Global talent pool and student migration to the U.S.

A fresh study looks at the central role of American universities and companies in advancing scientific knowledge worldwide through migration patterns and barriers. With 4% of the world’s population, the U.S. is the site of 20-33% of “frontier knowledge producers.” Migrants to the U.S. account for one in five worldwide Nobel Prize winners in science. Much of the world’s top talent migrates to the U.S. but only some eventually return to their countries of origin.

The U.S. is so important for global scientific advances that by removing barriers to American education, global scientific output of talent would increase by 42%.

Migrants to the U.S. are significantly more productive than migrants to other countries. Migrants to the U.S. are four to six times more productive than those staying in their country of origin. Educational financing costs are a key factor preventing foreign talent to migrate to the U.S. Among International student math gold medalists in developing counties, 66% dream of studying in the U.S. while only 25% manage to do so. The key constraint is not immigration policy but lack of financing of an American education.
From “Why U.S. Immigration Barriers Matter for the Global Advancement of Science”

The demographic shifts within the immigrant population

The foreign-born population in the United States has been pretty stable in total numbers (about 45 million) and percent of total (13.7%) in recent years, but there have been important shifts within this population which deepen their integration into American society. Here are just three of numerous trends.

First, immigrants are more likely to be naturalized. In the past two years, the non-citizen share of immigrants has gone down by an annual average of about 400,000, which the naturalized share has risen be an annual average of about 600,000.(Go here).

Second, education attainment of recent immigrants has increased. This is in large part due to the relative rise of Asian immigrants. Between 2010 and 2019, foreign-born persons with Asian origins increased by 2.8 million, compared with just 1.3 million from Latin America. As William Frey of Brookings writes, “In terms of educational attainment, the greatest 2010 to 2019 growth was registered by foreign-born persons with bachelor’s degrees or professional and graduate degrees. When looking at the net gains of 2010 to 2019 foreign-born adults (age 25 and older), nearly two-thirds were college graduates, compared to one-third of the native-born population. This counters long-held stereotypes promoted by the Trump administration.”

Third, the tenure of unauthorized persons has been significantly lengthening in the 15 years. In 2005, 38% of unauthorized persons had been in the country for at least 10 years. In 2016, that was 66%. In 2016, eight-in-ten had lived in the U.S. for more than 10 years. In fact, the typical unauthorized Mexican immigrant adult has lived in the U.S. for nearly 17 years. (Go here.)

Where immigrant communities swung to Trump

The NY Times reports, “Across the United States, many areas with large populations of Latinos and residents of Asian descent, including ones with the highest numbers of immigrants, had something in common this election: a surge in turnout and a shift to the right, often a sizable one, based on a New York Times analysis of voting in 28,000 precincts in more than 20 cities. Biden won in almost all these precincts but the margin for the Democratic candidate narrowed.

In Cook County (Chicago) Biden won by 50 percentage points but 2,158 of immigrant-heavy precincts shifted right compared with 1,508 that shifted left. The Hispanic vote went more towards Trump. In Chinatown, Trump’s vote increased by 34 percent over 2016, while Mr. Biden received 6 percent fewer votes than Hillary Clinton.

In Miami, where a majority of Latinos are of Cuban descent, Biden’s margin of victory was just seven percentage points, down from Clinton’s margin of 29 percentage points in 2016. And two Democratic congresswomen lost their seats there in this election.

Across Texas, the red shifts were most pronounced in precincts with the highest proportion of Latinos. The Democratic margin in 80 percent Latino precincts dropped an average of 17 percentage points. In Houston’s 245 precincts with the largest share of Latinos, turnout was up sharply from 2016, and Trump won nearly two-thirds of the additional votes.

In Philadelphia, precincts in the Northeast — home to a mix of many Asian and Eastern European immigrants — shifted in Mr. Trump’s direction, even though a majority still favored Mr. Biden.

In New York City, where 38 percent of residents are immigrants, most areas shifted right, even though they all remained strongly Democratic. This included virtually every predominantly Latino precinct and ones where a majority of residents are of Asian descent.

In the city’s 100 precincts with the largest number of Latinos, Mr. Trump received 18 percent of the vote this year, compared with just 7 percent in 2016. In precincts with large numbers of residents of Asian descent, turnout was up 20 percent, with Mr. Trump winning most of the additional votes.

California is home to a third of the country’s residents of Asian descent. One of the most drastic red shifts in the country came in Orange County in precincts with many Vietnamese residents, who basically switched sides.

Biden First Day Plan for Immigration: legalize all persons

This is the most informed article on Biden’s plan to propose immigration reform in his first day of office. The Washington Post writes it includes an eight-year pathway to citizenship to all persons “without legal status” who have been in the country as of 1/1/21. There are about 10.5 million such persons. The plan gives them temporary status for five years and then grants them a green card once they meet certain requirements such as a background check and payment of taxes. They would be able to apply for citizenship three years later.

