Racial and ethnic diversity in Congress

133, or 25%, of the 534 voting members of Congress as of January 3, 2023 are non-white. (Go here.)

Here is the breakdown, showing numbers in Congress,  percentage of Congress, and percentage of total eligible voters in the U.S. as of 2020.

White: 401 members (75%). 67% of total eligible voters.

Black: 60 members (11.2%).  12.5% of total eligible voters.

Hispanic: 54 members (10%). 13.3% of total eligible voters

Asian: 18 members (3.4%). 4.7% of total eligible voters

American Indian / Alaskan native: 5 members (1%). These groups make up about 2% of the total population; most likely less of total eligible voters.

A fresh look at STEM workers and immigration

A more realistic assessment of STEM workers would show that about one fifth of them are immigrants; immigrants account for close to half of doctoral level STEM workers; that STEM workers are concentrated in family-creation age cohorts, that they earn much more than most workers.

I have posted on STEM workers and immigrants most recently here and here. In this posting I rely in part on a 2021 study which defines STEM workers broadly, to recognize the “skilled technical workforce.” It says that “this major shift in the broad understanding of the STEM workforce more than doubles the number of workers classified as part of the STEM workforce by including 16 million workers with at least a bachelor’s degree and 20 million without a bachelor’s degree.” The study elsewhere says that the broader definition includes 34 million workers of 23% of the total workforce. Foreign-born workers are 21% of the broader definition, up from 17% of the entire workforce which is foreign-born and 14% of the entire population.

Foreign-born penetration in the STEM workforce

The study, using the broader definition, reports that “…foreign-born workers accounted for 21% of workers in S&E occupations at the bachelor’s degree level, 38% at the master’s degree level, and 45% at the doctoral degree level. Foreign-born workers accounted for 25% of computer and mathematical scientists at the bachelor’s degree level and 60% of computer and mathematical scientists with doctorates. Similarly, approximately one-half of engineers and life scientists at the doctoral degree level, and about one-third of these workers at the master’s degree level were foreign born.”

Age of STEM workers

There are relatively fewer less than 25 years old because most STEM workers need to have a college degree. There are relatively fewer over than 44 because STEM work has surged during a time when people were entering the job market. Total STEM workforce — 43.8% are between 25 and 44; immigrant STEM workers 52.6%.

STEM Wages

The expanded definition of STEM workers includes about 34 million workers, or 23% of the total workforce. A traditional definition includes about 10 million. These 10 million earn on average about $90,000, compared to $40,000 for the workforce as whole.

The traditional definition is: Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) occupations include computer and mathematical, architecture and engineering, and life and physical science occupations, as well as managerial and postsecondary teaching occupations related to these functional areas and sales occupations requiring scientific or technical knowledge at the postsecondary level.

What ChatGPT tells me about AI and immigration


I’ve posted here about global talent in artificial intelligence. Here is what ChatGPT has to say.

Describe the distribution of artificial intelligence experts throughout the world

Artificial intelligence (AI) expertise is distributed throughout the world, with concentrations in certain regions and countries.

North America, particularly the United States, is considered to be a leading center for AI research and development. Many of the world’s top AI companies and research institutions are located in the US, including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and IBM. Additionally, many universities in the US, such as MIT and Stanford, have strong AI research programs and produce many of the top AI experts in the field.

Europe also has a strong presence in the field of AI, with several countries having well-established research communities. The United Kingdom, France, Germany and Switzerland have a large number of AI experts and companies working in the field of AI.

In Asia, China and South Korea are becoming major players in the field of AI, with a growing number of companies and research institutions investing in AI research and development.

India is also emerging as a key player in the field of AI, with a large number of AI experts and a growing number of companies working in the field.

In Latin America, countries like Brazil, Argentina and Chile are showing a growing interest in AI and are starting to develop their own AI research communities.

What is the share of artificial intelligence experts in the U.S. who are foreign born?

According to a study by the National Science Board, about one-third of all artificial intelligence (AI) experts in the United States are foreign-born. The study found that of the 1.2 million people working in the field of AI in the US, about 36% were born outside of the country. This is in line with the trend of high-skilled immigration in the US, where a significant percentage of professionals in technology and other STEM fields are foreign-born.

Many of these foreign-born AI experts come from countries such as India, China, and Canada, and have been attracted to the US by the opportunities to work at leading technology companies and research institutions, as well as the availability of funding and resources for AI research.

How Indians came to dominate the independent hotel business

When I come across an Indian at the reception desk of a modestly priced hotel, I routinely ask if she or he comes from Gujarat State.

Indians, primarly from Gujarat, are estimated to own between 80 and 90 percent of the motels in small towns. According to the Asian American Hotel Owners Association. 34,000 hotel are run by Indians (from all states in India), out of about 50,000 hotels in total in the U.S. For instance, 89% of all hotels in Texas are owned by Indians.(Go here.)

