Archive for the ‘Demographics’ Category

Look who wins the Nobel Prizes and MacArthur Fellowships

Tuesday, July 7th, 2020

In 2019 four of eight Nobel Prize winners from the United States were foreign-born individuals. Eleven of 14 Nobel Prize winners in 2019 have been associated with a U.S. institution of higher education at some point in their lives. Throughout the history of the Nobel Prize, 143 immigrants to the United States have won a Nobel Prize and were 34% of all U.S. winners.

In 2019, six of the 26 MacArthur Fellows are foreign born and, since 1981, 226 of 1,040 total MacArthur Fellows (22%) were born outside of the United States.

From here.

Look closely at the actual trends in immigration….

Wednesday, July 1st, 2020

Absence of a real dialog in Washington about immigration policy makes it difficult to lay out policy proposals for resolving persistent problems. (Both parties are at fault.) But let’s look at the trends. In sum, there has been and continues to be a gradual ameliorization of the status of immigrants, notwithstanding the thunder and lightning.

This improvement in status is marked in the dramatic increase in the eligible voters who are naturalized citizens, from 12  million in 2000 to 23 million in 2020.

Green card issuance has remained steady at about one million per year. (Here, here. and here). Naturalization has been happening at about 800,000 a year.

Immigration law enforcement has improved in last 10 years. After decades of poor enforcement, in the past ten years performance has improved – under both Obama and Trump.

The United States has by far the largest unauthorized population in the world. Some 3% of the population is unauthorized, compared to about ¼ of one percent for other advanced countries. This population leveled off during the 2008 Recession and is now down 10% to about 10.5 million. Enforcement increased during under Obama. Trump would like to claim credit.

More active enforcement is shown in higher court cases and deportations over ten years.

The skill level of immigrants has increased in last 10-15 years. During 1970s- late 2000s, immigration was hourglass-like – some highly skilled, few middle-skilled, many with little formal education. As I have noted before, American businesses (farming, meatpacking, textiles) were the primary immediate beneficiaries of the migration of those with little education, which surged early 1990s – mid- 2000s. Since about 2000, recent migration has been increasingly educated.

For instance, 72% of Indian immigrants have at least a B.A. The size of the Indian immigrant population rose from 450,00o in 1990, to 1 million in 2000 to 2.4 million in 2015, and is undoubtedly more now.

Housecleaning workers in America

Saturday, June 27th, 2020

Computer engineers and physician workforces in the United States would fall into severe shortages without foreign-born workers. That is also the case with housecleaners. Housecleaning is a good example of a personal service that Americans want done and for which the supply of labor is inflenced if not dominated by foreign-born workers with few job options. Most would not qualify for a green card today per Trump administration rules. 

There are about 350,000 full time housecleaners in America. Half of them are foreign-born non-citizens, which is far more than their 8% share of total employment in the U.S. About 3% of female non-citizen workers are housecleaners, compared to one third of one percent of all other female workers.

Housecleaners make about $12 an hour. 39% of housecleaners did not graduate from high school. While about half of all workers get health insurance through their employer, but only 7% of housecleaners do. 17% of all workers earn below 200% of the poverty level; 55% of housecleaners do. Earning under the 200% of poverty level generally indicates that with the “public charge” rule changes earlier this year would place the person at risk of being a public charge. See this recent post on low income households and federal supports.

Mostly from the Economic Priorities Institute, here.Also here.

Making sense of the latest immigration order

Wednesday, June 24th, 2020

This is how we, in a country with by far the largest foreign-born population in absolute numbers and share, go about making immigration policy.

On June 22 the administration continued and expanded until year end a halt on some of the most important classes of temporary visas, effective today (June 24). What to make of this?

The United States is the only country that has used the pandemic to restrict immigration expressly on economic, rather than public health, grounds.

The earlier April 22 order stopped some green card processing, on the grounds that green cards bring in people who compete with American citizens for jobs. The order is not backed up with any analysis. This order may have shut down over 300,000 green cards from being issued in the next 12 months, compared to about one million green cards issued in each recent years.

