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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Consequences of Illegal Immigration and What To Do

                                Introductory Comments

Immigration and US Educational Performance 

Here's a set of comments that prof bug left earlier today at a good libertarian site, The Marginal Revolution, about the variation in American educational performance, viewed comparatively, in international exams --- especially the PISA for 15 year olds administered every three years in science and math --- across 30 industrial countries and several others not in the OECD. 

Remember, prof bug is not a libertarian and has criticized its transformation of free-market capitalism into an all-encompassing ideology.  As today's comments will show, he is severely critical of this view even though he is equally hard on politically correct radical/liberal ideology. 

The subject?  Illegal immigration out of Mexico and Central America, and to an extent even legal immigration from that region . . . which is, in his view, laying the base of a new, ever larger underclass of poorly educated people, with to boot (as marks an underclass) 50% now of Hispanic births illegitimate and all the expected consequences in gang-banging, violence, and hatred of women that follow from single mother-headed, poorly educated families.

What To Do about Illegal Immigration? 

We have as a country benefitted enormously from it in the past . . . including in the 19th and very early 20th century poorly educated immigrants out of Europe (and to an extent Pacific Asia) when the US had a labor shortage and tens of millions entered here freely . . . as did, observe, several hundred thousand African Americans who came here out of the Caribbean islands then and later.  Since then, our economy has been drastically transformed.  In particular, as we have shifted from an industrial manufacturing country ---40% of the US labor force in mfg. industry in 1950 and now about 9% ---to a knowledge-based economy in which at a minimum a good high-school diploma is needed for a half-way decent job, and the gap between college-educated and other Americans grows ever larger, we clearly require a far different kind of immigration policy that takes into account the ever greater need for a well-educated work-force.  It's no giant intellectual challenge.  Our neighbor to the north, Canada, has been using a skill-based immigration quota policy for decades now, without any harm to their educational standards.

No, Not a Perfect Policy, Canada's

We can do even better.  It's a matter of adjusting all legal immigration to skill-based needs, whether the qualifying immigrants are out of Latin America, Asia, Europe, or the Middle East.  As for illegal immigration, fortunately --- for the time being --- the thrust in all political circles has been to toughen up border controls and, if we're lucky, to penalize firms that hire them.

    The Marginal Revolution Post by Its Head: Tyler Cowan, a Professor of Economics at George Mason

The subtitle of this excellent book, by Daniel Koretz, is What Educational Testing Really Tells Us.  Here is one excerpt:

"The distressingly large achievement differences among racial/ethnic groups and socioeconomic groups in the United States lead many people to assume that American students must vary more in educational performance than others.  Some observers have even said that the horse race -- simple comparisons of mean scores among countries -- is misleading for this reason.  The international studies address this question, albeit with one caveat: the estimation of variability in the international surveys is much weaker than the estimation of averages."

". . .We are limited to more general conclusions, along the lines of "the standard deviations in the United States and Japan are quite similar." 

Which they are.  In fact, the variability of student performance is fairly similar across most countries, regardless of size, culture, economic development, and average student performance. I was shocked to read this but the book is highly reputable and persuasive.

                                  Here Is Prof Bug's Reply

Note That It Begins with a Quoted Paragraph from Another Blogger

The quoted remarks that follow refer to the latest PISA study (2006), which is administered every three years by the OECD to 15 year old students in all 30 OECD countries, plus several others that participate.  The study assesses student knowledge and performance in science and mathematics on several categories.  American 15 year-old students tend, on balance, to score somewhat below the average level for all the participating countries, but the performance of our students varies markedly across ethnic/racial divisions, and those differences entail all sorts of debates, and especially two: the controversy over immigration --- largely out of Mexico and  the poor Central American countries --- and the IQ contrversy and what factors (genetic and social) explain the large differences in IQ between European- and Asian-Americans on one side and Hispanic- and black-Americans on the other.

We won't enter into the IQ controversy here, though --- for what it's worth noting --- prof bug has delved into it in the past.  The rapidly growing Hiispanic population in the US is, to repeat, the focus of our current interest.  Here is a summary by the quoted poster (referring to an earlier post in the Marginal Revolution thread by prof bug) of the ethnic/racial differences in the PISA exam of 2006:

"The word "diversity" can mean a lot of things. What really matters is that Canada has higher median human capital than America. Canada has very little illegal immigration and thus practically no Mexicans, and is only about 2% black. It's system of legal immigration is explicitly designed to benefit current Canadian citizens by carefully selecting those applicants with the highest human capital. I, for example, took the Canadian immigration online assessment in 2001 for an article I was writing and failed to score high enough to qualify for an interview with a Canadian immigration official. (Their opinion was that they had plenty of journalists already, thank you very much, don't call us, we'll call you.)

