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Immigration: The Economic Consensus

At Marginal Revolution, Alex Tabarrok has posted the text of an open letter summarizing the economic consensus on immigration. If Gregory Mankiw, Vernon Smith, Tyler Cowen, and Brad DeLong agree, it's worth taking to heart.

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Immigration for Academics:

Matthew Yglesias challenged those academics who signed the economists' open-letter on immigration to endorse scrapping the H1B visa system "and instead allow unrestricted immigration of foreign college professors." "If there's really no difference between 'us' and 'them' economists should be leading the charge to disassemble the system of employment protections they enjoy," writes Yglesias. No problem, say Brad DeLong and Greg Mankiw (via Daniel "Bring It On" Drezner).

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Immigration for Academics II - Answering the Challenge:

Jonathan Adler's recent post cites Matthew Yglesias' challenge to academics who support open immigration. Yglesias writes:

I'll believe that this is all about altruism when I see an open letter from economists we scrap the complicated H1B visa system and instead allow unrestricted immigration of foreign college professors without all these requirements about prevailing wages, work conditions, non-displacement, good-faith recruitment of natives, etc.

OK, here goes:

I hereby announce my unequivocal support for the proposition that the US government should allow universities to hire professors without regard to the job applicant's citizenship status or national origin. There should be no government-mandated "requirements about prevailing wages, work conditions, non-displacement, [or] good-faith recruitment of natives."

In reality, universities are rarely if ever prevented from hiring foreign academics by visa rules even in the status quo. Almost every top tier law school I know of (including GMU) has at least a few foreign professors (not even counting immigrants like myself, who had US citizenship prior to entering academia). In my experience, visa considerations virtually never influence law school faculty hiring decisions; I suspect that the same is true in other academic fields. Therefore, I doubt the validity of Yglesias' claim that if visa requirements for academics were scrapped, "there could be many more [foreign professors], wages for academics could be lower, and college tuitions could be significantly lower." However, my support for open academic immigration is not contingent on the accuracy of this prediction. If Yglesias is right about the effects of eliminating visa requirements for professors and I am wrong, I believe that would actually strengthen the case for doing it.

Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free . . .

. . . . and your unemployed academics!

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Immigration for Academics II - Answering the Challenge:
  2. Immigration for Academics:
  3. Immigration: The Economic Consensus
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