The June 22 order targets temporary visas, such as H-1Bs. Today the Wall Street Journal wrote, “….the vast majority of H-1Bs—which are capped at 85,000 a year—are for computer programming. The unemployment rate for these occupations was 2.5% in May compared to 13.3% for the entire economy. The Labor Department’s JOLTS survey found 122,000 information industry job openings in April, slightly more than the year before.”

Two things worth noting.

The executive branch can make up the facts and assessments as it goes along. No agency of the Executive Branch or the Congress is tasked to provide on-going assessment of the impact of immigration on labor markets. This has applied to every past administration.

And, Trump is following on with Obama’s immigration policy-making, which is to use executive orders to make sweeping changes in policy that should be in the scope of Congress.

Congress was paralyzed over immigration policy during the first two decades of the 21st century. At least three bipartisan efforts in the Senate, including in 2007, 2013 and 2017, failed. Especially after 2010, the politics of immigration became polarized.

Crisis in college STEM enrollment

Sunday, June 21st, 2020

Are the finances of high ed STEM education unraveling? The pandemic and Trump’s hostile approach to immigration are combining to threaten the sustainability of STEM departments at American universities. All of a sudden, it has become clear that globalization meant the U.S. serving as a factory for STEM talent for the world.

As of 2017, 81% of full-time graduate students in electrical and petroleum engineering programs at U.S. universities are international students, and 79% in computer science are. National Foundation for American Policy report in 2017 said that “both majors and graduate programs could not be maintained without international students.” It further argued that “the increase in both the size and number of graduate programs in science and engineering at U.S. universities indicates U.S. student enrollment has not been held down by the lack of available slots at U.S. graduate schools.” (From Inside Higher Ed, here.)

Foreign students overall are cash cows, as the table below shows. (From here.) This shows the net tuitions and fees of full-time undergraduates to public higher ed, after scholarships and other financial aid.


Asian American voters on a rapid rise

Wednesday, June 10th, 2020

Between 2000 and 2018 the number of Asian immigrant eligible voters doubled from 3.3 million to 6.9 million. Asian Americans are projected to make up 4.7% of U.S. eligible voters in 2020. (Go here).

Asian Americans used to be split between Democratic and Republican, back in 2000, roughly 55% Dem / 45% Rep. Since then affiliation with Dems soared, to 77% vs 17%. What happened? Possibly two things. One is that the voting eligible Asian-Americans, who are much better educated than the country overall (50% have at least a college degree), probably swung with higher educated people towards the Dems. Second, voting eligible Asian Americans are more female – 54% / 46% — and women tend to be more Dem. These trends are sharply shown by a 65% / 30% preference for Dems among college educated women. (Go here.)

Only in Hawaii do Asian Americans account for a larger share of eligible voters than any racial or ethnic group. They make up 38% of the state’s eligible voters, by far the highest share in the country. California has the next highest share with 14%. Among Asian American origin groups, U.S. Indian eligible voters ($139,000) have the highest median household income, while Burmese Americans ($69,000) have the lowest. (84% Indian immigrants speak English well, vs 49% of Burmese immogrants.)


Racial intermariage trends

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020

Between 1980 and 2015, the share who married someone of a different race or ethnicity more than tripled from 5% to 18%. As of 2015, 39% of U.S.-born Hispanic newlyweds and almost half (46%) of U.S.-born Asian newlyweds had a spouse of a different race or ethnicity. (Go here.)

As of 2020, Among married Millennials (1981-1996), 8% of whites are married to someone of a different race or ethnicity. The shares are higher among Hispanic (19%), black (18%) and Asian (16%) Millennials. Intermarriage rates are higher for Millennials than for Gen Xers (1965- 1980) across all racial and ethnic groups. (Go here).

Census Bureau note dated 2018 here.

