Gallup poll many more people want immigration reduced

From a Gallup Poll conducted in January 2023:  The disparity between Republican and Democratic support of lower immigration was relatively tight between 2000 and 2011. In 2011, the disparity was 17%  (Reps 54% Dems 37%).  In early 2023, the disparity is 54% (Reps 71% Dems 19%).

However, Pew in 2018 reported from its poll that support for lower immigration had been  declining.  And in mid 2020 Gallup reported that “for the first time” Americans wanted more, not less, immigration.  Thus popular opinion is highly volatile, and any single poll appears to be heavily influenced by current factors including inter party dynamics.

Both party’s hostility to immigration surged since 2021, per Gallup:

The percentage of Republicans dissatisfied with immigration levels for being too high jumped from 40% in 2021 to 69% in 2022 and remains about the same today, at 71%. The percentage of Democrats dissatisfied and desiring less immigration was nearly nonexistent in 2021, at 2%, before rising to 11% last year and 19% now. Independents’ dissatisfaction and preference for less immigration has about doubled since 2021, rising from 19% at that time to 36% today.

Republicans’ displeasure with immigration for being too high is now the highest Gallup has recorded for that party. On the other hand, despite increasing in recent years, this viewpoint is less common today among independents and especially Democrats than it was in the post-9/11 years.

Disparity by age cohort is growing. The disparity by age cohort has grown fairly steadily since 2011.  54% of persons over age 55 want less immigration vs. 16% for persons 18 – 34; a disparity of 38%. In the past the disparity was more like 15%.

History of migration from and to China since 1949

The Migration Policy Institute wrote a 5,000 word essay on the history of Chinese internal and external migration. Here are excerpts. I have posted in the past on Chinese migration here.

The story of China’s mobility boom starts at home, with millions of internal migrants moving from the country’s rural interior to the coastal areas. In the 2020 census, nearly 376 million people lived someplace other than their household registration area, a group often referred to as the “floating population.”

The founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 followed prolonged war and poverty-driven population displacement, leading the new government to make a top priority of controlling migration. International arrivals and departures fell even lower in the late 1960s, when foreign ties became highly politicized during the Cultural Revolution. Emigration was difficult, as the government limited the issuance of passports and exit permits.

Migration management in the 1949-1979 period was characterized by strong ideological concerns and limited immigration governance experience. Ethnic Chinese return migrants and new arrivals from the diaspora were settled on state-owned farms without paths to full integration, leading to citizenship issues that lasted for generations. The state imported a Soviet-style system for international visitors aimed at hosting and controlling so-called “foreign friends.” This system was later expanded and adapted to the reform-era purposes of attracting foreign investment and technology while minimizing foreign interference. Chinese citizens were educated in how to engage foreigners while minimizing in-depth contact.

Post 1979

After China’s leaders in 1979 identified global economic integration as a key target, many of its citizens moved abroad in search of better economic opportunities. Previous decades had been marked by the state’s control of international movement, but global mobility gradually became more accessible in the late 20th century and the new millennium.

China experienced an “emigration craze” after the 1990s, during which millions of people moved abroad. An estimated 10.5 million Chinese citizens lived abroad as of 2020, according to United Nations estimates. The Chinese government has sought to maintain ties with these “new” migrants, as they are called to differentiate from those who emigrated in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and has in recent years also emphasized linkages with the wider diaspora, which has been estimated at between 35 million and 50 million.

As it became possible for more citizens to obtain passports, emigration increased and diversified. China dispatched contract laborers abroad through government agencies at the request of countries with labor shortages, bringing sorely needed foreign currency to China. Other migrants left on their own to join relatives abroad. In the early 1990s, the largest ethnic Chinese populations outside China were in East and Southeast Asia, but the highest growth of Chinese migrants was in North America, Western Europe, Japan, and Australia.

Encouraging citizens to travel abroad was not only a source of foreign currency for China, but also a way to catch up with global developments in science and technology. During the first 20 years of reform policies, some 320,000 students went overseas. However, access to international education often led students to settle abroad permanently. Only about one-third of these students returned to China. In addition, a wave of activist students, workers, and intellectuals fled to the United States and Europe in the wake of the 1989 Tiananmen Square rallies.

