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Immigration

Projections for the Evolution of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population in the United States

PWBM projects the number of unauthorized immigrants to fall from a peak of 4 percent of the U.S. population in 2007 to under 2.5 percent in 2050. In recent years, fewer unauthorized immigrants have arrived from Mexico while more have arrived from Central America. PWBM projects that future growth of the population of unauthorized immigrants will be driven by visa overstays.

Projections for the Evolution of Naturalized Citizens in the United States

PWBM projects that by 2050 one in ten U.S. citizens will be foreign-born, up from 7 percent today. We account for different historical naturalization patterns of immigrants from different countries, including the time immigrants reside in the U.S. Thus, this increase reflects shifts in the origins of lawful immigrants. In particular, we project that the shift away from immigrants arriving from Mexico and toward immigrants arriving from Asia to continue.

The Effects of Changes to Immigration Policy on the United States’ Population

We project that increasing annual net legal immigration leads to a younger and more educated U.S. population. These population changes are likely to have a positive impact on entitlement finances and tax burdens relative to current policy. In contrast, decreasing annual net legal immigration likely has the opposite effects.

2020 Presidential Campaign Proposals for Immigration Policy: Indicators of the Economic Impact on Each State

Introducing PWBM’s Interactive 2020 Campaign Issue State Maps. We use data to inform people about the impact of campaign proposals on their states. Here we present six indicators focused on immigration policy for each state. Although PWBM has shown that increasing immigration boosts economic growth for the U.S. as a whole, these indicators imply that the impact of changes to immigration policy on a state will depend on the demographics of that state.

Immigration Policy: 2020 Presidential Campaign State-Level Economic Indicator Map

Use data to get information about the impact of campaign proposals on states. Examine six indicators focused on immigration policy for each state. See the percent of the population that is foreign-born, the percent of the foreign-born population with a bachelor’s or advanced degree compared with the percent of the native-born with a bachelor’s or advanced degree, the old-age dependency ratio, the child dependency ratio, and percent of the foreign-born population that is unauthorized for the U.S. and each state.

Why Are Recent Immigrants Better-Educated Than Ever Before?

In a previous blog post, I described two significant changes in the characteristics of newly arriving immigrants (legal and unauthorized) to the U.S. between 1997 and 2017. First, the share of recent immigrants aged 25 and older who had bachelor’s or advanced degrees rose from 30 percent to 48 percent. Second, the origins of new immigrants to the U.S. shifted dramatically, as immigration from Mexico and Europe declined in importance while immigration from Asia and Africa grew. In this post, I examine the relationship between these two changes.

Recent Immigrants Are Better-Educated Than Ever Before

From 1997 to 2007, a newly arrived adult immigrant to the United States was about as likely to have a college degree as to have not finished high school. During that period, each group accounted for about one third of new arrivals (including both legal and unauthorized immigrants). Over the decade since 2007, those odds changed dramatically. The share of recent immigrants with a college degree grew by nearly 50 percent, while the share without a high school degree fell by a similar proportion (see Figure 1). By 2017, a recently arrived immigrant was almost three times as likely to have a college degree as to have not finished high school.

The RAISE Act: Effect on Economic Growth and Jobs

The RAISE Act:  Effect on Economic Growth and Jobs
  • The RAISE Act, a bill recently introduced by Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue and endorsed by President Trump on Aug 2, 2017, would reduce legal immigration while increasing the portion of new legal immigrants that are highly skilled.
  • By 2027, our analysis projects that RAISE will reduce GDP by 0.7 percent relative to current law, and reduce jobs by 1.3 million. By 2040, GDP will be about 2 percent lower and jobs will fall by 4.6 million.
  • Despite changes to population size, jobs and GDP, there is very little change to per capita GDP, increasing slightly in the short run and then eventually falling.

The Penn Wharton Budget Model’s Immigration Policy Simulator

The Penn Wharton Budget Model’s Immigration Policy Simulator

Click Here for Interactive Simulation

Click Here for a Video Demonstration of the Simulator

  • The Penn Wharton Budget Model’s Immigration Policy Simulator allows users to see the results of three policy options and combinations of those options, for a total of 125 policy combinations. Policies can be simulated on a standard static basis or on a dynamic basis that includes macroeconomic feedback effects.
  • Shifting the mix of legal immigrants toward college graduates has little impact on employment and only slightly increases GDP. Legalization of undocumented workers slightly reduces employment and has a negligible impact on GDP. Deportations, however, substantially reduce both employment and GDP.
  • The largest positive impact on employment and GDP comes from increasing the net flow of immigrants.

Population Aging

Population Aging
  • As in many of the world’s developed nations, America is undergoing a momentous increase in the share of older individuals in the population, or “population aging.”

  • Population aging will continue throughout this century because of baby-boomer retirements, longer lifespans due to declining mortality, and fewer newborns from reduced fertility.

  • Sustained population aging will pose a significant fiscal challenge: How best to provide funding for adequately supporting older generations’ consumption and health care.

The Effects of Immigration on the United States’ Economy

The Effects of Immigration on the United States’ Economy
  • While some policymakers have blamed immigration for slowing U.S. wage growth since the 1970s, most academic research finds little long run effect on Americans’ wages.

  • The available evidence suggests that immigration leads to more innovation, a better educated workforce, greater occupational specialization, better matching of skills with jobs, and higher overall economic productivity.

  • Immigration also has a net positive effect on combined federal, state, and local budgets. But not all taxpayers benefit equally. In regions with large populations of less educated, low-income immigrants, native-born residents bear significant net costs due to immigrants’ use of public services, especially education.