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.