Penn Wharton Public Policy Initiative

Publication Date

5-2016

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Volume

4

Number

4

Document Type

Brief

Summary

While the public debate on immigration reform has been divisive, the tools of economics provide clear lessons for a way forward. The single most important lesson that economics holds for immigration policymakers is that immigration restrictions are costly, because they interfere with the free movement of labor. Most economists believe that the gains to global GDP from greater labor mobility are very large. Beyond the estimated gains to the world economy, the consensus among economists is that, as a whole, U.S. natives gain from immigration in the labor market. While immigration may have an adverse effect on some native wages and employment—particularly for the least skilled workers—the empirical evidence indicates these effects, if existent, are small.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

Keywords

immigration, labor, mobility, women, wages, distribution of income, global, GDP

Walls or Welcome Mats? Immigration and the Labor Market

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