Compensation for Immigration
By Bryan Caplan
I’ve previously argued that if you’re worried about the effect of immigration on the wages of low-skilled Americans, reducing immigration is overkill. It is more efficient and humane to simply impose a surtax on immigrants, and use the revenue to compensate low-skilled Americans.
Giovanni Peri, today’s Public Choice seminar speaker, just suggested an even simpler way to deal with the distributional effects of immigration: Raise the quota on high-skilled work permits to maintain a constant ratio of high- and low-skilled labor. Since we have a massive queue of high-skilled workers who want to enter the U.S. labor force, it would be easy to stabilize the national balance of skills without cutting back on low-skilled immigrants – or kicking out the ones who are already here.
Since economics are clear, let’s talk about the politics. Is Peri’s proposal any more politically viable than an immigrant surtax? Or are both equally hopeless in the face of the public’s anti-foreign bias?