Heaven's Door: Immigration Policy and the American Economy by George J. BorjasHeaven's Door: Immigration Policy and the American Economy by George J. Borjas

Heaven's Door: Immigration Policy and the American Economy

byGeorge J. Borjas

Paperback | April 15, 2001

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The U.S. took in more than a million immigrants per year in the late 1990s, more than at any other time in history. For humanitarian and many other reasons, this may be good news. But as George Borjas shows in Heaven's Door, it's decidedly mixed news for the American economy--and positively bad news for the country's poorest citizens. Widely regarded as the country's leading immigration economist, Borjas presents the most comprehensive, accessible, and up-to-date account yet of the economic impact of recent immigration on America. He reveals that the benefits of immigration have been greatly exaggerated and that, if we allow immigration to continue unabated and unmodified, we are supporting an astonishing transfer of wealth from the poorest people in the country, who are disproportionately minorities, to the richest.


In the course of the book, Borjas carefully analyzes immigrants' skills, national origins, welfare use, economic mobility, and impact on the labor market, and he makes groundbreaking use of new data to trace current trends in ethnic segregation. He also evaluates the implications of the evidence for the type of immigration policy the that U.S. should pursue. Some of his findings are dramatic:


Despite estimates that range into hundreds of billions of dollars, net annual gains from immigration are only about $8 billion.


In dragging down wages, immigration currently shifts about $160 billion per year from workers to employers and users of immigrants' services.


Immigrants today are less skilled than their predecessors, more likely to re-quire public assistance, and far more likely to have children who remain in poor, segregated communities.


Borjas considers the moral arguments against restricting immigration and writes eloquently about his own past as an immigrant from Cuba. But he concludes that in the current economic climate--which is less conducive to mass immigration of unskilled labor than past eras--it would be fair and wise to return immigration to the levels of the 1970s (roughly 500,000 per year) and institute policies to favor more skilled immigrants.

George J. Borjas is the Pforzheimer Professor of Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, and a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He is the author of several books, including Wage Policy in the Federal Bureaucracy, Friends or Strangers: The Impact of Immigrants on the...
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Title:Heaven's Door: Immigration Policy and the American EconomyFormat:PaperbackDimensions:296 pagesPublished:April 15, 2001Publisher:Princeton University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0691088969

ISBN - 13:9780691088969

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Table of Contents

PREFACE xi

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS xv

CHAPTER 1: Reframing the Immigration Debate 3

CHAPTER 2: The Skills of Immigrants 19

CHAPTER 3: National Origin 39

CHAPTER 4: The Labor Market Impact of Immigration 62

CHAPTER 5: The Economic Benefits from Immigration 87

CHAPTER 6: Immigration and the Welfare State 105

CHAPTER 7: Social Mobility across Generations 127

CHAPTER 8: Ethnic Capital 146

CHAPTER 9: Ethnic Ghettos 161

CHAPTER 10: The Goals of Immigration Policy 174

CHAPTER 11: A Proposal for an Immigration Policy 189

CHAPTER 12: Conclusion 211

NOTES 213

INDEX 257

Editorial Reviews

"Borjas is the leading American economist today writing about immigration policy. I do not share all of his views, but they have to be taken seriously by everyone in the field, and indeed his research has shaped the field more than that of any other writer."-John Isbister, University of California, Santa Cruz