Germany is losing workers

Germany’s workforce, now about, was expected to peak in 2023 and then decline by 5 million by 2030. But COVID caused it to peak in 2019, decline, and come back to 45.6 million in June 2022. A five million loss from that peak means a decline of over 10% in the space of about ten years. Germany needs 400,000 new foreign born workers a year – close to 1% of the total workforce. This agenda is in the ball park of Canada’s target to bringing in the equivalent of 1% of its total population annually.

A chart here shows that Germany has depended since the 1970s on immigrants to keep its population from shrinking.

Go here, here, here, and here.

A farm worker immigration bill?

The House is reportedly close to agreement on passing a new temporary farm worker bill. Here are some background facts, some drawn from earlier postings.

International migraiton of farm workers boomed in the 2010s in response to demand for workers. (Go here.)  The U.S. is just one of many countries importing workers.

The majority of the 1.25 million hired farm workers today are foreign born. A tiny share are naturalized citizens, 20% are green-card holders, 10% are H-2A workers, and 50% are unauthorized. (Go here and  here.) This shows that any serious attempt to increase legal farm worker immigration needs to replace unauthorized with legal workers.

H2-A farm workers are paid on average about $14 per hour. This is roughly similar to the average wage of a worker without a high school degree. in California and Washington, farm wages (all workers) were over $17. (Go here.)

The existing primary temporary farm worker visa, H-2A, was created in 1952. The H-2A workforce grew between 2010 and 2021 from 50,000 to 250,000. The leading states in which they work are California, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Washington. (Go here and here.)

The last 30 years showed a sharp rise, and more gradual decline in the number of unauthorized farm workers, and a rise in the number of citizen and green card workers. (Go here.)

In 2017, half of corporate farmers reported a shortage of labor, less than 5% were using H-2A. This is due in part to employer objection so the processing and other burdens of the program. (Go here.)

Go here for an extensive amount of info about farm employment. Also go here.

One million talented immigration program


Graham Allison, professor of government at the Harvard Kennedy School, and Eric Schmidt is a former CEO and executive chairman of Google, describe a strategy to import many talented technical workers.  One of their arguments I’ve posted on – the reality that our artificial intelligence workforce is heavily immigrant-based.

Here are a few passages from their article In Foreign Policy

To leverage the United States’ greatest advantage, Biden should immediately announce a commitment to recruit 1 million of the world’s most technically talented individuals by the end of his first term in January 2025. To this end, the U.S. Congress should streamline the country’s immigration rules and establish programs to recruit and retain established tech superstars and the world’s best students researching advanced technologies. And if Congress will not act, then Biden should use his ample executive authority to create a million talents program and promote the United States’ leadership in the technology of the future.


China naturalizes fewer than 100 citizens each year, while the United States naturalizes nearly 1 million people annually. Barriers to China competing in this arena include an insular culture, engrained habits of being unwelcoming to foreigners, and a difficult-to-learn language spoken by few people outside of China.


Washington should grant an additional 250,000 green cards each year. The current backlog of green cards—which entitle their holders to permanent residency and unrestricted work—is well over 1 million for high-skilled immigrants and is projected to grow to nearly 2.5 million by 2030. Right now, the U.S. government is hopelessly behind, approving two applications for every green card it actually issues.


Next, the United States should recruit more geniuses. Granting 100,000 additional visas each year to extraordinary tech talents would go a long way toward strengthening the U.S. technology workforce.


The United States can also boost retention of tech talent by granting immediate permanent residency to every foreign-born doctoral graduate in the STEM subjects. The majority of recent graduates from AI Ph.D. programs in the United States who left the country have cited the cumbersome immigration process as a critical factor in their decision to leave.


Academic studies of negative effects of immigration

In “A Compendium of Recent Academic Work Showing Negative Impacts of Immigration,” the Center for Immigration Studies summarizes 32 research articles with address some negative effect of immigration.

