrants compared to the native American population.

Jennifer Hunt of the National Bureau of Economic Research summarizes (PDF; 63 pages) that immigrants as a group make significant contributions to US productivity, but is dependent on the type of visas used to arrive in the US.

Immigrants who arrive on temporary work visas or for graduate studies earn higher wages, are more inventive in terms of patents granted and thus make higher contribution to US productivity. Immigrants also bring entrepreneurial zeal and are more likely to start successful companies. Students and US-educated work visa holders also had huge publishing advantages over the native population.

Ms Hunts finds that this advantage is primarily conferred by the higher levels of education in specialized fields of immigrants. Interestingly, many of the advantages narrow, or ever disappear, once the data is controlled for education.

Immigrants who arrive in the US as legal permanent residents (Green Cards) earn wages similar to natives.

Immigrants who arrive on dependent visas (generally spouses and family), and those who arrive at an older age, actually suffer from a wage handicap and earn less wages than Americans with comparable education and experience.

2 thoughts on “Immigrants Improve US Productivity

Add yours

  1. interesting article, arun.

    all of my friends that have immigrated here have earned graduate degrees and contribute greatly to both our national knowledge base and technological or cultural advancement. personally, i am grateful for their immigrating here – and their friendship!

    1. Thank you Jessie for your generous attitude.
      Immigrants additionally are separated from their family and culture and yet work hard and ‘make it’ here. Should be an inspiration.

      Immigrants also have a responsibility to assimilate culturally and give back to their new hosts and be good citizens.

      Thank you.

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