Wages, Welfare, and Elderly Immigration
By Bryan Caplan
Two of the most popular complaints about immigrants:
1. They take our jobs.
2. They’re all on welfare.
There’s a major tension between the two complaints: Are the immigrants stealing jobs, or loafing? Contradictions aside, though, you have to wonder: Which complaint do people take more seriously?
Consider the following graph, reproduced in Kerr and Kerr (2011):
Notice that elderly immigrants are indeed a serious fiscal burden. Why? Because they collect benefits but don’t work or pay taxes. If Americans’ main worry were welfare, then, they’d make it especially hard for the elderly to immigrate. On the other hand, if Americans’ main worry were were the effect of immigrants on wages, they’d treat the elderly more leniently.