Indians began to buy hotels in the 1940s, mainly in California, But the surge started in 1976 when Chandrakant Patel, working for Braniff airlines in Dallas, and with masters degrees from Stanford and Johns Hopkins, bought a hotel he named the Alamo Plaza Hotel Courts Dallas, part of a chain of Alamo hotels which eventually went out of business.  (This from a 1999 New York Times article. Also go here.)

He manned the front desk, his  wife did the laundry. The family, with four children had a 2,000 square-feet house to live in rooms behind the motel’s front desk.

“It was a tough life managing both my airline job and the motel at the same time. I had to sacrifice a lot, especially in terms of my family life but I realized soon that I was saving a lot of money in terms of rent, utilities and phone bills because I was staying on my own property and using the motel’s phone and power connections.”

Eventually Indians, especially those from Gujarat, bought and operated many thousands of motels in rural America, often the only Indian family in town.

A formula for purchase, management and further investment evolved. Financing came from family and friends, for a down payment, from an independent American owner who wanted to leave the hotel business – Indian vastly expanded their ownership while the demand for hotel rooms grew and existing owners decided to sell. (Go here for a recent history of hotels in the U.S.)  One did not need fluent English, and the owners lived in the hotel. Extended family members came to live in the hotels. Profits were often used to buy other hotels.

Assume a small budget hotel with 40 rooms, an 60% occupancy rate with average nightly charge of $75. By providing most of the labor, the owner family can removed some 50% of operating costs. If the profit margin is 30%, income after expenses will be around $200,000.

Patel himself went on purchase 13 hotels by 1987, eventually large big city hotels as well. He founded the State Bank of Texas. His well-educated sons are part of the management team. (This hotel Patel family is different from Mafat Patel, who immigrated to Chicago and built a chain of grocery stores.)

Here is a short Youtube Video of a case study about Indian run hotels.

Naturalization is back up.

From Pew Research: The naturalized citizen population in the U.S. continues to increase rapidly. The total number of naturalized citizens in the U.S. almost tripled between 1995 and 2019, from 7.6 million to 22.1 million. The share of lawful immigrants who were naturalized grew steadily from 38% in 1995 to 65% in 2019. Net result: a greater share of foreign born persons in the U.S. are citizens — thus able to vote.

there are about 46.6 million foreign born persons in the U.S. (legal, illegal, temporary, permanent) –up from 34.2 million in 2000.

Green card holders can achieve citizenship after a waiting period of at least five years before they are eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship. If you are married to a U.S. citizen, you may be eligible to apply for citizenship after three years. Once one applies for citizenship, the bureaucratic steps take about a year.

Pew says that immigrants are more likely to be naturalized if they speak English very well, have strong ties to the U.S. and have lived in the U.S. for a long time.  (To pass an English test, you must be able to demonstrate an understanding of basic English grammar, vocabulary, and reading and writing skills.).

My sense is that many immigrants from Mexica and Central America are relatively less motivated to become American citizens due to continuing strong attachment to their countries of origin.


The EB-5 program

The EB-5 program was created by the Immigration Act of 1990 and most recently revised by Congress in March 2022.  The act provides for the issuance of Green Cards in exchange for investment and hiring – simply stated, for a one-million dollar investment and hiring of 10 American citizens. The program’s rules incent persons to invest in geographic areas with under-investment.

Wikipedia has a long entry on the program with much history. Here is description of the legislative changes in March 2022.

The funds have normally been applied to real estate projects such as hotels, hospitals and senior living centers. The 2022 revisions might spur investments in retail buildings.  As a rough rule of thumb, the 10,000 visas supposed to be issued annually could bring in $10 billion a year into real estate. The National Association of Realtors estimated that in 2020 $235 billion was poured into commercial real estate investment. Thus, EB-5 is a niche business. It is next to impossible to find how EB-5 really makes a difference.

The great majority of EB-5 applicants and awardees come from Asian countries.  One sociological study of recent awardees suggested that EB-5 applicants are primarily wealthy households who want a foothold in the United States as part of strategy to gain some independence from their own country’s regimes. Notwithstanding applicant motivation, the EB-5 program is in large measure a dense thicket of real estate developers, consultants, and politicians operating out of public view.  One person who has a deep understanding of the program in Suzanne Lasicki, who manages a blog on the subject almost like a public service,

The EB-5 visa falls within the broad category of employment-based green cards, of which there is a cap of 140,000 a year. The EB-5 program is allocated about 10,000 visa slots annually.  The actual number of filings for these visas within a single has ranged in the past ten years from about 16,000 to 4,000, suggesting that politics and bureaucracy, plus the Trump Administration’s attempt to suppress immigration, played a large role. This is not a program with a steady, transparent and abuse free character. The number of visas actually issued before FT 2020 was about 10,000, with half or more going to Chinese. There is a relatively small Indian involvement. The total number of outstanding applications is around 40,000. (Go here).

