Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Research suggests wall not needed; immigration slowing due to Mexican demographics

Although the White House's plan to construct a massive wall on the southern border is taking its first steps forward, new research suggests that the influx of low-skilled immigrant workers is dropping. Forces far more powerful than a wall already act to keep immigrants out — an aging population, Anna Swanson writes for The Washington Post.

"In a new paper, economists at the University of California at San Diego argue one of the main factors boosting immigration to the United States from Latin America in recent decades — a growing supply of workers in Latin American countries — has already dried up," Swanson writes.

"The paper looks at changes in economic conditions, border enforcement and demographics in the United States and Latin America to try to isolate the factors that encourage people to migrate," Swanson writes. "It finds a strong relationship between the number of people born in Latin American and Caribbean countries and the percent change in immigrants to the United States between 1980 and 2015."

While the baby boom in the United States ended in the 1960s, "Mexico and other Latin American populations began to see a surge in population during the 1970s and 1980s," Swanson writes. "By the early 1980s, the supply of labor in the United States was beginning to slow as the baby boomers aged, but that same change didn’t occur in Latin America until two decades later."

Researchers Gordon Hanson, Chen Liu and Craig McIntosh found that "during the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, that created a dynamic where low-skilled people in Latin America could do better economically by avoiding tougher competition at home and seeking out work opportunities in the United States," Swanson writes.

Populations among most Latin Americans are aging, just like in the United States. "In 1980, the median age of a Mexican-born person in the United States was around 20. In 2015, it had doubled to 40. By 2040, the researchers predict it could be roughly 70, as the chart below shows," Swanson writes. (Chart from rseearch)
"The researchers argue that aging populations will give low-skilled workers from those countries less motivation to immigrate to the United States, even without a massive border wall, as there will be reduced competition for jobs in their homes," Swanson writes. "They calculate the number of young, low-skilled workers coming into the United States from Latin America will continue to slow in coming decades." (Read more).

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