O Canada!

Imagine a country with an average IQ of 100, some average amount of education (with some distribution), some average amount of capital per head (with some distribution of ownership of capital). Now add immigrants – 10% of the population – that are the same in every way. Same average IQ, same distribution of IQ, same average amount of capital and same distribution. They speak the same language. They have similar political traditions. In other words, it is as if the US had just peacefully annexed an imaginary country that’s a lot like Canada.

Would the original inhabitants gain economically from this merger? Strikes me that this could only happen from economies of scale – since nothing has changed other than a 10% increase in overall size. There might be some diseconomies of scale as well. I wouldn’t expect a big payoff. Except for Nawapa, of course.

Contrast this with a situation in which the extra 10% is fairly different – lower average IQ, much less education on average, don’t speak English. They don’t bring along a lot of capital. They have and bring along their native political traditions, like everyone, but theirs stink. I can easily see how those immigrants might have improved their economic lot but it’s kindof hard to see how bringing in people with low human capital benefits the original citizens more than bringing in people with considerably higher human capital. Yet it must, because adding more of the same clearly has a small effect, while adding in lower-skilled must have a big positive effect. Practically all the economists say so.

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177 Responses to O Canada!

  1. It is also a cultural matter. I was living in Vancouver when Idi Amin kicked out the Indian traders, en masse, and many moved to Canada, with little more than the clothes on their backs. With the same energetic, enterprising spirit with which they had assumed such a prominent role in the (sickly) Ugandan economy (there was also, as I recall, a mass expulsion from Kenya) they set up small shops, networked and endeavored, and within a few years were prospering mightily, extending into property deals and other areas where their ethnic roots were an advantage rather than a handicap.

    Observing from afar I do not see the same phenomenon occurring with the Muslims arriving in large numbers in Canada’s big cities. I am willing to be corrected in this assumption, but judging from the obvious dynamic in the cities of Europe where you have large enclaves it looks like they will be satisfied with the blessings of Allah ( = the hapless taxpayer), and have no impetus to make any original contribution to the economy or the culture. Large-scale intermarriage has also encouraged a general depression of the intelligence quota.

    In short, as Nassim Nicholas Taleb somewhat uncharitably concludes, ‘Europe is committing suicide’. Will Canada follow suit?

    (And in rebuttal to any charge that this contribution is Islamophobic, I will offer that I have been living pretty much 100% an an Islamic environment since 1988. I get along with them well, and know them well. They are a happy people, extremely comfortable in their matrix of belief and behavior, inculcated from infancy.)

    • teageegeepea says:

      “Middle men” or “market dominant” minorities have at times been Muslim, including in parts of Africa (Thomas Sowell singled out Ismailis as one common group of them). There was a genocide of Arabs in Zanzibar.

    • Frau Katze says:

      Don’t forget Canada has been trying to get immigrants that are either educated and/or have money to invest.

      Now I don’t know what that idiot Boy Trudeau is up to: loads of unvetted Syrians. The young twit like Islam, especially the more radical strains,who’ve been wooing him with great energy.

      I think this is why Canada (and even the US) find their Muslims if not perfect, better than the European ones. The latter are descended from poor peasants in their home country. They don’t appear to value education or even starting small businesses.

      Or course, not all of them fit this, plus most Canadians and Americans came from poor backgrounds in Europe. The elite of Europe did not come here.

      Also, in Canada there are communities of non-Muslim immigrants, so they can’t act like they’re top dog.

      Hard to believe Britain didn’t want the elite of Hong Kong, some of whom were looking to exit after the handover to China. They ended up in Canada, America, Australia and New Zealand. They don’t get in the news very often, unlike the Muslims in France.

      Perhaps it is also true that the new world countries are, in contrast to Europe, better at absorbing immigrants in general.

      • There are also several million Asians in Latinoamerica – mostly Japanese and Chinese whose ancestors emigrated during the tough years of the early 20th Century. They have made great economic and social (if not cultural) contributions to their respective societies.

