Bryan Caplan  

Counterstereotypical Fact of the Day

PRINT
Partners and Liberty... Rent Sucking...
Hispanic men have markedly higher labor force participation rates than white non-Hispanic and Asian men.


Comments and Sharing





COMMENTS (28 to date)
bjk writes:

Vdare has been documenting this for years. Young Hispanic immigrants are displacing older American workers from the workforce. Good if you're an employer. Not good for all the middle-aged guys I see sitting in the park during the afternoon.

http://www.vdare.com/rubenstein/100305_nd.htm

bjk writes:

Those men sitting in the park are mostly black. If Jesse Jackson and Barack Obama won't stand up for black men, 1/3 of whom aren't in the labor force, then somebody has to.

Jaap writes:

is it really counterstereotypical?
I'd dare say that immigrants to any part of the world go there because they are disappointed with 'the old country'. they have a drive to improve their lives. with this drive comes an entrepreneurial spirit/high work-ethics.
and don't forget that these guys don't expect to have any claim to state-assistance (since they are illegal)

Evan writes:

Disliking Hispanics because they take jobs from blacks is just as racist as those whites in the early twentieth century who complained about blacks taking jobs from whites. Racism in favor of an ethnic minority is just as bad as racism in favor of an ethnic majority.

People shouldn't stand up for black men, people should stand up for all human beings, period. Colorblindness is every human beings' absolute moral duty.

Also does anyone else think it's hilarious that the person that VDare site was named for (Virginia Dare) was the daughter illegal immigrants?

Back to the original topic, this probably makes sense in light of Bryan's earlier posts on personality and success. Since a lot of Hispanic men are immigrants they are probably self-selected to be driven and hard-working, whereas native-born blacks and whites are genetically random, so have a more even distribution of people incapable of holding jobs.

William Barghest writes:

Does this data include illegals? If not (and how could it?) then the actual labor force participation of Hispanic men working in the US must be even larger.

William Barghest writes:

Evan,
VDare is tribal, not universalist, so there is no irony from their perspective.

JPIrving writes:

filter effect?

U.S. gets the most motivated latin americans?

Certainly got all the best Cubans and Argentinians

Troy Camplin writes:

Counterstereotypical? Hispanic men are famously hard workers -- any typically have several jobs. At least, this is known to be true for immigrants and first generation Hispanics. Second and third, etc. generation Hispanics, who get sucked into the welfare mentality, unfortunately have a very different reputation. This is true among Hispanics as well (something about which I know, being married to a Mexican-American woman).

Daniel Kuehn writes:

How is this counter-stereotypical? I always thought this was the stereotype (well, at least the common understanding... seems weird to call high labor force participation a "stereotype").

When nativist types complain about Hispanics, this is precisely what they highlight, too.

John Fast writes:

Evan wrote:

Disliking Hispanics because they take jobs from blacks is just as racist as those whites in the early twentieth century who complained about blacks taking jobs from whites.
And it doesn't even matter. If immigrants come to work, racists will complain about them "stealing our jobs." If not, racists will complain about them trying to get on welfare (despite the fact, as Jaap pointed out, that they can't get welfare because they're illegal).

I'm in favor of deporting a lot of people -- starting with the ones who complain about immigration. I say, send 'em back to wherever *their* ancestors came from!

TJ Hooker writes:

Following the link, I saw employment broken down by age, and then by race and then ethnicity, but I didn't see the data broken down by age and ethnicity at the same time. If the Hispanic vs non-Hispanic white comparison you are making is looking the aggregate across all age ranges, then wouldn't this comparison be skewed by the older non-Hispanic white demographics?

Yancey Ward writes:

I have the same question a few others had- why is this counterstereotypical? Immigrants in the US are accused of taking jobs from citizens.

Chris Koresko writes:

"Hispanic men have markedly higher labor force participation rates than white non-Hispanic and Asian men."

I think this statement is too incomplete to base an interesting conclusion on.

Which Hispanic men are you talking about?