Since 2000

The percentage of Chinese citizens with a passport increased from around 2 percent of the population in 2010 to nearly 15 percent, or more than 200 million people, in 2019 (compared to 47 percent in the United States). As in the 1980s, Chinese nationals often move to Europe and North America for work and family reunification, however this mobility has decreased relative to other migration streams such as foreign study. In 2016, the number of Chinese students entering Europe surpassed those entering on work and family reunification visas. More than 700,000 Chinese higher education students went abroad in 2019, and about 500,000 international students attended higher education in China in 2018.

Many of these trends were put to the test during the COVID-19 outbreak. China set up especially stringent pandemic border restrictions as part of its “zero-COVID” strategy, bringing movement to and from the country to a near halt over 2020 and 2021. In the first half of 2021, border crossings stood at 10 percent of 2019 levels.

China’s central immigration law, the 2012 Exit-Entry Administration Law, was developed through multiple drafts over a decade. A system by which immigrants could obtain permanent residence was introduced in 2004, but has been implemented on a case-by-case basis. Only around 10,000 individuals received this status between 2004 and 2016. Naturalization figures are even lower.

However, enforcement has often been lenient in recent decades, as authorities have focused on how cross-border flows might aid China’s development. In line with the overall development focus, border regions and urban areas with high concentrations of immigrants have often developed local legislation and practices for managing migration, most notably for African trader communities in Guangzhou. The city responded by selectively increasing immigration enforcement; this marginalized many Africans, and their numbers subsequently dwindled, from an estimated 80,000 registered African migrants in 2005 to 13,652 in December 2019.

China’s footprint abroad is larger than ever. Emigrants have helped Chinese capital “go out” (zou chuqu) into a range of industries worldwide, including agriculture, mining, and retail. Since 2013, its investment has been boosted by the Belt and Road Initiative; backed by government financing, state-owned enterprises and companies have built ports, power stations, roads, skyscrapers, and other buildings around the world. In Africa official sources report there were nearly 183,000 Chinese workers in 2019 (precise data are lacking, but the total number of Chinese migrants in Africa is commonly estimated to be around 1 million), many of them working as project managers and technicians.

Recent years have also seen a rise of foreign-born spouses moving to China, highlighting a gender imbalance that is largely a product of years of family-planning policies and associated gender-selective abortions. Rural and poor men can have a difficult time finding suitable Chinese partners, creating a demand for wives from Southeast Asia and, to a lesser extent, Russia, which in turn has led to trafficking of women. The gender imbalance and marriage-related expenses are also a major driver for men to work abroad.

Surveys show that anti-immigration sentiments became more pronounced in the 2010s compared to the previous decade, but most Chinese citizens nonetheless support maintaining or increasing immigration. However, some issues have resonated among portions of the Chinese public wary of immigration, who in some cases have demanded firmer, more selective policies. A 2020 draft law that would have expanded permanent residency rights for high-income immigrants stirred up a torrent of criticism. Authorities responded by swiftly shelving the law. For the same reason, media censorship of some migration-related topics has also increased in recent years.

The Xi Jinping administration has further prioritized the return of Chinese emigrants with foreign degrees, dubbed “sea turtles” (haigui), in a Chinese pun on “return” (haigui), as well as students and professionals of Chinese descent. Since the early 2000s, the Chinese government has invested sizable resources to woo Chinese-born graduates in finance, science, and technology to limit brain drain. This became easier after the 2008 financial crisis, when tighter job markets in Europe and North America made China’s professional opportunities relatively more attractive for many. Return rates of Chinese students abroad have consistently increased since then, with around 80 percent returning between 2016 and 2019.

Improving domestic economic opportunities may lead to a plateauing of some types of emigration, such as student migration. Chinese emigrants increasingly see their time abroad as a temporary phase before the next stage of life back in China. In addition, overall outward mobility will likely continue to grow as more Chinese nationals are able to afford international travel.

