The Economics of Immigration is a compilation of essays by top economists and researchers and edited by economist Ben Powell. I learned much about immigration from this book and it had me questioning my views on the issue along the way.
The book is separated into two parts: Social Science and Public Policy. The first part looks at what the social science research shows regarding the economic effects, fiscal impacts, assimilation, and an international comparison of employment visas when examining immigration. The second part has three distinct views on the appropriate policy to deal with immigration: market-based approach that allows prices of visas allocate the number of immigrants, an assimilation-concerned approach that would substantially cut the levels of legal immigration, and an open-borders approach that would let people migrate as they please with minimum (or no) government influence.
Immigration is a major issue that continues to dominate presidential elections and state politics, particularly in Texas. While there is still much that we don't know, and the book highlights the need for more research, there is clear evidence that increasing human capital (immigrants) contributes to greater economic growth per person while most findings show little to no positive or negative net fiscal effects.
Instead of allowing the politics to overwhelm the debate with a lack of fully understanding the economics behind it, I recommend this book to have a better idea before determining your view on what should be done.
I tend to prefer the market-based approach that keeps the rule of law as an essential part of a well-functioning economy and allows prices instead of technocrats an opportunity to efficiently allocate the number of visas for all skill levels. In addition, government assistance should be as limited as possible so that welfare programs will be reduced to only the most needy for native-born and foreign-born individuals, which will diminish any negative fiscal effects from immigration and boost the positive economic growth effects as taxes and fees can remain lower than otherwise.
Over time, we need more people here as baby boomers retire and as the U.S. expands the need for more entrepreneurs. Expanded legal immigration seems to be the way to go, especially after reading the evidence in this book.
Ph.D. Economist at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Blog posts are publications by the author.