Are you comparing men of the same age, or lumping them all together (I'm guessing that the distribution of ages among the groups you mention may be significantly different, and that there are significant correlations between age and labor force participation).

Are you calling college and grad school non-participation in the labor force? If so, your factoid might reflect differences in the rates of higher education.

And so on...

Apologies if this sounds disparaging. I don't intend it that way.

Moron writes:

Age distros for whites and hispanics are here, slide 6, and yes, they differ quite a lot:

http://www.census.gov/population/socdemo/hispanic/ppl-165/slideshow/02show.ppt

I'd guess that whites almost certainly also retire earlier, because they are likely to make more money per annum for various reasons (for one, they are much more likely to go to college).

Hispanics are 3.7x times likelier than whites to be in jail, according to Sailer. Perhaps those are not accounted for. No doubt this population, if free, would have low labor participation.

A look at the paper linked from Caplan's source shows that yes, being in college or grad school is counted as labor non-participation (p 34). Again, whites are much more likely to go to college, not to mention grad school.

Moron writes:

> VDare is tribal, not universalist, so there is no irony from their perspective.

This is somewhat accurate, but isn't quite the whole story. VDare types aren't universalist enough in their values to be called "universalist." On the other hand they have some universalist feelings rather than truly being flatly tribalist.

For example, would they support a proposal - even under the most euphemized description - of killing everyone in Iraq and repopulating it with white colonists? Uh, no. They would decry it loudly. That kind of thing is sort of what happened in North America (though the great majority of the Amerinds died of infectious diseases whose importation was accidental). But a big, huge aspect of the overrunning of North America, is that it happened a long time ago, so it would be ultra-irredentist to try to undo it now. How did Israel set itself up, by might or right? The answer is might. But they displaced others, which is far, far nicer than slaughtering them, and the whole thing is fait accompli at this point. It happened a pretty long time ago.

Chris Koresko writes:

Oops, I should have noticed the link in the original article. My bad.

Matt Flipago writes:

I'm confused how so many people never heard of the lazy Mexican stereotype. It's a poor stereotype, but it's very common. Go check out the hall of tolerance in South Park.

shecky writes:

The "lazy Mexican" stereotype does seem to be fading rapidly. I don't think I've heard that one in years. My perception is that the prevailing stereotype these days is the opposite: Hispanic workers who will do damn near any job they can get.

Also, interesting point to consider: Hispanic is not synonymous with immigrant.

Stephen Krueger writes:

Evan,

So, stick our heads in the sand and not notice the effects of our policies? The rational thing to do is study how immigration policy effects Americans, including black Americans.

"People shouldn't stand up for black men, people should stand up for all human beings, period."

And how about Americans should stand up for Americans? Let's acknowledge that the USA can't possible right every wrong in the world, and some people will be left out because of it. So the debate is where do we stop?

One thing I find funny is the people that are so upset about American partialism (patriotism), aren't at all concerned that our immigration policy (if it can be called that) is arbitrarily partial to Mexico. If immigration is about affirming our higher universalist nature, shouldn't we be picking from more colors of the rainbow? Apparently not.

A person isn't "stand[ing] up for all human beings" if what they are proposing is shown to directly hurt another group of men. Rarely do we get the fabled win-win-win-win scenario a-la-The Office. Maybe you believe the gains offsets the losses. Fine, argue for that point and let's have a real debate.

Some people might not care what happens to those on the left side of the bell curve since it likely does not effect them, but it is something I want to know before deciding or voting.

"Also does anyone else think it's hilarious that the person that VDare site was named for (Virginia Dare) was the daughter illegal immigrants?"

It depends on your meaning of illegal. Although, my knowledge of Pre-Columbus American-Indian law is lacking.

Anon writes:

[Comment removed for supplying false email address. Email the webmaster@econlib.org to request restoring this comment. A valid email address is required to post comments on EconLog.--Econlib Ed.]

Moron writes:

"Since a lot of Hispanic men are immigrants they are probably self-selected to be driven and hard-working, whereas native-born blacks and whites are genetically random"

It's markedly unlikely that US blacks and whites are genotypic random samples of their populations of origin. US whites are a migrant stock too, unless I am very much mistaken.

