Thursday 26 January 2017

Immigrant assimilation

The best argument I'd ever encountered in the US against more open immigration was the democratic critique. If migrants come in and vote for the political institutions that they left behind, then migrants harm both their host country and themselves through their voting behaviour.

The argument always seemed a bit strained. If you just went to tremendous effort to leave a place you didn't like to move to a place you did like, why would you ever vote to make the new place like the old place? But you could have it work through a few different channels. Migration of people who have less understanding of economics would yield worse economic policy as the median voter shifts; migration of people used to strongmen and censorship might soften median voter support for the First Amendment.

In the end it's an empirical question. And now it's an answered one. Here's Cato's Alex Nowrasteh and Sam Wilson.
Immigrants could shift public policy if their opinions differ from those of other Americans.1 Our earlier research found that immigrants and native-born Americans have ideological, political, and public policy opinions that differ to a statistically insignificant extent.2 In this report we further separate immigrant political and policy opinions by citizenship status. Noncitizen immigrants cannot vote but their political opinions are mostly similar to those of natives. However, naturalized citizen-immigrants who can vote have political opinions even closer to those of natives and are near-fully assimilated into the political mainstream.
One difference they do find is that first generation migrants are more likely than natives to identify as independents rather than to identify with either political party. I expect that's a good thing.

Meanwhile, over at the Niskanen Centre, Matthew La Corte argues that it's more important than ever to defend immigrants and refugees, given the Trump Presidency.

The same holds true in New Zealand, where immigrants keep getting blamed for everything. Rising house prices? Blame migrants and ignore the great work by Jacques Poot showing that most effects are due to choices of native-born Kiwis. And simultaneously yell about how bad it is that low skilled people move here (lump of labour fallacy) while also getting mad if wealthy people move here (just look at the reactions to the New Yorker piece about wealthy Americans wanting to have a New Zealand place to live).

The Initiative's report on immigration and New Zealand comes out next week. Watch for it...

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this info... Not enough to change my mind 100%, but as much as one data point can be expected to.