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Brooks Wilson's Economics Blog: Caplan on Immigration

Monday, October 11, 2010

Caplan on Immigration

I believe that most economists are mystified by the strong public sentiments against immigration.  Let me be clear that I don’t wish to nit pick with those who favor legal immigration but not illegal immigration.  If you prefer, my comments apply to illegal immigration.  Although I have not seen a survey of economists on this issue, it is my guess that a majority would claim that the cost of immigration is small or that the nation benefits from the additional resource.  Russ Roberts interviewed Bryan Caplan last week on the topic of immigration (“Caplan on Immigration”).  In the interview, Caplan is asked to defend immigration using empirical findings and economic reasoning against six of the main arguments that are used to oppose it.  The arguments are
1.  The U.S. needs restrictions on immigration in order to protect American wages.

2. Restrictions are necessary to protect the American taxpayer from abuse of the welfare state by immigrants.

3.  Restrictions to protect American culture including but not limited to the use of English.

4. Immigrants who do not understand our political system are going to damage our relatively free and prosperous economy by turning the United States into the kind of country they fled.

5. The increase in population in congested areas would harm naturally born citizens.

6.  Immigration increases crime.
After listening to the podcast, read the comments.  Caplan did not convince most of those who took the time to respond to his arguments.  As an economist, I found his arguments persuasive.


  1. Alejandra Olivas16/10/10 9:49 PM

    I agree that Bryan Caplan did good on defending immigration because of his statistics in the positive influence immigration has caused for the economy. Not only for the economy but also for culture, language, and race. There all things in which really will not hurt the society of America but be more diverse like it has always been. There really aren't any specific cultures, or race that have lived in America since the beginning. American culture in reality is basically made up of different cultures from other countries that have come together and still are.

  2. -Robert Jackson
    I agree with Alejandra, I believe that Bryan Caplan did an excellent job on defending immigration. It's so strange to me that some people are against immigration completely although there ancestors had to have came from somewhere. Like Alejandra said, no culture has magically been in America since it's formation and is still here. Immigration provides a plethora of resources and causes America as a whole to be benefited.

  3. I disagree with illegal immigrations passing to and from with no consequences. Currently there is no enforcement of the law because our government is to weak when it comes to supporting our borders.

  4. Alejandra Olivas20/10/10 5:59 PM

    Just because they are illegal immigrants it does not mean they are bad so why should they get consequences? Most illegal immigrants are here for a better life just like anyone else and in order to have that life they need to cross the border. Not only that but if they were to come in legally it would take them years or to at least be approved. Also the government is not weak is just that it will cost more money to secure the border to where not even an ant will be able to pass through or maybe the government sees that the illegal and legal immigrants are affecting the economy positively by for example increasing wages and decreasing prices in merchandise.

  5. Travis Corley2/11/10 4:41 PM

    I agree with Caplan. Illegal immigration takes away from americans wages. If our economy is going to increase than these illegal immigrants must be stopped. They could be hurting our economy.

  6. I agree with those who said that Caplan did a good job defending immigration. One thing he states in the podcast is that people believe immigrants are abusing welfare states and getting the most money but the elderly are actually the ones getting the most money. Even though immigrants are poor they pay taxes longer than elderly because most of the time immigrants are young. Illegal immigrants pay more taxes then the benefits they get.These are good points he made to defend immigrants.
    Kimberly Farias

  7. Jaclyn Salinas13/11/10 2:42 PM

    I am not against immigration, but I am against illegal immigration. Those that work their hardest to become a U.S. citizen have to learn our culture, customs, political system and traditions and because of that they know that the American life is a life of integrity, honor, and value. In saying this, I don't agree with Alejandra in that illegal immigrants shouldn't get consequences... They are ILLEGAL. It's a privilege to be an American citizen and not a God-given right. It may take years to become an approved citizen.. but if immigrants truly want a "better life" they will put the long-term effort in becoming a citizen. What do you say to those that have followed our laws to try to become a U.S. citizen? For someone to enter our nation illegally and reap the benefits of our nation is wrong. Illegals don't pay taxes, and free load off hard working Americans. We live in a law-abiding country... if people want to benefit themselves by coming into this country, they need to respect our laws and values. I believe to be a true American, you must contribute something to the nation.