Evan writes:

Stephen Krueger, our immigration policy isn't partial towards Mexico because people in power happen to like Mexicans, it's partial to Mexico because the cost of travel between Mexico and the USA is cheap due to their geographical closeness. I'm sure we'd be picking from more colors of the rainbow if there were more countries with borders directly touching the USA, but alas, there are only 2. Injustices are only injustices if they are caused by other humans, not by continental drift.

"And how about Americans should stand up for Americans? Let's acknowledge that the USA can't possible right every wrong in the world, and some people will be left out because of it. So the debate is where do we stop?"

The reason the U.S. can't right every wrong in the world is that it doesn't have the resources. An unlimited immigration or unlimited guest worker policy would actually save resources since we'd no longer be wasting huge amounts of money on border patrols. All we'd have to do to do good is do nothing.

"A person isn't "stand[ing] up for all human beings" if what they are proposing is shown to directly hurt another group of men. "

I call for standing up to give everyone an equal right to try to prove themselves in our economy. As cliched as it is to say it, equal rights doesn't mean equal results. Also, the whole "illegals are harming blacks by taking their jobs" is sort of rooted in the make-work bias. Work is not a scarce resource that needs to be conserved.

Moron, what I meant is that because whites and blacks have been here longer, they are more likely to be random because they have had more time to breed and have previously non-dominant genes come to the front. And while whites may be non-random I don't know about blacks. I thought slave raiders just randomly kidnapped pretty much anyone they could find. The only real selection there I can think of is "able to survive an arduous ocean voyage," which might explain why African Americans have slightly unusual kidneys compared to the rest of the population.

MernaMoose writes:

Evan,

our immigration policy isn't partial towards Mexico because people in power happen to like Mexicans

You should learn more about the Democratic Party. Democrats really like immigrants who vote Democrat. I seem to recall Mexicans having this tendency.

Yes, Mexico is close. But that's not entirely the whole story.


The reason the U.S. can't right every wrong in the world is that it doesn't have the resources.

I assume we'd agree that this is a good thing. :)


I call for standing up to give everyone an equal right to try to prove themselves in our economy.

The right, or the opportunity? I fail to see how this can be made into a "right" by any line of reasoning.

Unless you're an anarchist who doesn't think governments should exist, let alone enforce their own borders? In which case you and I aren't even debating apples to apples.

And are you really sure you mean "everyone"? I've heard anarchists bah-humbug me a thousand times for saying this, but I've been to visit third world countries. "Everyone" is a lotta lot more people than you might imagine.

Fact: there is an upper limit to the number immigrants the US can absorb in a year. For obvious and practical reasons. If I were you I wouldn't assume that you if you opened the door up to "everyone", you won't exceed that limit post haste.

Also, the whole "illegals are harming blacks by taking their jobs" is sort of rooted in the make-work bias. Work is not a scarce resource that needs to be conserved.

Forget the question of whether the jobs in question are for blacks, whites, or whatever. Tell me why it is that economists are the ones who teach that the law of supply and demand is a law -- until we start discussing immigration?

If we took 10 million unskilled Mexicans into the US economy over the next six months (presumably because we've invented some sort of "right" for them to do so, and damn the consequences to those of us already living here), it's going to have an impact on the labor market.


The people who advocate opening the flood gates to any all immigrants are rarely low skilled laborers.

I'm not either anymore, but I grew up that way. I've seen the impact that wave upon wave of Mexican migrants has on the job market.

Somehow those of you who advocate opening the borders wide up, seem utterly incapable of caring about the plight you will put lower class Americans in by doing so.

There is NO avoiding the fact that you are impacting a very real segment of a the US population. Unless you're now prepared to argue that the law of supply and demand is no longer a law?

