Immigration Costs and Benefits: An Overview


(ESPAÑOL) Immigration costs and benefits are subjects constantly in review, while also fueling both sides of the current political debate. A study has come out this week examining the wealth of data swearing on one side or another, with the results being…inconclusive.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released a roughly 500-page report that pooled data from more than a dozen individual economists, professors and immigration-minded specialists. It says America’s immigrant population climbed by more than 70 percent between 1995 and 2014, when it stood at 42.3 million, accounting for roughly 13 percent of America’s total population.

The study’s findings ultimately suggest immigration is neither 100 percent beneficial nor completely detrimental to the country’s economic and financial well-being.

Yet other studies conflict with these findings. The New York Times on Wednesday published an article titled “Immigrants Aren’t Taking Americans’ Jobs, New Study Finds.” The study found there were “many important benefits of immigration – including on economic growth, innovation and entrepreneurship – with little to no negative effects on the overall wages or employment of native-born workers in the long term.” The study also found that skilled immigration is ultimately a net positive for the U.S., as it helps spur technological innovation and broader productivity gains.

On the other hand, The Washington Times delivered its own take on the study in a post titled “Mass Immigration Costs Government $296 Billion a Year, Depresses Wages,” where researchers found that immigrants may suck up between $43 billion and nearly $300 billion more in government benefits and support than they pay in taxes based on 2012 dollar calculations, though the latter estimate is an absolute worst-case scenario.

Researchers also found evidence that the arrival of new immigrant workers puts pressure on the employment status of older immigrants who have already come to the U.S. And, interestingly, new immigrants’ wages over the last few years have been much slower to climb to what others in the country make.

“To the extent that negative impacts occur, they are most likely to be found for prior immigrants or native-born workers who have not completed high school,” the group found, according to the release. But, it noted, “immigration has an overall positive impact on long-run economic growth in the U.S.”