Arnold Kling  

Greg Mankiw has a Blog

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Accreditation of Colleges... Still More on Immigration...

He writes,


This blog is an experiment, primarily aimed at interacting with students in Ec 10, the large introductory economics class that I teach at Harvard. Other students and teachers using my textbooks may find it of interest as well. Its main role will be to direct students to interesting articles with the goal of enhancing their study of economics. I had previously been doing this for my students via email, but I thought that a blog would be more convenient for them, and it would allow others to access it as well.

In a recent post, Mankiw writes,

As an economist, I am skeptical of the government prohibiting trades between consenting adults, and that is in essence what immigration restrictions do. This is why economists, as a group, tend to be pro-immigration.

I think a while back I said something to the effect of economists being pro-immigration, and at least one commenter questioned why (I think the commenter was wondering why economists would express an opinion, rather than just remain neutral). In any case, I have some support from an icon within the profession.

In the early days (for me) of the Internet, I remember Christopher Locke saying, possibly quoting Hunter Thompson, that "when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." Now, with the author of a leading economics text embracing blogging, we have the pros turning weird, so to speak.

In all seriousness, it's a great blog, and I hope he keeps it up.


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CATEGORIES: Economic Education



COMMENTS (4 to date)
Kent Gatewood writes:

1)How does favoring immigration interact with American affirmative action rules? Many illegals would qualify for preferences.
2)Would you favor unlimited immigration to Israel? Eight million Iranian as an example? An act of suicide in my opinion.
3)Low income workers pay no taxes save for FICA, so how could they possible pay for a pro rata share of government service, Defense Dept. for example.

Thank you, Kent Gatewood

Jody writes:
3)Low income workers pay no taxes save for FICA, so how could they possible pay for a pro rata share of government service, Defense Dept. for example.

National Defense is a particularly bad example as the cost of national defense doesn't increase with population. If additional people added additional territory to defend, then that would be a concern.

Where your scenario would and does have an impact is for wealth transfer programs where adding more recipients without adding more payers is problematic. It's also problematic for public goods whose individual benefit declines with the number of users, such as roads (more drivers without more funding = congestion).

So there are many examples where importing sheer Brawn (to use Bryan's misnomer for lower skilled and more importantly lower IQ (which translates as lower capacity to learn new skills)) can damage national well-being as Kent suggests. It's just that national defense isn't the right example to use.

To give an in-the-news counter-example to the all immigration is good camp, consider the plight of Houston post-Katrina.

knzn writes:

I think Greg Mankiw’s blog will get a lot more attention than he intended. In addition to his being “an icon within the profession,” he fills a shortage of conservative Keynesians within the blogosphere.

Dezakin writes:

"How does favoring immigration interact with American affirmative action rules? Many illegals would qualify for preferences."

I'm sorry, is this an argument about affirmative action or immigration? Certainly immigrants would qualify for equal protection and thats fine with me, but wading into such nonsense as 'racial preferences' in affirmative action weather they exist or are just rhetorical bait is decidedly beside the point on if immigration in itself is a noble or sound thing to pursue.

And its the classic canard; That also applies to 'immigrants feeding at the trough of the welfare state' as well.

"Would you favor unlimited immigration to Israel? Eight million Iranian as an example? An act of suicide in my opinion."

Given Israel's mission objective is decidedly anti-liberal as a state that must have a particular ethno-religeous characteristic, it hardly bears discussing, unless you feel for some reason the US should be designated the 'Homeland for White People'

"Low income workers pay no taxes save for FICA, so how could they possible pay for a pro rata share of government service, Defense Dept. for example."

In addition to the previous arguments on why Defence is a bad example, immigrants increase the size of the overall economy and the tax base as a whole even if they don't pay taxes themselves, so revenue will still increase.

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