I know it's a law. I've lived through the consequences of this law.

jlpsquared writes:

EVAN Said "Moron, what I meant is that because whites and blacks have been here longer, they are more likely to be random because they have had more time to breed and have previously non-dominant genes come to the front. And while whites may be non-random I don't know about blacks. I thought slave raiders just randomly kidnapped pretty much anyone they could find. The only real selection there I can think of is "able to survive an arduous ocean voyage," which might explain why African Americans have slightly unusual kidneys compared to the rest of the population."

The Slave raiders did not "randomly kidnapped pretty much everyone they could find." They bought stock of men and women in which they assumed had good abilities at taking orders and the hardiness to survive the N. American climate. That worked fine for the time period, but I think it is fairly obvious it did not work so well for a subgroup that inhabit all modern major US cities and have now been surpassed in every possible way by hispanic immigrants. But that being said the same argument could be made that long term importing a class of 3rd world laborers may not translate into a modern technical computer driven economy. Maybe it can, but is it worth a risk?

Stephen Krueger writes:

Evan,

It is arbitrary because it is not based on any system or principle. If I award a job for a physical training position to the person closest to me, and that person happens to be overweight and out-of-shape, awarding the out-of-shape guy the job because he was closest is unfair to the person who was in the best shape.

The US erected a higher cost for everyone else to come here legally. Trying to get to the US legally is the worst decision any low skilled or low wealth immigrant from Central/South America can make.

Mexico has erected a higher cost for everyone else to get into the US illegally which is why it is partial to Mexico. Anyone from a country south of Mexico has to cross through the Mexican system. This has nothing to do with Mexico having a cheap system of travel, or because a one way flight to the US is way too expensive, it's because South Americans can't illegally fly here. There are no other options than to come illegally through Mexico. We are deferring to Mexico's often corrupt system, rather than setting up a legal way for everyone else to get here. Remember that Mexican nationals sending money back to Mexico is either their #1 or #2 industry, so they have a huge interest in only allowing Mexicans to get into the US illegally. All this has nothing to do with being close, it has everything to do with humans in the US/Mexican governments creating this mess.

The point of immigration is getting good future citizens, not getting a cheap under-class of servants, gardeners, or Democrat voters.

I want a legal and more simple way for people to get here, but be able to cross off criminals, people with disease, and have a preference for higher IQ or someone with needed skills. The only right here is the right of the US government to choose who to allow to live in America.

Also, I thought illegal aliens weren't costing the US taxpayer much money because they were illegal, and couldn't get welfare, wouldn't making them legal cost the taxpayer a lot more money?

MernaMoose already covered how illegal immigrants are costing low skilled people, so I won't bother.

Evan writes:

"Forget the question of whether the jobs in question are for blacks, whites, or whatever. Tell me why it is that economists are the ones who teach that the law of supply and demand is a law -- until we start discussing immigration?"

You're forgetting about the important complement to the law of supply and demand, Say's Law. It basically goes like this: When demand of a commodity stays the same, but supply increases, prices of the commodity (labor in this case) go down (the law of supply and demand). Because the price is suddenly lower people who never even considered using that commodity before use it, so the demand goes up (Say's law). This eventually returns the price to normal. Sometimes minimum wage laws and other such things screw this process up, but generally it works.

This is how the country was industrialized. Farm machines displaced farm workers by increasing the supply of labor. The law of supply and demand made the price of labor go down because humans now had to compete with machines. Since the price of labor was down, industrialists could now afford to hire new workers, so factories grew and the country was industrialized, thanks to Say's Law.

Tell me, if you lived back then, would you have opposed mechanized farming? Because replacing human labor with mechanical labor is not really any different from replacing it with the labor of a different group of humans. It was hard for those farmers to lose their jobs to the McCormack Reaper and those other machines, but their quality of life generally improved in the long run, and the quality of life of the descendants definitely has.

I see bringing in large amounts of new laborers as identical to inventing a new labor-saving machine. In both cases the process will increase the amount of labor available, allowing us to do new things with it that we previously couldn't imagine. I'm incredibly excited to see what new industries we'll create.

"Unless you're an anarchist who doesn't think governments should exist, let alone enforce their own borders? In which case you and I aren't even debating apples to apples."