I expect that the steady increase in Hispanic vote and its significant shift towards Republicans will improve the odds of Republican support for this change. So long as the Hispanic vote was out of reach by Republicans (except for Cubans),  the”amnesty” card was easy for Republicans to play against the Dems. Now Reps have to think twice. According to Pew Research, legalization is top political concern of Hispanics today.

There are many other provisions to be introduced. I focus on this one because it is the most politically challenging. Every major attempt to reform immigration since 2000 has included normalization of unauthorized status persons. The last attempt was in 2017 which never got anywhere; the one before that which received some measure of congressional recognition was in 2013.

The Post goes on, “To win passage, the administration would have to retain all Democratic votes as well as persuade at least 10 Republican senators to cross the aisle. Some proponents of the 2013 effort — such as Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) — remain in the Senate, although many others have since left.


Black migration in America in three charts

A 2002 Census publication tracks the growth of the slave population in the South, 1790 – 1860. The chart shows the growth of the slave population in the South. Importation of slaves was banned in 1808. The slave population grew from 1790 to 1860 – 70 years — by an average compound rate of 2.4% a year. Contrast that with the average compound rate of growth of the U.S. population between 1945 and 2000 – 1.3%.

In 1860, 66% of the North’s Black population was free; only 6% of the Black population in the South was free. The South accounted for 91% of the Black population in the U.S. in 1790, and 92% in 1860.

Now look at the northern migration of Blacks, which took off in the early 20th Century. These charts show the percentage of population that was Black. The decline in the percentage of blacks in the Mississippi population reflects southern out- migration. The rise in the percentage of Blacks in Illinois reflects northern in-migration. In 1900, the South accounted for 89% of the Black population; in 1990, only 52%.

Pandemic and household financial distress

Pew Research in September 2020 found that the adverse economic impact of the pandemic varied greatly by ethnic/racial groups. The graph below shows this disparity in term of difficult in paying bills.

Black and Hispanic adults are more likely to have drawn on government or charitable food resources since the outbreak began. Black adults (48%) and Hispanic adults (40%) are significantly more likely to say they have drawn on either of these resources since February than White and Asian adults (16% and 19%).

The disparity is, I believe, mostly driven by job wage and job security, and they are closely correlated with education status. Here is somewhat outdated (2016) data on educational attainment by race and ethnicity. The Pew Research report said that 47% of “lower income” households were laid off or had to take a pay cut, vs 32% of “upper income” households.

About a third of adults with a high school diploma or less education (34%) and 27% of those with some college experience say they have struggled with paying bills, compared with 12% of those with a bachelor’s degree or more education. About one-in-five adults with some college or high school or less education say they have had problems paying their rent or mortgage (18% and 23%) since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak. Those with a high school diploma or less education are twice as likely as those with a bachelor’s degree or more education to have lost their health insurance in the same time period (6% vs. 3%).

Biden initiatives on Central American immigration

In a December 21 interview, Susan Rice, the incoming Domestic Policy Advisor, and Jake Sullivan, the incoming National Security Advisor, laid out the new administration’s ideas for migration from Central America.

ONE. Submit legislation to create a path to citizenship for all undocumented persons.

Me: About 70% of undocumented (I prefer the word unauthorized) persons are from Mexico and Central America. This goal is stated without a balancing provision for better enforcement of immigration laws, such as e-Verify.

TWO. The two say that that migration happens when people are in fear of their lives.

Me: This is simply not true for the large majority of international migration, and was not a significant aspect of Mexican migration to the United States. While is it part of migration from Central America, the economic incentives are I believe much more. See this posting based on a interviews: Economic factors are the most salient in influencing migration and are cited far more often as the primary motivator for migration than victimization factors.

THREE. Encourage legal immigration, permanent or temporary, for work or for family unification.

Me: this is much too vague to draw any inferences as to actual policy.

FOUR. Streamline the asylum process.

Me: this probably will reassert a policy that crime (beyond state breakdown) and domestic violence are valid rationales for granting asylum

FIVE. Introduce a $4 billion, four-year program for Central America to “confront corruption, enhance security, and foster prosperity.”

SIX. Undo Trump’s “third party” arrangement for migrants, by which countries held Central American residents who seek to migrate to the U.S. Also, rescind the “Remain in Mexico” program for those at the border.

Some major counties are predominantly Hispanic

there are 60 million plus Hispanics in the U.S. Their population growth rate is now a subdued 1.9% a year compared to negative for Whites. In 2000 there were 36 million Hispanics. The median age of Hispanics has increased and, among foreign-born the tenure in the U.S. has significantly increased.

Ten million of the 60 million reside in four mega Hispanic cities– the counties with at least 1.25 million Hispanics: Los Angeles county (4.9 million, the most populous county in California), Harris County (2.1 million,Houston, the most populous county in Texas), Miami-Dade (1.9 million, the most populous county in Florida), and Maricopa County (1.4 milion, Phoenix, the most populous county in Arizona). Five of the counties with the largest Hispanic population are in California.

Go here.