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Heaven's Door: Immigration Policy and the American Economy
Synopses & Reviews
"This provocative and carefully researched book will create a lot of waves. In well written and engaging prose, George Borjas addresses some difficult questions and bravely provides some difficult answers to issues that America as a nation must confront. Heaven's Door will be controversial, but it will be by far the best and most important source document for the coming national debate on the Second Great Migration."--William Julius Wilson, Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor, Harvard University
"A new book by George Borjas always provides original and honest insights that help us better understand immigration's impact on our country.Heaven's Door breaks important new ground on the social mobility of immigrants and their children and on the causes of the recent decline of immigrants' skills relative to those of natives. At the same time, it updates Borjas's work of the past decade on the costs and benefits of immigration. No one interested in the consequences of American immigration policy, present or proposed, should be without a well-worn copy."--U.S. Representative Lamar Smith
"The steady, thoughtful work of George Borjas has had a profound impact on the always emotional debate over immigration policy in the United States. The present nature of the national immigration debate would be different indeed were it not for Borjas's work. This book may well be controversial, but its clarity, sincerity, and relevance for anyone fascinated with immigration issues is rock solid."--Alan Simpson, U.S. Senator (Wyo.), Retired
"George Borjas has written a well-reasoned and well-documented book on the costs and benefits of immigration for the American economy. He offers imaginative proposals for reforms in immigration policies that deserve serious attention."--James J. Heckman, University of Chicago
"George Borjas has nearly single-handedly turned the economic study of immigration into a respectable and heavily researched topic. Like all his other work on the subject, this book is important reading and maybe even more valuable because it is accessible to anyone with a serious interest in the subject."--Orley Ashenfelter, Joseph Douglas Green 1895 Professor of Economics, Princeton University
"Borjas is the leading American economist today writing about immigration policy. I do not share all of his views, but they have to be taken seriously by everyone in the field, and indeed his research has shaped the field more than that of any other writer."--John Isbister, University of California, Santa Cruz
The U.S. took in more than a million immigrants per year in the late 1990s, more than at any other time in history. For humanitarian and many other reasons, this may be good news. But as George Borjas shows in Heaven's Door, it's decidedly mixed news for the American economy--and positively bad news for the country's poorest citizens. Widely regarded as the country's leading immigration economist, Borjas presents the most comprehensive, accessible, and up-to-date account yet of the economic impact of recent immigration on America. He reveals that the benefits of immigration have been greatly exaggerated and that, if we allow immigration to continue unabated and unmodified, we are supporting an astonishing transfer of wealth from the poorest people in the country, who are disproportionately minorities, to the richest.
In the course of the book, Borjas carefully analyzes immigrants' skills, national origins, welfare use, economic mobility, and impact on the labor market, and he makes groundbreaking use of new data to trace current trends in ethnic segregation. He also evaluates the implications of the evidence for the type of immigration policy the that U.S. should pursue. Some of his findings are dramatic:
Despite estimates that range into hundreds of billions of dollars, net annual gains from immigration are only about $8 billion.
In dragging down wages, immigration currently shifts about $160 billion per year from workers to employers and users of immigrants' services.
Immigrants today are less skilled than their predecessors, more likely to re-quire public assistance, and far more likely to have children who remain in poor, segregated communities.
Borjas considers the moral arguments against restricting immigration and writes eloquently about his own past as an immigrant from Cuba. But he concludes that in the current economic climate--which is less conducive to mass immigration of unskilled labor than past eras--it would be fair and wise to return immigration to the levels of the 1970s (roughly 500,000 per year) and institute policies to favor more skilled immigrants.
Table of Contents
CHAPTER 1: Reframing the Immigration Debate 3
CHAPTER 2: The Skills of Immigrants 19
CHAPTER 3: National Origin 39
CHAPTER 4: The Labor Market Impact of Immigration 62
CHAPTER 5: The Economic Benefits from Immigration 87
CHAPTER 6: Immigration and the Welfare State 105
CHAPTER 7: Social Mobility across Generations 127
CHAPTER 8: Ethnic Capital 146
CHAPTER 9: Ethnic Ghettos 161
CHAPTER 10: The Goals of Immigration Policy 174
CHAPTER 11: A Proposal for an Immigration Policy 189
CHAPTER 12: Conclusion 211
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