I think governments should exist, but I don't think they should enforce their own borders. This is because I agree with Arnold Kling that "exit is more important than voice." People should be able to travel from country to country as easily as they can travel from state to state today. That way governments with bad policies will be left with no citizens, while governments with good ones will have a huge tax base.

"The right, or the opportunity? I fail to see how this can be made into a "right" by any line of reasoning."

Rights aren't "made." They're something you're born with. I suppose "right to participate in the economy" sounded too much like a positive right (which I agree are stupid) and that's where the confusion arose. What I meant to say is that everyone has a right to not be stopped by other people's use of force from trying to participate in the economy.

Stephen Krueger, I have one question for you. You probably already know this, but back in the 1930s during the Dust Bowl, a large amount of people from farms in Oklahoma and other devastated places tried to find jobs in California, where they were rather badly treated because the locals feared they'd take their jobs. Would you have supported the way the Californians treated the Ohkies if you'd lived in California back then, or opposed it? Would you have helped them try to stop native Californian workers from being displaced by the law of supply of demand, or is it okay if the people doing the displacing are from the same country?

"The Slave raiders did not "randomly kidnapped pretty much everyone they could find." They bought stock of men and women in which they assumed had good abilities at taking orders and the hardiness to survive the N. American climate."

Yes, I admit that slave raiding was probably less random than I initially thought.

Stephen Krueger writes:

Evan,

I've never heard of it, but I would have opposed it. Individual states have no right to discriminate against another state's residents in that way.

A country does have the right to discriminate against a non-citizen, however.

MernaMoose writes:

Evan,

You're forgetting about the important complement to the law of supply and demand, Say's Law.

I admit I'm not an economist and had not heard of this (my undergrad economics class was an utter waste of time). Will give it some thought -- and thanks, I learned something new.


I think governments should exist, but I don't think they should enforce their own borders.

I've heard this theory before, but I somehow don't see it working in practice. All the reasons why would make for a long story but here's a couple.

For one thing, national security secrets do in fact exist. Protecting them has already been a problem, just with the level of open people movement we have now. Making people movement even easier would make that problem even worse. This is not a trivial issue, unless you think governments shouldn't be able to defend their borders, which I don't think you're arguing. ?

For another, you may be right that dumping big loads of suddenly unemployed farmers on the job market isn't a bad thing for the economy in the long run. But it's a real problem for those unemployed farmers at the moment their families are starving.

Today I'm in the "white collar professional" class. If I got laid off it'd be bad news, but I wouldn't be starving anytime soon. When I was growing up, that was not at all the case. I find it hard to justify putting those poor people we've already got, through this kind of misery, in the name of "helping the US economy in the long run".

I argue still, those Mexican laborers do not in any sense have the "right" to bring such times upon the laborers who are already here. Though if it happened due to technological innovation I'd put it more in the category of "acts of God" for lack of a better term. But this is quite different from us as a nation, consciously deciding to suddenly allow a big wave of unskilled immigrants into the country.


Letting a big wave of unskilled Mexicans into the country at the same time technology was already displacing our existing unskilled labor base, would be a bad idea. There's already major risk of social unrest, which has in past brought us some of our worst legislation. Immigrant waves would only add to it.

Common sense still tells me: at any given moment there is some real upper bound on how many immigrants a nation can absorb, a) in any given segment of its economy and b) in an overall sense.

For one thing, our infrastructure (roads etc) are of a fixed size at any given moment.

And socially all those immigrants need to be absorbed and "socialized", if you will. They need to learn how we do business here. There's got to be some limit as to how much you can dilute the American population base with immigrants, before you shift it's basic social structure fundamentally. I'm talking about destruction of that nebulous thing I've heard called "social capital" (sorry but I fail to see how Mexicans have much good to offer in this category, have seen how their culture works).

Practically speaking, I don't see how a nation can not put some kind of control the influx of immigrants.


Now, given all that -- I'm open to the prospect that we've been choking off the flow more than we really needed to, much of the time. But this is quite different from saying we shouldn't impose any control at all over the flow.

Comments for this entry have been closed
Return to top