Interesting Data on Immigration

Via Kevin Drum, the results from a couple of studies in California:

A study released Tuesday by the Public Policy Institute
of California found that immigrants who arrived in the state between
1990 and 2004 increased wages for native workers by an average 4%.

UC Davis economist Giovanni Peri, who conducted the study, said the
benefits were shared by all native-born workers, from high school
dropouts to college graduates....

Another study released Monday by the Washington-based Immigration
Policy Center showed that immigrant men ages 18 to 39 had an
incarceration rate five times lower than native-born citizens in every
ethnic group examined. Among men of Mexican descent, for instance, 0.7%
of those foreign-born were incarcerated compared to 5.9% of
native-born, according to the study, co-written by UC Irvine
sociologist Ruben G. Rumbaut.

This is great stuff, I hope we see more of it, because it takes on two of the more common arguments against immigration.  In particular, its good to see someone taking on the crime angle, an issue I have suspected all along of being more about racial prejudices than true statistics.  This is a particularly telling table:


I previously took on the the meme that immigration causes crime here.  My case for open immigration is here and here.  My proposed plan is here.  Note that I really try to stay away from arguing immigration within the "who is going to pick the lettuce" framework.  I think free movement across borders of people, goods, and services is a basic human right, irrespective of the effect it has on wages or lettuce.

Oddly enough, Drum didn't focus much on the positive results on wages, as he has way too much invested in the whole "erosion of the middle class" thing to acknowledge that immigration might not hurt wages (since if immigration does not hurt wages, neither does free trade or outsourcing).  Mr. Drum says he wants to think about the study.  My prediction is that he will decide the crime study is a good one but the wage study was flawed.


  1. BerthaMinerva:

    I only recently discovered your blog and love it, so I'm hesitant to start out by disagreeing, but...

    Isn't the argument about immigration and crime less about the first generation than about their children?

    I know anecdotes aren't the same as data, but here's one anyway. I belong to a large associations of landlords, and almost to a person the LLs will describe first-generation immigrants they deal with - mainly Mexican - as hard-working, honest, scrupulous people. Their kids however are a different story, tending to do poorly at school, drop out early, have kids young & out of wedlock, and engage in undesirable behavior ranging from general noisy car stereos to vandalism to outright crime.

    Clearly not ALL children of immigrants do this, but I would venture that of those native-born Latino prisoners, the majority come from parents who are first-generation immigrants.

    I'd be interested in your thoughts as to whether this is accurate, and if so, whether it makes any kind of case against illegal immigration.

  2. BerthaMinerva:

    PS meant to mention also that your link to your previous post on immigration & crime goes to the Kevin Drum post.

  3. Rob:

    "I think free movement across borders of people, goods, and services is a basic human right, irrespective of the effect it has on wages or lettuce."

    Does this mean that people from enemy nations have the right to cross our borders? Or that myself personally can come to your land and use it as a shortcut for transporting goods?

    But isn't a person (or a body of people) entitled to keep other people off their land? For example, I'm not entitled to go hunting on someone's land that says "No Hunting". If I wanted to hunt on the land, then I would be required to ask the owner for permission, without it, then I'd be violating his human rights!

    How is it different when a nation (a body of people) says, you are not allowed to come here without permission?

    If the premise is that the land of a country belongs to the people of that country, then it's for the people to decide who can come/go on the land.