"Here's the executive summary of the latest PISA report from the federal National Center for Educational Statistics on U.S. performance:

" 'In the combined science literacy scale, Black(non-Hispanic) students (409) and Hispanic
students (439) scored lower, on average, thanWhite (non-Hispanic) students (523), Asian (non-Hispanic) students (499), and students of morethan one race (non-Hispanic) (501)."

[The OECD average is set to 500.]' " --- Steve Sailer

Observe, in passing, that the buggy prof had posted earlier there the link to the latest PISA exam results (2006)

                                       Prof Bug's Own Comments:


That's a good post, Steve, full of solid information . . . along with the useful link to the NCES report.

It does lead to an important query: why do libertarians and generally free-market-enthusiasts on one side and politically correct radicals of all sorts on the left side of the political spectrum (except for African-American studies profs) continue to support a policy of either unlimited illegal immigration mainly out of Mexico and Central America or an amnesty with a promise by the government once more for legalizing their status?

Ideological Zeal at Two Ends of the Political Spectrum

The reasons the two sides of the ideological spectrum support such illegal immigration --- never mind lopsided legal immigration out of the poorer Latin American countries --- do differ, obviously. No matter. Both sides, along with powerful interest groups, continue to favor policies that are creating the basis of a new, ever larger ethnic-based underclass. As for educational performance, the response from the radical and liberal left is the same mantra as in the past: not enough money spent in the poorer performing school areas. Yet the only study ever produced by the US Dept of Education (1990, I believe) showed an insignificant difference in, say, the amount of money spent on wholly or overwhelmingly white-attended schools and wholly or overwhelmingly black-attended ones. (There were further sub-divisions according to mixed race/ethnic schools, with similar correlations found.) And the experiments carried out --- lavish sums spent in Kansas City, Mo in the 1990s --- showed no noticeable improvement in school performance whatsoever.

Los Angeles as a Harbinger

In the L.A. public school system, 60% or so of Hispanic students do not graduate from high school . . . a figure higher than the equivalent for black students (about 55%). At the same time, gang fights and other racially inspired attacks on a large scale are occurring in black-Hispanic schools . . . as happened recently in L.A., where nearly a thousand students were involved (I believe) in the melee. That happens to be a school where only 3% of the small number of graduates go on to college.

More Generally, Strains to the Social Fabric

Enter, as just indicated, the strains on the social fabric of local communities thanks to higher and higher numbers of illegal (and to an extent legal) Hispanic immigrants. There's the huge resource-strain in L.A.'s public clinics, hospitals, and ER everywhere.

Then there's violent crime. In Santa Barbara where I live, Hispanic gangs have mushroomed in size and violence, with three killings in the last year . . . not to mention other killings and armed robberies that did not exist 15 years ago. And of course there is the continued increase in the supply of poorly educated workers who, while keeping the wages down in restaurants, hotels, sweat-labor shops, and farming, have --- with indifference by libertarians (who hail it as a big gain in labor efficiency --- left other potential workers in those industries with little interest in pursuing jobs there, even though they might have lost better paying jobs owing to factors way beyond their control: such as massive technological changes and the ever greater pace of globalizing influences.

How much exactly would wages rise in those industries if the ever larger pool of poorer immigrants workers was shut off? And would the impact on the US average living standard --- or on well-to-do Americans who travel and stay in hotels and eat out in restaurants beyond the level of MacDonald's --- even remotely approach the shock, say, of ever higher gas-prices.  The latter, of course, a market-outcome (with a little help, no? from a cartel); and hence not criticized by libertarians and free-market enthusiasts.

Yet we're told by the radical and liberal left: it's racism to start shifting toward a Canadian based immigration system, with those who have lost better paying jobs taking refuge, a la Obama's views, in guns, cars, and religion. And on the right libertarian and free-market side: hey, that's life, markets always produce optimal results unless interfered with by government regulations or distributional policies, and go get re-trained, re-educated, and pick up and move to a distant community, guys!

I wonder how many tenured professors in their late 40's, 50's, and early 60's would like to emulate the advice?

The Consequnces for Republicans

Small wonder, on the conservative side of the spectrum, the Republican Party is increasingly being abandoned as an out-of-date, unresponsive, uncaring coalition of libetarians, well-to-do evangelicals (middle class people generally), and free-market enthusiasts.

Believe it or not, neo-conservativism was a tag originally applied to former liberals who --- alarmed by the trends of the late 1960's and LBJ's new welfare policies --- formed the most influential policy-oriented journal in US history, THE PUBLIC INTEREST. And what distinguished them from paleo-conservatives and libertarians was their emphasis on the need for a decent if limited welfare-state and on cultural and community interests . . . all at odds with the libertarian and free-market stress on self-interested, atomistically viewed individuals pursuing their interests within the framework of a market. (Only later, in the 1980s, did a journal spinoff THE NATIONAL INTEREST emerge as part of the Reagan administration's shift toward a more aggressive form of a active and militarized diplomacy against the Soviet Union and its communist empire . . . practiced with remarkable flexibility by Ronald Reagan himself.