The growth of the domestic workforce-age population peaked in 2000. it remains unclear to what extent China will embrace foreign workers to mitigate looming domestic demographic challenges. Replacing the shortfalls of low birthrates with immigrants would require a major change in the public conception of the Chinese nation, which has often been defined in ethnic terms. However, given the twists and turns in international mobility to and from the country over the last century, pragmatic shifts remain possible.

Why have immigration? David Miller on immigration policy

Miller’s “Strangers in Our Midst” (2015) is the Oxford University professor’s latest work on immigration policy from the perspective of political philosophy. He says that immigration policy is more than “weighing up economic gains and losses or protecting human rights, it also raises difficult questions about the way we understand ourselves as members of political communities with long histories and rich cultures.”

I’m going to try to summarize how Miller thinks immigration policy should be designed – that is, primarily as an expression of political values. He says that for a liberal democracy, immigration policy should by guided by four values (pg. 157):

Cosmopolitanism: should we consider all the world’s people as fundamentally equal, with equal rights of movement, residence and social and political rights? Miller says in contrast with universal equality, members of a society have obligations to each other that need to be recognized and fulfilled otherwise the nation state can’t be preserved. He calls these “associative obligations.” He calls this “weak cosmopolitanism.”

National self-determination: the democratic nation state must provide immigrants substantially equal rights and protections of native-born citizens, including access to citizenship, but can limit immigration in order to preserve internal mutual trust and true self-determination. Separate and exclusive cultural identities can erode self-determination in is view.

Fairness: He seems to say that a democratic nation state must adhere unconditionally to its principles of distributive justice and reciprocity of obligations between the state and individuals, regardless of citizenship status (or even legal right to be in the country).

Social integration: Miller’s fourth value is to me an attribute of national self-determination.

He thinks of refugees as a unique class. States have a “remedial obligation” to admit them because their states do not ensure human rights (pg. 92). States have a duty of care to make sure they do not have to return to their country of origin (pg. 78).

(This post was originally made in 2016.)

Californian economy and immigrants

I posted this entry in March 2009. The situation probably has changed little since then. ChatGPT tells me that in 2021, the percentage of the Californian workforce that is foreign-born is around 27%, higher than the national average of around 17%.

The post:

The Immigration Policy Center [link broken] writes that foreign born workers complement, rather than compete, with American – born workers, their net effect is to push general wages up by 4%.

The 2008 purchasing power of California’s Latinos ($249 billion) and Asians ($162.8 billion) is the highest of any state in the nation. Together, Latinos and Asians account for roughly 30% of the state’s total consumer purchasing power. Since 1990, the purchasing power of Latinos in California has increased by 258%, and the purchasing power of Asians by 272%, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia.

“During 1990–2004, immigration induced a 4 percent real wage increase for the average native worker,” according to a 2007 study by economist Giovanni Peri of the University of California, Davis. The reason for wage increases is that “immigrant workers often serve as complements to native workers rather than as their direct competitors for jobs, thereby increasing total economic output. Native workers benefit because they are able to specialize in more productive work.”

A study by demographer Dowell Myers of the University of Southern California found that:

The share of California’s foreign-born Latinos who reported being proficient in English as of 2000 rose from 33.4% of those who had been in the United States for less than 10 years to 73.5% among those who had been here for 30 years or longer. [These proficiency rates have gone up. In 2019, roughly 90% of Latinos 25 years or older were proficient in English.]

The share of immigrants in Los Angeles County who owned their own homes as of 2005-06 rose from 14.8% of those who had come to the United States within the previous 10 years to 63.4% of those who had lived here for more than 30 years—compared to a homeownership rate of 54.2% among the native-born, according to a study by Manuel Pastor and Rhonda Ortiz at the University of Southern California.

The Latino share of California’s population grew from 25.8% in 1990, to 32.4% in 2000, to 36.2% in 2007. [ChatGPT for 2021: 39%]  The Asian share of the population grew from 9.2% in 1990, to 10.9% in 2000, to 12.3% in 2007. [ChatGPT for 2021: 15%].

