Tuesday, December 10, 2013 10:15am

Low-Skilled Immigrants

Question A: The average US citizen would be better off if a larger number of low-skilled foreign workers were legally allowed to enter the US each year.

Responses
 

Source: IGM Economic Experts Panel
www.igmchicago.org/igm-economic-experts-panel

Responses weighted by each expert's confidence

Source: IGM Economic Experts Panel
www.igmchicago.org/igm-economic-experts-panel

Question B: Unless they were compensated by others, many low-skilled American workers would be substantially worse off if a larger number of low-skilled foreign workers were legally allowed to enter the US each year.

Responses
 

Source: IGM Economic Experts Panel
www.igmchicago.org/igm-economic-experts-panel

Responses weighted by each expert's confidence

Source: IGM Economic Experts Panel
www.igmchicago.org/igm-economic-experts-panel

Question A Participant Responses

Participant University Vote Confidence Comment Bio/Vote History
Acemoglu Daron Acemoglu MIT Agree 8
Bio/Vote History
         
Alesina Alberto Alesina Harvard Disagree 6
Bio/Vote History
         
Altonji Joseph Altonji Yale Disagree 7
Real income of avg the American would rise, but social strains and inequality would also increase.
Bio/Vote History
         
Auerbach Alan Auerbach Berkeley Uncertain 3
Bio/Vote History
         
Autor David Autor MIT Agree 8
Bio/Vote History
         
Baicker Katherine Baicker Harvard Agree 4
Bio/Vote History
         
Banerjee Abhijit Banerjee MIT Agree 5
The median US worker (which is how I interpret the word average) is high skill by global standards
Bio/Vote History
         
Bertrand Marianne Bertrand Chicago Uncertain 4
Bio/Vote History
         
Brunnermeier Markus Brunnermeier Princeton Uncertain 6
It depends on whether one takes a long or short-term horizon.
Bio/Vote History
         
Chetty Raj Chetty Harvard Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Chevalier Judith Chevalier Yale Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Currie Janet Currie Princeton Agree 8
Bio/Vote History
         
Cutler David Cutler Harvard Agree 5
Bio/Vote History
         
Deaton Angus Deaton Princeton Disagree 7
I think it matters a lot whether or not they are granted citizenship which we are not told.
Bio/Vote History
         
Duffie Darrell Duffie Stanford Agree 4
Labor is a valuable factor input. My answer presumes that many of these new workers would be employed. But I'm not confident of that.
Bio/Vote History
         
Edlin Aaron Edlin Berkeley Agree 6
This would drive down the cost of a variety of services.
Bio/Vote History
         
Eichengreen Barry Eichengreen Berkeley Uncertain 1
"Average US citizen?" What does this mean. Unskilled natives likely to be worse off, skilled native better off. Who's average?
Bio/Vote History
         
Einav Liran Einav Stanford Agree 6
Bio/Vote History
         
Fair Ray Fair Yale Agree 5
Bio/Vote History
         
Finkelstein Amy Finkelstein MIT Agree 5
Bio/Vote History
         
Goldberg Pinelopi Goldberg Yale Uncertain 6
Bio/Vote History
         
Goolsbee Austan Goolsbee Chicago Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Greenstone Michael Greenstone Chicago Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Hall Robert Hall Stanford Uncertain 5
If only workers are admitted, we come out ahead because of tax revenue. But it's not so obvious if they bring their families and relatives.
Bio/Vote History
         
Hart Oliver Hart Harvard Agree 8
On average citizens would be better off--by classical gains from trade . A countervailing effect : welfare payments to unemployed immigrants
Bio/Vote History
         
Holmström Bengt Holmström MIT Agree 5
Bio/Vote History
         
Hoxby Caroline Hoxby Stanford Uncertain 10
I am sure that I am uncertain. A certain answer would require a knowledge of general eqm effects on which we've only a partial grasp.
Bio/Vote History
         
