Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Krueger on Immigration

Alan Krueger is an empirical labor economist at Princeton, who was previously chief economist at the Department of Labor during the Clinton Administration (and long ago was a grad student at Harvard). Here he offers his contribution to the immigration debate. An excerpt:

First, confident predictions that immigrant inflows have depressed the wages and employment opportunities of U.S. workers, particularly of the less skilled, belie an unsettled and often unsupportive research base. The best available evidence does not support the view that large waves of immigrants in the past have had a detrimental effect on the labor market opportunities of natives, including the less skilled and minorities. Any claim that increased immigration resulting from the Senate Judiciary Committee’s bill will necessarily reduce the wages of incumbent workers should be viewed as speculation with little solid research support.

Second, a guest worker program that does not permit free mobility by foreign workers admitted to the U.S. carries significant risks to the U.S. economy. Job shopping is an essential protection against exploitation and inefficient allocation of resources. Limiting the mobility of guest workers would be a step backward for the U.S. economy.