Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fixing the Economy

Late last Sunday night, my cousin asked me what should be done to fix the economy. I was too tired to answer the question then, and never got around to it the next day. So:
The best way to fix the economy would be to substantially increase high-skilled immigration.
There are no downsides to this policy. It is the closest thing you will ever find in Economics to free money for everyone. There are millions of people who want to come to our country to start companies, invent things, buy houses, raise families, and do scientific research.
The benefits would be both immediate and enduring. People moving in will start buying things, which will boost the economy and provide employment in the short run. It is a powerful fiscal stimulus that costs the government nothing. Then over the years, the things they create, improve, or invent will provide more economic growth, more jobs, and better products for everyone.
There is no economic debate about this. Every economist, no matter what their training, beliefs, and ideology, agrees. There is some evidence that low-skilled immigration lowers wages for low-skilled Americans, and therefore some opposition to that, but nobody opposes high-skilled immigration. Even low-skilled immigration is good for the economy overall.
Perversely enough, the fact that there is no argument means that the issue does not get the attention it deserves. It also makes it hard for me to write an interesting post about the issue. I cannot think of any serious arguments against high-skilled immigration, so there is really nothing to explain.

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