Hoynes Hilary Hoynes Berkeley Agree 10
Bio/Vote History
         
Judd Kenneth Judd Stanford Uncertain 8
Free trade is as good as migration for traded goods. The impact on nongraded goods is unclear, as are the burdens on social programs.
Bio/Vote History
         
Kaplan Steven Kaplan Chicago Agree 6
Bio/Vote History
         
Kashyap Anil Kashyap Chicago Agree 5
Bio/Vote History
         
Klenow Pete Klenow Stanford Uncertain 5
But the gains to immigrants would be large.
-see background information here
Bio/Vote History
         
Levin Jonathan Levin Stanford Uncertain 4
Card's Ely lecture argues wage effects are small. Pro-immigration arguments partly about welfare of immigrants, rather than residents.
-see background information here
Bio/Vote History
         
Maskin Eric Maskin Harvard Agree 7
Bio/Vote History
         
Nordhaus William Nordhaus Yale Disagree 3
This response is based on the idea that it will increase inequality, which is already too great.
Bio/Vote History
         
Obstfeld Maurice Obstfeld Berkeley Agree 8
Bio/Vote History
         
Saez Emmanuel Saez Berkeley Agree 3
Bio/Vote History
         
Samuelson Larry Samuelson Yale Uncertain 1
There will be gains and losses of various types to various people; it is difficult to reduce these to a net effect on an average citizen.
Bio/Vote History
         
Scheinkman José Scheinkman Princeton Uncertain 7
Bio/Vote History
         
Schmalensee Richard Schmalensee MIT Uncertain 3
Very unclear how to think about the "average" citizen when there would likely be winners and losers.
Bio/Vote History
         
Shapiro Carl Shapiro Berkeley Agree 6
Substituting legal immigration for illegal immigration would enhance efficiency and equity.
Bio/Vote History
         
Shimer Robert Shimer Chicago Agree 5
For low skill workers, the main adverse effects are through wages. For high skill, through fiscal costs. Both costs could be small
Bio/Vote History
         
Shin Hyun Song Shin Princeton Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Stokey Nancy Stokey Chicago Agree 8
Bio/Vote History
         
Thaler Richard Thaler Chicago Agree 3
Bio/Vote History
         
Udry Christopher Udry Yale Strongly Agree 4
The evidence is that complementarities would make most Americans better off. The data is not decisive, though.
Bio/Vote History
         

Question B Participant Responses

Participant University Vote Confidence Comment Bio/Vote History
Acemoglu Daron Acemoglu MIT Uncertain 6
Bio/Vote History
         
Alesina Alberto Alesina Harvard Agree 4
Bio/Vote History
         
Altonji Joseph Altonji Yale Disagree 7
I agree that the effect would be negative, but believe that it would be modest, not substantial.
Bio/Vote History
         
Auerbach Alan Auerbach Berkeley Agree 5
Bio/Vote History
         
Autor David Autor MIT Strongly Disagree 8
Bio/Vote History
         
Baicker Katherine Baicker Harvard Agree 4
Bio/Vote History
         
Banerjee Abhijit Banerjee MIT Uncertain 5
It all turns on what fraction of low skilled US workers don't have an option that they clearly prefer to these mostly dead end low paid jobs
Bio/Vote History
         
Bertrand Marianne Bertrand Chicago Uncertain 4
Bio/Vote History
         
Brunnermeier Markus Brunnermeier Princeton Agree 8
Bio/Vote History
         
Chetty Raj Chetty Harvard Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Chevalier Judith Chevalier Yale Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Currie Janet Currie Princeton Agree 7
Bio/Vote History
         
Cutler David Cutler Harvard Strongly Agree 7
Bio/Vote History
         
Deaton Angus Deaton Princeton Agree 7
Bio/Vote History
         
Duffie Darrell Duffie Stanford Agree 1
A higher number of workers of the same type seeking jobs would lower their average wages or employment rate, other things equal.
Bio/Vote History
         