I see two major features of this compendium. First, the most studied issue is a negative impact on native born persons with low formal education / low skills by immigration of people suitable for the same jobs.

Second, a key issue of immigration impact is completely missing: the impact of increased immigration on social and political tension. This issue has been acknowledged even by researchers who are pro-immigration, such as Robert Putnam (here).

Low skilled native born workers lose out: “This review paper is similar in content to the National Academies’ chapters, but it takes a more international perspective. After considering over 50 studies of immigration in developed countries, the author concludes that “immigration can create winners and losers among the native-born workers.” Because low-skill immigration tends to make low-skill natives the “losers” and high-skill natives the “winners”, rising inequality is a natural consequence.” (From here.) 

Restrictions lead to more mobility: “1920s immigration restrictions benefited rural Americans who migrated into cities to replace lost labor. In contrast, farmers mechanized rather than attempting to recruit new workers.” (From here.)

Farm mechanization: Some articles on the positive effect of reduced immigration on farm mechanization, and visa-versa. CIS addressed this in its own 2007 report, here.

Impact of refugee influx: “Resettling refugees may be a humanitarian good, but the argument that refugees are somehow an economic boon to their host nations is dubious. This paper reviews the evidence that refugees struggle to integrate into the economies of high-income host nations. In the U.S. specifically, refugees perform unusually well in finding jobs. However, in line with their counterparts in other rich nations, U.S. refugees earn low wages even after 10 years of residency. (From here.)

The Jamaican Diaspora

Jamaica is the largest source of English-speaking Caribbean emigrants.

As of now, there are 3 million persons living in Jamaica. The domestic population has experienced a declining fertility rate, going below the 2.1 births per woman replacement rate in the early 2010s.

Among living Jamaicans, 1.2 million live outside the country today, inferring that upwards of 29% of Jamaicans live outside Jamaica (1.2 + 3 = 4.2 total). Of the 1.2 million, two thirds, or about 800,000, live in the U.S. They comprise by far the largest share of English-speaking Caribbean immigrants in the U.S.

There are large communities the United States, the UK, and Canada of Jamaicans born in Jamaica and offspring of earlier immigrants. The percentage of residents who are of Jamaican heritage: London 4%; Toronto 3.4%.

From here, here and here.

The economics of smuggling people into the U.S.

I’ve found at long last an informative overview of smuggling of Central Americans into the U.S. The Wall Street Journal reported, drawing largely from a November 2021 study which I cite at the end.

Persons in El Salvador, Guatamala and Honduras who have entered the U.S. within the past five years report that 15% migrated to the U.S. legally, 22% irregular without a smuggler, and 55% with a smuggler.

Among the migrants using a smuggler it took two attempts to make it to the destination country. Those who traveled through regular migration channels including temporary tourist and employment visas, many overstayed their visas.

Guatemalan migrants are most likely to rely on smugglers 78% — compared to Salvadorians 64% and Hondurans 25%

The average smuggling cost is $7,500. Compare that with wages in the U.S. of dishwashers about $14/hr or $25,000 annually, and for a landscaping laborer $17/hr or $30,000. The average wage in Guatemala City is annually $6,000. Adjusted for purchasing power, that annual wage is $9,700.

This means that a Guatemalan worker by coming to the U.S. and earning $30,000, after tax and other wage deductions of 30%, can by keeping expenses low afford to remit $300 a month while building up cash savings.

It could take between 9 and 11 months for Central Americans to pay the full expenses of migrating irregularly with a smuggler and between five and eight months to pay the expenses associated with regular migration. For those who did not make it to the United States or who are repatriated to the countries of origin, paying back loans and expenses present an even greater challenge.

The percentage of households that reported a member of migrating recently to the United States: El Salvador 15% Guatemala 12% Honduras 12%.

29% of households reported regularly receiving remittances from abroad. In Guatemala it was a monthly amount of $350 while in Honduras and El Salvador it was 170 and $150, respectively.

