What Does American History Teach Us About How Immigrants Impact The Economy?

Link here. I think history helps us in a variety of ways.

First, the data put our current situation in perspective. It’s not the past 30 years of large immigration flows that are anomaly, it’s the previous 40 years (circa 1940-1980) that vary from the long-run American experience.

Second, the economy evolves over time, with some industries and jobs disappearing and others appearing, and the same is true of the flow of immigrants. The labor force needs of the late 19th and early 20th century differ from those of today’s economy, and so different people come to the US in response to the labor market signals of today. In his recent Clemens Lecture, David Card points out the bifurcated education distribution of today’s immigrants, with below-high-school graduation flows from Latin America and bachelor’s-and-above from Asia. This matches the hollowing out of the labor force that David Autor discussed in his 2016 Clemens Lecture.