How Immigrants Effect the Economic of the United States Term Paper

  • Length: 5 pages
  • Subject: Race
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Immigrants Affect the Economy of the United States

Whereas in the 19th century, the United States relied on immigration policies that reflected an imminent need for inexpensive labor, in 1920 the Harding administration severely restricted immigration in a way that penalized Southern and Eastern European immigrants. This lead to a humanitarian crisis when ships with Jewish refugees from Europe in the late 1930's were turned away from American ports. In the mid-1960's, policies changed again in the mid-1960's, when looser immigration controls lead to an influx of Latin American and Asian immigrants.

White immigrants in the past from Europe had readily integrated with American culture. This owed less to a common cultural heritage than to a lack of immigrants in any given area to develop the critical mass necessary to retain a language other than English. Whereas several large cities such as New York and San Francisco retain Chinese or Russian speaking populations, the ease with which Spanish immigrants can find and converse with other Spanish-speakers has created a class rift between Hispanic and white communities, as Hispanic communities continue to remain socially separate while Korean, Indian, Russian, and Chinese immigrants have experienced a pattern of convergence with the American population. If this is the case, Hispanics should be seen as a drain on public assistance programs and the migration of traditionally well-performing immigrants, such as Indians, Russians, Arabs, and Ukrainians, should be encouraged. In that the seasonal migration of workers is to be encouraged for low-skilled workers, perhaps a 'guest worker' program such as those found in European countries such as Germany is in order. My thesis is that Spanish-speaking populations have experienced a pattern of non-convergence, whereas speakers of other languages converge with American society, as did Germans, Poles, Italians, Koreans, Russians and Chinese.

Demographic data about Hispanics is amply available from the United States Census department. Such data includes population, education and income data, as well as statistics on whether or not English is spoken at home, date of entry into the United States, vehicle ownership, occupation, and other things. Testing for convergence is deceptively simple: if a community is populated with newer immigrants, it is impossible to say whether or not they are moving towards convergence; before racial barriers were discarded, many Asians lived in Asian communities in the United States for several decades, where they retained a language and a culture. A first step might be to regress the Hispanic makeup of lower-income housing against that of other recent immigrant populations in areas where other sizable ethnic communities exist. However, the study would have to be limited to Hispanics who have come to the United States from abroad, ruling out those that come from Puerto Rico as this retains a Spanish culture yet is in the United States.

The main task in isolating Hispanic immigrants for comparison will be to distinguish the effects of migrants' years since migration from the effects of aging, time, and personal differences between immigrants. Key to determining this will be a regression between immigrant populations and between the Hispanic immigrant and total population. This study will need to be adjusted for seasonal migration, because many argue that seasonal migrant have lower U.S. earnings than other immigrants. As one study puts it, "those who stay in the U.S. longer are positively self-selected relative to their arrival cohorts."

However, if these migrants are skewed in the other direction, it could be argued that the results are positively skewed. For instance, immigrants who are successful may wish to return to their home countries where the cost of living is lower. This could lead to an underestimation of incomes, etc. when reading census data.

Although factors such as whether or not Hispanics live in their own communities or blend into existing ones are important, most look to income as a primary indicator of whether or not migrants have assimilated successfully. People who earn an average or higher-than-average income are a benefit to society. Because much migrant work is seasonal, it is as important to look at hourly wages, as it is to look at monthly or annual salaries. Often Hispanics are attracted to seasonal jobs and systematically collect unemployment during the off-season.

One method of studying populations involves studying cohorts; predefined like-generational groups of people. One way to measure the progress of groups is to follow the economic progress of a cohort over time. If one plots the progress of several Hispanic immigrant age cohorts who entered the U.S. At a specific time and several non-Hispanic immigrant age cohorts, one may evaluate the extent to which both groups converge. If we use a binomial regression measuring the economic performance of both groups at two-year intervals over the course of ten or twenty years, we can develop an r-statistic that shows us whether or not the incomes of sample populations have increased at similar rates; if they have, the slope at which the Hispanic incomes increases will have an r-statistic that is closer to 1. An r-squared statistic would not be appropriate in this case, as there is only a very small of either population dropping in income level while the other group's income level rises after the year of entry into the United States, although income levels could rise and fall with economic cycles.

Using a cohort of Hispanic immigrants from the same age group that migrated 20 years ago and one of the general U.S. population, we can solve for whether or not the distribution of these groups is significantly different using a t-statistic and a 5% margin of error.

For instance, if the null hypothesis, H (0) is that a randomly selected group of Spanish immigrants is normally distributed about a mean, we can test whether or not the sample mean is significantly different from that of the United States Population. We find the sample standard deviation and use the equation:

where the numerator is the difference between the average income of the sample and that of the general population, and the denominator is the standard error; where'd is the standard deviation of the sample and n is the size of the sample. One can compare this to levels of significance for the t-statistic at the 5% and 1% significance levels.

It is important to take other factors into consideration, such as educational attainment at the time of immigration. Even these statistics can be deceptive; the American Medical Association, for instance, does not recognize medical doctors from the former Soviet Union and other places, as these are not considered accredited universities.

Before conducting this study, it is first essential to review other studies available that measure the performance of Hispanic immigrants. Among these, several measure the performance of Hispanic immigrants compared to native-born Hispanics. In Immigration and the Hispanic Middle Class, William A.V. Clark compares the rate of assimilation between immigrant and non-immigrant cohorts (Clark, 2001). A study conducted in southern California suggests that there exists a growing Latino middle class, and that foreign-born Hispanics will also succeed and integrate (Rodriguez, 1996). The same author conducted a nationwide study several years later, which suggests an overall pattern of convergence as migrants embrace the cultural norms of the United States (Rodriguez, 1999). Another report contradicts these claims, and maintains that Hispanics earn significantly less than other ethnicities in California and attributes lower earnings levels to lower educational attainment. (Lopez, Ramirez, and Rochin, 1999). This report finds that only about 10% of third generation Latinos have university degrees. The school dropout rate for students who did not speak English well was over 35% for Spanish-speaking students aged 16 through 24 in 1991 (NCES, 1993). According to another NCES study, the dropout rate for non-English speaking students in 1992 was over 83% (NCES, 1994). The same study found that only ten percent of recent immigrants enrolled in college in 1989 and that Spanish speakers were half as likely to enroll in college as other immigrants (NCES, 1994).

Other possibilities for the report may include using samples from different states or ones that are specific to different demographics. One of the biggest decisions would be whether or not to use Census data; some reports do while others don't. Census data is considered an acceptable factual basis for studies and is easily found online. The size of census tracts is very small, allowing one to compare very specific targeted groups of people. Whereas immigration in the past was managed capriciously and according to populist demands, which are sometimes very anti-immigration, the use of studies allows legislators to have a more well-informed approach to policymaking.

Clark, W.A.V. 1998. "Mass migration and local outcomes: Is international migration to the United States creating a new urban underclass?" Urban Studies 35, 371-383.

Clark, W.A.V. 1998. The California Cauldron: Immigration and the Fortunes of Local Communities. New York: Guilford.

Rodriguez, G. 1996. The Emerging Latino Middle Class. Los Angeles, Cal. Pepperdine University Institute for Public Policy

Rodriguez, G. 1999. From Newcomers to New Americans. Washington, D.C. The National Immigration Forum.…

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