There is an overwhelming demand for employment opportunities outside the countries. Violence, insecurity and natural disasters have been complex and launch it standing triggers of migration, but economic factors for where participants’ primary motivation for emigrating.

I have posted on the American basin of foreign labor. I have posted here on the real wage gains for a low formally educated person coming to the U.S.

Here is the primary source of information: Charting a new regional course of action: the complex motivations and cost of central American migration. Co-authored by Migration Policy Institute, World Food Program, and Civic Data Design Lab, November 2021

The results of skilled migration

Immigration worldwide has experienced a rise in formal education. This is the case for immigration to the U.S. and I expect to the Commonwealth countries and western Europe. (Go here and here for the U.S.)


I have posted on the positive effects of migration from developing to advanced countries. Here is an overview found in a recent study the Migration Policy Institute.

The development of new industries in Taiwan, India, mainland China, and Israel have depended on international networks of skilled immigrants from these countries. Ideas for new patants tend to travel to developing countries through skilled workers from these countries living abroad and working at centers of research. Here is my posting about how the H-1B program spurred the development of the Indian IT industry.

Many youths in developing countries invest in education precisely because it gives them the option to access highway jobs abroad. (This is brought up in my posting about the Indian IT sector.)

Skilled migraines are as likely to send remittances as less skilled peers. When they do remit, they send larger amounts. Here is my posting that Nigerians, who on average have very high formal education, remit about ten times the amount per immigrant as Mexicans.

Countries become more democratic when large numbers of the students require higher education in democratic countries. The mechanism for this include the transfer of ideas, information, identity, and money by foreign trans individuals that might serve to interrupt repressive activities.

Many skilled workers are actually under employed or unemployed in their country of origin, so in many cases immigration can alleviate labor market pressures in developing countries. Restricting skilled nationals ability to leave their countries of origin has not shown to yield the intended benefits, and bring substantial cost. To take the example of African healthcare workers, there is no evidence of blocking international movement has reduced broad measures of morbidity or mortality. One sign of this is that broad health measures are worse than African countries that have experienced the least emigration of healthcare workers. In general, skilled worker shortages in developing states are not the result of migration, and instead have structural causes that go beyond the emigration of workers.


Long term care for the elderly and international migration

The International Labor Organization has a benchmark of 4 long term care workers per 100 persons 65 years or older. That implies a standard for the U.S. of 3,250,000 long term care workers. The actual number of long term care worker varies by definition and greatly by county. In any event, the demand for long term care workers in advanced countries will only be met by international migration as the number of aged increases.

PHI estimates that there are 4.6 million direct care workers in the U.S., including 2.4 million home care workers, 675,000 residential care aides, 527,000 nursing assistants in nursing homes, and about 1 million direct care workers employed in other settings. The number of persons over 65 in the U.S. as a percentage of total population is projected to grow from about 16% to 23% in 2060, with the gain largely in non-white populations. (from here).

In OECD countries, keeping the current ratio of long-term care workers to older people would mean increasing the number of workers across the OECD by 13.5 million in the next 18 years– an increase of 60% on average over 2016 levels.

Just a few OECD countries – Canada, Israel and Japan – have implemented targeted labour migration pathways for older persons’ care workers. Australia is also exploring ways to use its general labour migration pathway to attract older persons’ care workers to rural and remote areas of the country.

Formal systems of care: In northern Europe, in countries such a Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden, there are high levels of formal, subsidised care and often large care workforces staffing residential institutions and providing home-care services. There are twice as many long term care workers in some Scandinavian countries per hundred elderly than in the United States (10 vs 5 per hundred).

From ODI, here.

U.S. by far most popular migration destination

Happy Fourth of July!

Gallup says that in 2017, 15% of the world’s adults — or more than 750 million people — said they would like to move to another country if they had the opportunity. This ranges from a third of persons in Sub-Sahara Africa, 23% of Latin Americans, to 7% of East Asia.

Half of persons who wish to migrate want to go to one of 7 locations, all but one of which is an advanced country, three of which are English-speaking.