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PPIC study: immigration helps native-born workers

The Public Policy Institute of California recently released a study [1] claiming that immigration has raised wages for native-born workers (even if it might lower wages for previous immigrants). Put in context, this study - or at least the reaction to it - appears to be an attempt by some to push for "comprehensive immigration reform", aka a massive amnesty. [2] These promoters will concentrate on the study and refuse to acknowledge that there are non-economic factors that need to be considered, and that those factors are far more important than purely fiscal matters.

As an attempt to underline that, I sent an email to the author of the study, Giovanni Peri of UC Davis, asking him to answer some questions [3]. To his credit, he replied quickly and honestly. And, he did so with the expected answers, and ones that those who attempt to use this study to springboard to amnesty would do well to understand:

You are asking me to comment on things that I have no authority or specific knowledge of. I am an economist and do research, look at data and use the most advanced methods to address issues concerning immigration and the labor market. The report tries to make some of these results less technical and available to a broader public.

Illegal immigration is a very relevant problem that involves many different aspects. I hope informed policy makers will analyze it carefully and propose a solution. I am completely unqualified to discuss issues of corruption and interactions between the US and Mexican government.

Bolding added. Are those "policy makers" going to analyze everything involved in this issue, or are they simply going to wave this and similar studies around and use them to push the U.S. into something that will have disastrous consequences? Based on past events, the latter will probably be the case. When you see someone touting this study, point out that there are many other facets of this issue, and all of them need to be weighed when determining the best course of action.

[1] "Principal findings": (link)

1) There is no evidence that the influx of immigrants over the past four decades has worsened the employment opportunities of natives with similar education and experience, 2) There is no association between the influx of immigrants and the out-migration of natives within the same education and age group, 3) Immigration induced a 4 percent real wage increase for the average native worker between 1990 and 2004, 4) Recent immigrants did lower the wages of previous immigrants.

[2] Juliana Barbassa of the Associated Press offers "Immigration seen as boon to natives:Influx helps create jobs, study says":

The flow of immigrants into California has helped increase wages and job opportunities for native-born workers, said a study released Tuesday that challenges the long-held belief that newcomers take jobs from Americans... Immigrants don't compete directly with native workers for jobs, but tend to bring different skills to the workplace, said the Public Policy Institute of California report. This allows native workers with the same education level to take more specialized, better paying jobs... The report comes as lawmakers continue to debate immigration reform...

Susan Ferriss of McClatchy Newspapers offers "Study finds immigration raises wages of native-born workers"

In a surprising new study with national implications, a University of California economist found that immigration boosted the average wages of the native-born worker in California by at least 4 percent between 1990 and 2004... California's experience "makes a good economic case," Peri said, for reforming the U.S. immigration system to allow more immigrants to enter legally to perform work...

Kevin Drum at Washington Monthly offers "Immigration: Not the source of all our problems after all":

So are these studies legit? I can't say for sure, but the objections offered up by the immigration hawks at the Center for Immigration Studies were so transparently lame that it suggests they don't actually have any credible criticisms of the methodology. They just don't like the results. But perhaps they'll be able to come up with something better after they've cogitated on the matter for while.

kos from DailyKos offers "Studies: immigrants raise wages; are more law-abiding":

It sucks for the xenophobic wingnuts when their talking points are contradicted by the facts...

...So they raise wages and are incarcerated at dramatically lower rates than native born Americans.

So why are we supposed to hate them so much?

Marc Cooper offers "Back to the Border":

The second piece refers to a new study by researchers at UC Davis. Bad news for the shut-the-borderoids on both the right and left. The study finds that immigration has "boosted the average wages of the native-born worker in California by at least 4 percent between 1990 and 2004." Poof! There goes the favorite argument of the yes/but liberals (and neanderthals) on the subject.


Could you please answer the questions below for publication at my website You don't have to go into detail unless you want.

1. You do realize your latest study is being used to support the agendas of those who profit from illegal immigration, right? Is there anything you're doing to counteract them using it in that way?

2. Could you put a rough dollar amount on the cost of massive political corruption in the U.S.? Hopefully you'll agree that one of the main reasons why there are so many illegal aliens in the U.S. is because of political corruption: politicians could have prevented a very large part of those illegal aliens from coming here, but they chose not to for one reason or another (campaign contributions, racial solidarity, business deals, etc.)

3. Could you put a rough dollar amount on the cost of giving the Mexican government political power inside the U.S.? If we have to factor what Mexico wants into our internal political decisions because some portion of our political leaders and similar have direct or indirect links to that government, doesn't that cost us money?