High versus low skill

Some people, particularly those concerned about the harms to immigrant-receiving countries, voice support for expanded immigration opportunities for high-skilled workers, while reducing the extent of low-skilled immigration (including illegal immigration, family reunification, chain migration, anchor babies).

For instance, in his book on immigration, Julian Simon, generally bullish about immigration, concedes that, from a national perspective, immigration policy should be determined by the economic characteristics of immigrants rather than other factors.

In an article titled Canada Doesn’t Want Me, Steve Sailer, who is more of an immigration restrictionist, argues that Canada, with a focus on the skill level and other characteristics of immigrants, arguably has a better immigration policy than the United States.

Heather Mac Donald expresses a similar opinion in this an article for City Journal titled California’s Demographic Revolution: If the upward mobility of the impending Hispanic majority doesn’t improve, the state’s economic future is in peril. She has also elaborated on this theme in a book co-authored with Steve Malanga and Victor Davis Hanson titled The Immigration Solution: A Better Plan Than Today’s.

Others, who are more concerned about the harms to immigrant-sending countries, worry more about high-skilled immigration on account of brain drain and delay of political reform. There are also people, such as Mark Krikorian at the Center for Immigration Studies, who have argued that high-skilled immigration to the United States must also be curtailed, albeit for reasons that differ from the reasons to curtail low-skilled immigrants.

Some counter-arguments

  • In Looking High and Low for Sources of Economic Growth: Donald Boudreaux argues against the idea of trying to make a distinction between high-skilled and low-skilled immigration. Further, he points out that there are ways in which low-skilled immigrants are less costly than high-skilled immigrants.
  • In Immigration, Skill, Efficiency, and Quotas: A Conflict of Economic Intuitions: Bryan Caplan argues that if the total number of immigrants is kept constant, then it makes sense to admit highly skilled immigrants, because skilled immigrants have the maximum numerical gain from immigration. On the other hand, low skilled immigrants have larger proportional gains from immigration, so if total human capital is held constant, it makes more sense to admit low-skilled immigrants.

Indirectly related

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