Immigrant Labor Market Issues
By Arnold Kling
Caitlin Flanagan’s cover story (as of this writing, not yet on line) for the March issue of The Atlantic Monthly is on the crucial role played by female immigrant workers in the “have-it-all” lifestyle of professional women with children.
one of the noblest tenets of second-wave feminism collapsed like a house of cards. The new immigrants were met at the docks not by a highly organized and politically powerful group of American women intent on bettering the lot of their sex but, rather, by an equally large army of educated professional-class women with booming careers who needed their children looked after and their houses cleaned.
…they are deserving of the same wage and hour regulations, the same disability insurance, and the same Social Security set-asides to which all other employees in this country…are entitled.
On the topic of immigrants and the secondary labor market, Randall Parker casts a skeptical eye at the Bush proposal for temporary work permits.
The fallacy underlying the justification for bringing in millions of foreign laborers for low skilled jobs is that there is a labor shortage for some types of jobs. But markets do not have shortages. Markets simply have prices at which supply and demand for various types of jobs will match up and equal…A smaller supply of less skilled workers will cause the price of their labor to rise and companies and individuals will respond by developing and using techniques and equipment that reduce the need for human labor. The market will not only adjust but it will grow as companies speed up their rate of development of labor-saving innovations.
Parker’s main contention is that guest workers and illegal immigrants constitute distinct market segments, rather than close substitutes. Thus, he argues that a guest worker program would not solve the problem of illegal immigration.
For Discussion. If Parker’s proposal were followed and the wages of domestic workers increased, what might Flanagan predict would happen to labor force participation by professional women?