Popular misperceptions about immigration

Wednesday, May 27th, 2020

I’m reposting from 2018 – Some striking misperceptions in six countries about immigrants (U.S. Germany, France, Italy, U.K. and Sweden):

In five of the six countries, the average native believed that there are between two and three times as many immigrants as there are in reality.

Natives also got the origins of immigrants wrong. They particularly overestimated the shares of immigrants coming from regions that have recently been described as ‘problematic’ in the media. In the US, respondents thought the share of Muslim immigrants was 23% when in reality it is 10%.

In all countries, immigrants were viewed as poorer, less educated, and more likely to be unemployed than is the case. For instance, US natives believed that 35% of immigrants lived below the poverty line, while the real number is less than 14%. Natives also believed that immigrants relied heavily on the welfare state, with roughly one-third of all US, Italian, and French respondents, and one-fifth of all UK and German respondents, believing that an immigrant would receive more benefits than a native, even if both had exactly same income, family structure, age, and occupation.

Respondents in all countries also greatly exaggerated the share of immigrants among the poor or the low-educated. For example, US respondents thought that 37% of the poor were immigrants; the true number is 12%.

From here.

Why the anti-migration sentiment in Eastern Europe

Monday, May 25th, 2020

Branko Milanovic ponders “There are, in my opinion, two considerations that are almost never taken into account when the reluctance, or outright refusal, of East European countries to accept African and Asian migrants, many of them Islamic, is discussed. They are the history of these countries over the past two centuries, and the nature of the 1989 revolutions.”

He says “1989 revolutions should be, seen as revolutions of national emancipation, simply as a latest unfolding of centuries-long struggle for freedom, and not as democratic revolutions per se, the attitudes toward migration and the so-called European values become fully intelligible.”

Consider Poland that in 1939 consisted of 66% of Poles, 17% of Ukrainians and Belorussians, almost 10% of Jews and 3% of Germans. As a result of the Second World War and the Holocaust and then the westward movement of Polish borders (combined with the expulsion of German minority), in 1945 Poland became 99% Catholic and Polish. It fell under the sway of the Soviet Union but since 1989 it was both free and ethnically compact.

In fact, if we define the national ideals as (a) zero ethnic members outside country’s borders and (b) zero members of other ethnic groups within the borders, Poland, Czech republic, Slovakia, Slovenia and Greece (total population of almost 70 million) fulfill these two criteria almost to perfection. Close by come Hungary, Lithuania, Croatia, Serbia, Albania and Kosovo (total population of about 30 million) that fulfill almost fully the criterion (b); Estonia, Latvia, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Romania (about 30 million) satisfy (a), but do have relatively important minorities within their borders. The upshot is that most countries that run from the Baltics to the Balkans have today almost entirely homogeneous populations within their borders, i.e. they satisfy either both (a) and (b), or (a) alone.

Also see here.

The unheralded rise of immigrant worker status since 2000

Wednesday, May 20th, 2020

Compared to 2000, the foreign-born workforce today is a greater share of the total workforce (from 12.7% to 17.4%), is much better educated, and has narrowed the gap with native American wages.

These trends affect American society more than is understand by the established media. I believe this rise plays a role in white “distress.” The immigrant population has gained on whites in social and economic status.

The rise is driven in part by the role of foreign-born workers in the American information technology industry and medicine; by increasing migration from Asia, and by leveling off of net immigration from Latin America (although recent Hispanic immigrants are much better educated than in the past).

The foreign/native worker disparity in median wages narrowed 2000 to 2019, from 29% lower to 15% lower (males):

The share of all foreign-born with less than a high school degree declined from 33% to 24% (still very high). The share of those with at least a college degree rose from 26% to 35%. Note the reversal:

Karl Marx said societies (economic and social relations, politics) are led by their most advanced “process of production.” Since 2000, migrating workers have focused more on our most advanced process: knowledge work. Nationwide, one quarter of practicing doctors are foreign born, and 23% of all science and engineering workers are foreign born (40% in California).

Most data for 2000 and 2019. Data on science and engineering here.