Towards A Good Samaritan World

Friday, July 08, 2005

Thanks to intermittent commenter Strophyx for linking me to this post from Don Boudreaux on the benefits of immigration. Boudreaux argues that children are beneficial to society:

More people in a free society mean more creativity, more discovery, more problem-solving, more effort, and a deeper and more productive division of labor. In short, more people in a free society mean more resources and higher living standards.

But that there is a "market failure" in that parents bear all the costs of childrearing while the benefits are diffuse. But immigrants have larger families than citizens. So he writes:

Speaking as someone who knowingly behaves selfishly – I have only one child and plan to have no more – I offer special thanks and praise to immigrants who not only work especially hard here in America but who also are creating and rearing ‘ultimate resources’ that will benefits us all enormously when they reach adulthood.

To make this more concrete, immigrants right now are buoying housing prices and holding down inflation. Tens of millions of Americans have (in part) immigrants to thank for large capital gains on their homes. And we have immigrants to thank that the Fed has been able to keep interest rates rather low, rather than having to drive them up in order to fend off the inflation that would be accelerating right now without the cheap labor of immigrants to hold down prices. That's why the idea that immigrants take American jobs is misguided. Rising house prices and lower interest rates help the economy to create jobs, probably about the same amount of jobs that they themselves take, so we're no worse off, and most of us are better off.


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