Why We Need More Immigrants
Shikha Dalmia explains:
Until recently, America had escaped the population decline engulfing Europe and other countries, largely because it has been an attractive destination for immigrants. And their higher fertility rates have compensated for the declining native ones.
But this is no longer the case. According to a Pew Research Center report last month, immigrant births in the United States have fallen in the last five years from 102 to 87.8 per 1,000 women. This has reduced America’s overall birthrate to a mere 64 per 1,000 women—far below replacement levels.
What’s more, source countries are themselves experiencing massive population declines. Even India has seen live births per woman plummet from 6 to 2.5 from 1960 to 2009. Mexico has fallen from 7.3 to 2.4. China is on the verge of a historically unprecedented demographic collapse, thanks to its one-child policy.
All this is bad news for America and other Western countries. It will close off the best—and perhaps the only—chance to avoid the collapse of the retirement welfare state.
Immigrants, unlike children, start working and paying taxes the moment they set foot on American soil, without requiring expensive schooling and health care. They typically come in their peak working years, when they are young and healthy, and hence contribute to Social Security and Medicare for years before collecting. Even as immigrants bestow this windfall, their energy and inventiveness drive economic vitality and growth.
But the intensifying global demand for young workers will make it far more difficult for America to attract immigrants—especially since economic liberalization has opened many attractive opportunities for them at home.
The rational response under these circumstances would be to market America aggressively abroad, much like the army does at home to boost sagging enrollments. America should be soliciting applications from young foreigners, even offering them “immigration packages.”
As Dalmia goes on to explain, “it will be an immigrants’ market soon,” which makes it all the more important that the United States reform its immigration policies to attract smart and talented people who are willing to come to this country, better their lives and those of their family members, and contribute to the betterment of America in the process.