immigration

  • Source: "Six degrees and separation"  

    Educated ImmigrantsSome breakdowns on American immigration - for 2015, the last year with data, when looking at the 1 million people given green cards (i.e. permanent resident status), about half or 50% were immediate relatives of citizens (the so-called 'chain migrants'). Then 20% more got their cards because of preferences given to other family members. Then about 15% were sponsored by companies and about 10% got in as refugees. That left about 5% who got in through our lottery system. However, what stands out is how many of these green card holders have college degrees. That percent was about 27% in the late 80's - it has risen to 50% in 2015. Immigrants were more educated than the average American in 26 different states. 

    Some background on a points-based immigration system. From the article: "In 1967 Canada became the first country to introduce a points system for immigration; Canada and Australia now both give priority to would-be migrants with degrees, work experience and fluent English (and, in Canada, French). Some of the president’s advisers think this more hard-headed system is better than America’s family-centered approach. The doomed immigration bill from 2013 that died in the House of Representatives also reflected widespread enthusiasm for a points-based system. Two things ought to temper this enthusiasm. First, Canada and Australia have concluded that pure points systems do not work well. A surprisingly high share of the people admitted this way ended up unemployed. Both countries have since changed their immigration criteria so that applicants who have job offers in their pockets may jump the queue. Second, migrants who move to America to join family members have become much better educated."

    A charity, Upwardly Global, helps highly educated immigrants translate their foreign degrees into American equivalents. 

  • Source - Economist, Nov 24, 2018: "The big, beautiful Wall"     

    We built a wall 550 miles long in 2006 (Secure Fence Act). It had a negligible (crossings down by 0.6%) effect on Mexican migration. See this NBER working paper for details - “Border Walls” by Treb Allen, Cauê de Casto Dobbin and Melanie Morten. A better solution is to reduce trading costs between Mexico and the US which will benefit both countries and reduce wage discrepancies which attract Mexican migrants in the first place.

    From the article: "So what effect did the first 550 miles have? Not much, suggests an analysis by economists at Dartmouth and Stanford Universities. Arrests at the southern border dropped after the fence was built, but this cannot be attributed completely to the wall, since those years also saw a deep recession. Still, by using a confidential data source—the id cards issued by the Mexican government, through its consulate, to its citizens living as immigrants in America, many of them illegally—the economists have isolated the effect of the new fencing on migration flows. And they calculate that it reduced the number of Mexican citizens living in America by only 0.6%. Mexicans immigrate to America illegally because of the lure of high-paying jobs. Policies that increase wages in Mexico tend to drive down migration. Cross-border trade costs more than trade within America over the same distance due to tariffs and border delays. The authors simulate the effects of a 25% reduction in cross-border trade costs and find that migration would have shrunk more than under the Secure Fence Act (by an additional 34%). Yearly benefits for both uneducated and educated American workers would increase—by $59 per head and $81 per head, respectively."

  • Source: "Hidden masses"  

    Japan has always been a homogenous country. Less than 2% of its population are foreigners (compared to 16% for France and 4% for North Korea). A recent poll showed Japanese split 50-50 in support of letting more foreign workers into Japan (although 60% of those between 18 and 29 were in favor of letting in more workers while 30% of those over 70 opposed it). The Japanese government has been historically cool to the issue. From the article: "The case of nikkeijin, immigrants of Japanese extraction, is instructive. They have the right to move to Japan based on family ties and so provide an easy way around the restrictions on low-skilled migrants. In theory they should be easy to integrate; many are familiar with the culture and speak some Japanese. In practice, however, the government has made no effort to help them. The children of nikkeijin do worse in school than those of other immigrants. The clearest sign of the government’s ambivalence came in 2008, when the economy took a turn for the worse and unemployment rose. It offered nikkeijin free flights and other subsidies to move back to their home countries if they promised not to return."

    Currently, there are 1.3 million foreign workers in Japan or 2% of the workforce, an all-time high. The Japanese government is allowing more immigration to occur via a Designated Skills visa that prioritizes workers in the agriculture, nursing and construction fields.

  • Source - Economist, November 17, 2018: "Land of the rising bills"     

    Statistics on Japan's aging population. The problems demography causes for Japan will be a preview of what the Western democracies can expect as their population ages. Increasing retirement ages and rethinking pension and medical benefits may be necessary to avoid running out of funds. Increased immigration to replace missing workers will also be needed.

    Every year, Japan has 400,000 more deaths than births. This is exacerbating a worker shortage - the Japanese workforce syands at 67 million today but is expected to fall to 58 million by 2030. Increased immigration has not helped as immigrants only make up 2% of the Japanese workforce (compared to 17% in the United States). Overall, there are 1.6 jobs for every Japanese worker.

    28% of the Japanese population is over 65, compared to 15% for the US and only 6% for India. Retirement programs, which begins at 60 in Japan, have placed a burden on the economy. Public debt is now 250% of GDP. The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is considering mild reforms such as raising the retirement age to 65. Reforming the pension and medical system will be difficult and unpopular.

  • Source: "Last stop before desert"  

    Niger MigrationAgadez is a city of 200,000 in Niger on the border of the Sahara desert. It exists because it is the last stop before the desert as you move north out of Africa. For centuries, it profited from trans-Saharan trade. Now it profits from trans-Saharan migration. After the toppling of Qadaffi in Libya in 2011, thousands of Africans moved through Agadez on their way to Tripoli, from which they hoped to cross the Mediterranean into Europe, usually through Italy. 

    From 2014 to the present (2018), about 600,000 migrants have passed through Agadez on their way to Tripoli. 2016 show the largest migration - 330,000 people that year. On average since 2000, 100,000 people a year pass through Agadez on their way to Libya. And the economy of Agadez is dependent upon these migrants: 6,000 residents were directly employed in trucking migrants across the desert and 1 in 2 households in Agadez indirectly profited from the flow.

    Now the EU has put pressure on the government of Niger to enforce its anti-trafficking laws. Those caught transporting migrants today face jail time and confiscation of their vehicles. As a result, the flow of migrants has been reduced. Now less than 15,000 people a year pass through Agadez en route to Libya. Algeria has also stepped up its enforcement efforts and routinely turns back migrants who attempt to cross the border from Niger.

    This means the United Nations has more refugees to deal with in the region. Those refugees include Sudanese fleeing violence in Darfur; 60,000 from Mali also fleeing war and 250,000 Nigerians fleeing persecution from the jihadist group Boko Haram. 

    Situation demonstrates how migration routes are tied to incentives. Like water, people flow through the paths of least resistance. 

    In the southernmost Libyan city of Sabha, migrants are reportedly being enslaved and sold.