The number of visas issued collapsed during the pandemic years.  Here is Suzanne’s breakdown by country for FY 2021. A relatively recent development is that the Chinese government has reportedly shut down marketing of the program within the country,



One third of innovation is by immigrants

I have previously posted on the synergistic effect of many Indian IT workers coming to the U.S. with a temporary work visa such as H-1B, then using their American experience to foster the IT industry in India. Now we have a study of total innovation in the United States which finds that global collaboration by immigrant inventors, which causes diffusion of innovative advances, result in 36% of total innovation in the United States by immigrants. Both this and the Indian IT case share the same global foundation for expertise and innovation.

Abstract:  We find the immigrants account for 16% of all US and inventors (patent winners) from 1990 through 2016. Immigrants, however, produce about 23% of total innovation, as we find the average immigrant is substantially more productive than the average US born inventor. Immigrant inventors are more likely to rely on foreign technologies, to collaborate with foreign inventors, and to be cited in foreign markets, thus contributing to the importation and diffusion of ideas across borders. Taking innovation as a whole, 36% can be attributed to immigrants mostly due to their higher degree of global collaboration and diffusion.


—- The contribution of high skilled immigrants to innovation in the United States. Shai Bernstein et al, NBER Working Paper Dec 2022

Effect of immigration on wages: an overview of research

I return to the question of whether immigration affects the wages of U.S. born workers.  The short answer is that academic studies for the U.S. and other countries tend to report little impact. And, some careful mental speculation would come to the same conclusion.

This may well have to do with how immigration works in advanced countries, with relatively little size of immigrant workforces vs the existing workforce, and the fluidity of the workforce of an advanced economy. (Thus, large numbers of Venezuelans rapidly migrating to Columbia may well affect wages).

A 2011 meta-analysis with 213 citations concluded that “the likelihood and magnitude of adverse labor market affects for natives from immigration are substantially weaker than perceived. Most studies find only minor displacement afterwards, even after very large immigration flows.”

The question of wage effect may be the wrong question to ask in an advanced economy. A better question may be, does immigration increase or decrease the number of Americans employed, leaving aside wage impact. In an environment of labor shortage and a dynamic economy, immigrants may both increase employment and wages. But the effects will almost certainly by very local.

This entry reviewed in 2006 the wage issue, citing two case studies. Here is another posting. The World Bank addressed the issue of wage impact and ppolicy responses to it in 2018.

Jobs for persons with a lot of formal education.  Some studied (and your own speculation) suggest that medical doctors, computer scientists and other education immigrants may in fact increase the numbers of U.S. born persons employed (their wages may not go up). Consider the immigrant who provides a critically needed expertise to a team.

Jobs for persons with low formal education.  Consider persons without a high school degree.  26% of all immigrants have less than a high school degree education compared to 8% of U.S. born persons. (This high rate for immigrants has almost certainly gone down among recent immigrants.)

Divide the jobs between those requiring or favoring English proficiency and American cultural literary (Type A) and those not (Type B). Type A:  restaurant server, barista, sales staff in retail. Note that these jobs involve a high level of social interaction and opportunities for self-expression.  Type B: landscape worker, warehouse worker, farm worker, waste management, semi-skilled factory work. Note that these jobs effectively preclude the worker from expanding her use of English and interacting with the public.  Consider that many of the Type B jobs are relatively very hard, such as meat processing workers. We can infer that in a dynamic large economy poorly educated immigrants do not necessarily compete with their peers in education.

Also go here.

Countries that are in the American workforce basin

The American workforce has sucked up millions of workers from Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.  I call this large area the basin for our workforce at lower levels of formal education. (Go here.)

This table lists all the independent countries in the world with at least 15% of its population residing in the U.S. (Go here,)

Let’s look at the larger countries in the American workforce basin (note El Salvador is in the first table):

Vulnerability of climate change: The Sahel

The Sahel, broadly defined, is an expense of whole countries and portions of countries south of North Africa, extending from the Atlantic coast to the Red Sea, from Senegal to Eritrea but also bordering parts of Nigeria, Algeria, Central African Republic and other countries.  Some 150 million persons live there. The countries have some of the highest birth rates in the world, some exceeding 5 children per woman.

One center says that “the temperature of the Sahel will increase by 3 to 5 degrees Celsius by 2050 and possibly 8 degrees Celsius by 2100. Rainfall will decrease and become more erratic. Agricultural production will decrease from anywhere between 13 percent in Burkina Faso to almost 50 percent in Sudan.

The entire sweep of countries are among the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change,  measured in degree of exposure to harm in food, water, health, ecosystem service, human habitat, and infrastructure, and degree to their incapacity to adapt to change. Go here for Notre Dame’ ranking of countries,

A Migration Policy Institute report of November 2022 says that most people severely affected by climate change will be immobile, either choosing to stay or forced to do so. In Burkina Faso, for example, people living in better environmental conditions are more likely to migrate, in part because severe rainfall deficits and bad harvests can make it harder for people in other areas to gather the resources needed to move internationally.  In a 2021 survey of West African migrants conducted in Burkina Faso, Libya, Mali, Niger, Sudan, and Tunisia, 86 percent shared that they had left their countries of origin because of economic reasons and only 2 percent cited natural disasters or environmental reasons. However, when asked if environmental issues were a factor in their decision to leave, 41 percent agreed.