China, India, U.S. workforce size trends

China has joined the high income countries in the flattening out of its working age populaiton (16-64 years).

Yi Fuxian wrote in Project Syndicate, “Even though everyone knows that China’s official demographic figures are systematically overestimated, the authorities have consistently cracked down on anyone who questions the data.” She estimates the India overtook China in total population in 2014, and China’s population began to decline in 2018. China did not replace its one-child policy with a selective two-child policy until 2014, before enacting a universal two-child policy in 2016.

Here is more information: China’s total fertility rate (births per woman) was 2.6 in the late 1980s – well above the 2.1 needed to replace deaths. It has been between 1.6 and 1.7 since 1994, and slipped to 1.3 in 2020 and just 1.15 in 2021.

Below is a graph showing the working age population ages 16-64, from 1990 through 2020. for China, India, and all high income countries. (These graphs are from here.)

Here is the working age population of the U.S. and Euro. By the way, the Congressional Budget Office estimates growth of the U.S. population entirely due to immigration. Note that the U..S./Euro share of total high income countries has gone down.

Here is a picture of the world’s total working age population.

And, here is the demographic crisis in Japan and Korea

India’s fertility rate is moved to below replacement. This means that in several decades it working age population will flatten out.


Labor shortages have benefited low wage immigrant workers


The average wage of hourly workers, which rose prior to the pandemic, rose by 20% between 2020 and January 2023, reflecting labor shortages in an economy flush with money. The average wage of restaurant workers is over $15. This has benefited low wage immigrant workers.

The Wall Street Journal reports “U.S. Business Owners Pay Premium to Hire Migrant Workers in Extremely Tight Labor Market Employers, struggling to fill hourly wage jobs in construction, restaurants and other services, are offering higher pay and better working conditions to people coming to the U.S. to work; ‘The scarcity is huge’ “

An indication of the increased earning of immigrant workers is that remittances to Latin America grew more than 9% in 2022 to $142 billion.

Migrant construction laborers in the Washington area made on average $120 a day before the pandemic. That has since risen more than 60% to about $200 a day, said Lenin Cálix, an Ecuadorean migrant who belongs to the United Workers of Washington D.C., which provides training and legal support and aims to ensure newly arrived migrants aren’t paid below market rates. Hourly pay for all U.S. construction workers has risen about 15% since late 2019, according to the Labor Department.

Here is a GAO study done in 2020 about strains on the temporary non-agriculture worker visa, designed for manual labor.


A summary of Biden’s views on immigration

In his February 7 State of the Union address, Biden mentioned in passing his immigration bill.

In early 2021, Biden released a proposal for comprehensive reform, U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, which was summarized by the NY Times” “It would allow virtually all undocumented immigrants to eventually apply for citizenship; increase legal immigration; add measures to secure ports of entry and speed processing of asylum seekers; and invest $4 billion in the economies of Central American countries to reduce migration.” Go here for a text of the bill. The White House’s summary of the bill is here.

I wrote about the bill here:  The highlight of the bill is legalization of substantially all unauthorized persons in the country as of 1/1/21. It does not appear to significantly alter the design of the country’s visa system except for normalization, through temporary legal status, of the state of unauthorized persons. It does not create a workforce assessment function; Washington will remain without a capacity to assess how present and future immigration will impact the economy. The bill requires that “DHS and the Department of Labor establish a commission involving labor, employer, and civil rights organizations to make recommendations for improving the employment verification process.”

Here is a summary of how several bills submitted in 2021 would affect the legal states of unauthorized persons.  Here is a summary of Biden’s actions on immigration, including a goal to increase the number of Green Cards above the pre-Trump prevailing level of one million.


College enrollment: foreign students down, and Hispanics up

Foreign college enrollment rose from 150,000 in 1975, took off in the 2000s, peaked in 2017/18 at over one million, and has since declined. Analyses don’t take into account that globally college study in most countries has surged in the past two decades.

During the 2010s, Hispanic college enrollment went from 16% to 22% of total college enrollment.  This trend is in line with the social and economic advancement of Hispanics, which I have chronicled here and here.

From Higher Education Today


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.