Immigration: The Unfortunate Third

, Spencer Irvine, Leave a comment

An economist from Agnes Scott College claims that highly skilled immigrants actually create jobs for Americans.

Every 100 or more foreign-born advanced degree holders working in the U.S. create 44 jobs for Americans, Madeline Zavodny, an economics professor at Agnes Scott College said this summer in a speech at the Cato Institute. When foreign-born, highly skilled workers with an U.S. college degree go into science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers, they create 262 jobs for Americans, she asserts.

Zavodny also pointed out that a couple of successful Silicon Valley companies were founded by immigrants As well, the foreign-born apply for and obtain twice as many patents as Americans, creating new businesses and even new industries in the process.

“There is surprisingly little evidence” of immigrants taking American jobs. She admits that one specific study that found that immigrants with college education could take jobs and wages away from American college graduates, but overall, she says of the available research: “it is very mixed.”

Interestingly, Zavodny lamented that caps on immigration were placed on China, India and Mexico. Of these, arguably, the latter is not widely considered a source of highly skilled immigrants.

“Immigrants are disproportionately at the extremes,” Zavodny said. They either have no high school degree or have a PhD, she pointed out.

Zavodny said that at least a third of immigrants come from Mexico and Latin American countries where basic education is at a premium. Of the remaining two-thirds, immigrants are “twice as likely as Americans” to have PhD’s and just as likely to have a Master’s degree, Zavodny says.

Nonetheless, current congressional efforts to create a “path to citizenship” for “undocumented workers” are designed to aid the unfortunate third. Although the record on whether they take American jobs may be mixed, there is no evidence that they create any.

Spencer Irvine is a staff writer at Accuracy in Academia.

If you would like to comment on this article, e-mail