Edlin Aaron Edlin Berkeley Agree 7
Those who compete with low skill immigrants will be hurt by extra competition.
Bio/Vote History
         
Eichengreen Barry Eichengreen Berkeley Agree 5
Bio/Vote History
         
Einav Liran Einav Stanford Strongly Agree 8
Bio/Vote History
         
Fair Ray Fair Yale Agree 5
"substantially" is probably too strong.
Bio/Vote History
         
Finkelstein Amy Finkelstein MIT Uncertain 5
Bio/Vote History
         
Goldberg Pinelopi Goldberg Yale Agree 6
Bio/Vote History
         
Goolsbee Austan Goolsbee Chicago Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Greenstone Michael Greenstone Chicago Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Hall Robert Hall Stanford Uncertain 4
My understanding is that the Mariel question is still up in the air in terms of serious research.
Bio/Vote History
         
Hart Oliver Hart Harvard Agree 8
There can be winners and losers. Similarly skilled workers will face greater competition for jobs and their wages may fall.
Bio/Vote History
         
Holmström Bengt Holmström MIT Agree 4
Bio/Vote History
         
Hoxby Caroline Hoxby Stanford Uncertain 10
Low-skilled workers would probably be worse off but positive gen eqm effects might offset negative direct effects.
Bio/Vote History
         
Hoynes Hilary Hoynes Berkeley Agree 10
Bio/Vote History
         
Judd Kenneth Judd Stanford Agree 8
It is hard to see how they would benefit, and they would lose from the competition in the labor market.
Bio/Vote History
         
Kaplan Steven Kaplan Chicago Uncertain 6
Bio/Vote History
         
Kashyap Anil Kashyap Chicago Uncertain 3
I believe the evidence show that some low-skilled natives suffer, but whether many suffer substantially not clear given what I know on this
Bio/Vote History
         
Klenow Pete Klenow Stanford Disagree 5 Bio/Vote History
         
Levin Jonathan Levin Stanford Uncertain 1
Again, Card's work suggests this is not obvious, although one might expect increased labor market competition.
Bio/Vote History
         
Maskin Eric Maskin Harvard Agree 7
Bio/Vote History
         
Nordhaus William Nordhaus Yale Agree 5
"Substantially" is a vague term, but on the whole it would probably lower incomes at the bottom.
Bio/Vote History
         
Obstfeld Maurice Obstfeld Berkeley Uncertain 7
Bio/Vote History
         
Saez Emmanuel Saez Berkeley Uncertain 4
Bio/Vote History
         
Samuelson Larry Samuelson Yale Agree 6
These are the most likely candidates for people who will be adversely affected.
Bio/Vote History
         
Scheinkman José Scheinkman Princeton Agree 8
Bio/Vote History
         
Schmalensee Richard Schmalensee MIT Agree 3
Bio/Vote History
         
Shapiro Carl Shapiro Berkeley Disagree 6
Substituting legal for illegal immigration could provide benefits to low-skilled workers generally, for both economic and political reasons.
Bio/Vote History
         
Shimer Robert Shimer Chicago Uncertain 5
Evidence that immigration pushes down low skill wages is mixed
Bio/Vote History
         
Shin Hyun Song Shin Princeton Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Stokey Nancy Stokey Chicago Agree 8
Bio/Vote History
         
Thaler Richard Thaler Chicago Uncertain 1
No way to answer this without knowing the definition of "many" and "substantially" plus some facts.
Bio/Vote History
         
Udry Christopher Udry Yale Uncertain 7
The "many" is the problem: some would certainly be hurt (unless compensated). But "many"?
Bio/Vote History
         

10 New Economic Experts join the IGM Panel


For the past two years, our expert panelists have been informing the public about the extent to which economists agree or disagree on important public policy issues. This week, we are delighted to announce that we are expanding the IGM Economic Experts Panel to add ten new distinguished economists. Like our other experts, these new panelists have impeccable qualifications to speak on public policy matters, and their names will be familiar to other economists and the media.

