Jul 11, 2011

Immigration Reality: Will Large-Scale Illegal Immigration from Mexico Come to an End?

Another analysis of why Mexican emigration is declining, by University of Chicago economics professor Gary Becker

Will Large-Scale Illegal Immigration from Mexico Come to an End? Becker - The Becker-Posner Blog: "The great majority of immigrants all over the world, both legal and illegal, move for economic reasons: to find jobs that pay a lot more than they can earn in their origin countries. For example, the average illegal immigrant in the United States from Mexico appears to earn about three to four times what he would earn in Mexico. This is why virtually all the illegal (and legal) immigration is from poorer to richer countries. Immigration increases when poorer countries are hit by recessions and financial crises, and by internal conflicts that make life there dangerous and more uncertain.

Illegal immigration is especially sensitive to recessions and other causes of weak job markets in richer destination countries. Illegal immigrants are usually the first to be laid off partly because they tend to be unskilled, and unskilled employees are let go in much larger numbers than are skilled employees. In addition, illegal immigrants tend to have low seniority since they are young, and employees with lower seniority are generally fired first when bad times hit.

Laid off illegal immigrants usually do not qualify for unemployment compensation, and other safety net benefits. This is why many illegal immigrants return home after losing their jobs, even though that means they must bear the costs and risks of possible future illegal entry. It also explains why the flow of illegal immigrants to the United States has slowed to a trickle, given the sharp and sustained rise in American unemployment, especially among younger and unskilled workers.

... Other more permanent factors have also been reducing the flow of illegal immigrants from Mexico. One important long-term force is the sharp decline in birth rates in Mexico during the past 30 years. The total fertility rate- that is, the number of children born to the average women over her lifetime- has declined in Mexico from almost 7 children in 1970 to over 3 children in 1990, and to only about 2 children at present. This means that Mexican fertility is now not any higher than American fertility, even though Mexico is much poorer."

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