To give the public a broad sense of their views on policy issues, each new expert has responded to a selection of 16 statements that our panel had previously addressed. We chose these 16 statements, which cover a wide range of important policy areas, because the original panelists' responses to them were analyzed in a paper comparing the views of our economic experts with those of the American public. You can find that paper, by Paola Sapienza and Luigi Zingales, here. The paper, along with other analyses of the experts' views, was discussed during the American Economic Association annual meetings, and the video can be found here.

The new panelists' responses to these statements can be seen on their individual voting history pages. Our ten new economic experts are:

Abhijit Banerjee (MIT)
Markus K. Brunnermeier (Princeton)
Liran Einav (Stanford)
Amy Finkelstein (MIT)
Oliver Hart (Harvard)
Hilary Hoynes (Berkeley)
Steven N. Kaplan (Chicago)
Larry Samuelson (Yale)
Carl Shapiro (Berkeley)
Robert Shimer (Chicago)


Please note that, for the 16 previous topics on which these new panelists have voted, we left the charts showing the distribution of responses unchanged. Those charts reflect the responses that our original panelists gave at the time, and we have not altered them to reflect the views of the new experts.

We have also taken this opportunity to ask our original panelists whether they would vote differently on any of the statements we have asked about in the past. Several experts chose to highlight statements to which they would currently respond differently. In such cases, you will see this "revote" below the panelist's original vote. We think you will enjoy seeing examples of statements on which some experts have reconsidered.

As with the 16 previous statements voted on by new panelists, these "revote" responses are not reflected in the chart that we display showing the distribution of views for that topic: all the charts for previous questions reflect the distribution of views that the experts expressed when the statement was originally posed.

About the IGM Economic Experts Panel

This panel explores the extent to which economists agree or disagree on major public policy issues. To assess such beliefs we assembled this panel of expert economists. Statistics teaches that a sample of (say) 40 opinions will be adequate to reflect a broader population if the sample is representative of that population.

To that end, our panel was chosen to include distinguished experts with a keen interest in public policy from the major areas of economics, to be geographically diverse, and to include Democrats, Republicans and Independents as well as older and younger scholars. The panel members are all senior faculty at the most elite research universities in the United States. The panel includes Nobel Laureates, John Bates Clark Medalists, fellows of the Econometric society, past Presidents of both the American Economics Association and American Finance Association, past Democratic and Republican members of the President's Council of Economics, and past and current editors of the leading journals in the profession. This selection process has the advantage of not only providing a set of panelists whose names will be familiar to other economists and the media, but also delivers a group with impeccable qualifications to speak on public policy matters.

Finally, it is important to explain one aspect of our voting process. In some instances a panelist may neither agree nor disagree with a statement, and there can be two very different reasons for this. One case occurs when an economist is an expert on a topic and yet sees the evidence on the exact claim at hand as ambiguous. In such cases our panelists vote "uncertain". A second case relates to statements on topics so far removed from the economist's expertise that he or she feels unqualified to vote. In this case, our panelists vote "no opinion".

The Economic Experts Panel questions are emailed individually to the members of the panel, and each responds electronically at his or her convenience. Panelists may consult whatever resources they like before answering.

Members of the public are free to suggest questions (see link below), and the panelists suggest many themselves. Members of the IGM faculty are responsible for deciding the final version of each week’s question. We usually send a draft of the question to the panel in advance, and invite them to point out problems with the wording if they see any. In response, we typically receive a handful of suggested clarifications from individual experts. This process helps us to spot inconsistencies, and to reduce vagueness or problems of interpretation.

The panel data are copyrighted by the Initiative on Global Markets and are being analyzed for an article to appear in a leading peer-reviewed journal.

chicago booth