        During a difficult time in Brazil in the 1970s quite a number of sansei headed to Japan where they were legally entitled to live and work. They came up against the mammoth xenophobia of the Japanese, alas, who considered them foreigners (and therefore subhumans) in spite of their Japanese ancestry. A number returned to try their luck in Brazil, disappointed; others formed ghettos, primarily around the middle of Honshu, where they could at least get jobs in manufacturing, and are resigned to being treated like dirt.

        • JayMan says:

          Many Japanese Brazilians are apparently quite mixed.

        • I live in Japan and the story I heard was not one of xenophobia but of loud music played late at night, parties, theft and generally loitering, something the Japanese don’t do. It seems the immigrants, though genetically Japanese, brought their old culture with them. I find both your and my explanations likely. I would like to believe yours because then I could stick to my idea that genetics are more important than environment when it comes to behaviour. However, since the Japanese were horrible in WWII and overly passive now I know that genetics isn’t everything. My guess is that the new arrivals were a lot less buttoned up in their behaviour than the already resident Japanese and this, understandably, didn’t sit well with the latter.

          • Byron Allen Black says:

            Hey, thanks for the thoughtful response. I’ve spent a total of around 8 years living ‘on Moonbase’ (as my Filipino pal and I used to joke) since 1962, and early on planned to spend the rest of my days there.
            The more I learned and the more I experienced of the daily interaction between the hon na nihonjin and the horrible hairy Beast from Planet X (yours truly) the more I came to realize that they’ll never give you a fair shake. It’s in the bones (the culture) and I can’t see it changing.
            I always felt compassionate for the kids at the Japanese School in Jakarta who were fun, warm, engaging and non-judgmental: when they returned home they’d be quickly disabused, told they weren’t ‘real Japanese’ and would find it incredibly difficult to fit in. This also explains why corporate businessmen don’t really enjoy foreign postings, in spite of the life of luxury they can lead abroad (compared to the cramped quarters and dismal life of Japan): they’re away from the Head Office, out of the swim, and will quite possibly feel suspicion and rejection upon returning – for no good reason, it should be stressed.
            The gaijin in his yukata tottering down a Kyoto lane on his ill-fitting geta, on his way from his calligraphy class to his tea ceremony: we used to refer to these poor pretas as ‘lifers’.
            I wouldn’t blame free and easy Brasileiros for carrying on the way you describe – but certainly see how their lax behavior would grate on the shimaguni konjo of their ‘hosts’. Tough call.

            • Hi Byron, I half agree – but only half. Since I have never lived in Kyoto I have never seen any men tottering anywhere in a pair of geta, unless they are with their wives on some special occasion on a special day and looking quite proud of the whole thing. Also tea I have only met a few people into the tea ceremony and all were women except for the one man who was gay.

              I know Japanese who can’t wait to get away and live abroad, at least for a while, and I know others who don’t want a posting abroad because that would mean breaking up any social life they had constructed for themselves here.

              Yes, the Japanese are the ‘starchiest’ nation I have ever encountered but I see no way of extracting the uptightness without killing all the good things about them. It would be like trying to build a machine that can drive on roads, float on water, fly – and cook your dinner. You can’t have everything and everything is a trade-off.

              • Byron Allen Black says:

                [DISCLAIMER]: (….and I should have made it earlier on…)

                I haven’t lived in Japan for some years, and everything I referred to took place decades ago. But I’ve had steady contact with Japanese abroad, and from all I’ve studied there does not seem to have been the sort of sea-change in the younger generation that you definitely find in China and Southeast Asia, wow.

                ‘Konkonchiki’ [‘stubborn’ doesn’t begin to translate it] like I’ve seen nowhere else in the world. Not to mention ‘utagai-bukai’ [‘profoundly suspicious’].

              • I teach Japanese university students and having spent a lifetime of avoiding horrible western children and teenagers this lot have restored my faith in youth. I assumed all teenagers were horrible – I was. But Japanese teenagers are generally very nice. Whatever the opposite of self-obsessed is, that’s what they are. Whenever American students come into our canteen you are forced to listen to them because they are SO DAMNED LOUD. You comment about the Japanese being ‘profoundly suspicious’ is about right. They sometimes remind me of animals drinking at a waterhole, constantly looking up to see what danger there is. That’s fine. Too casual and insouciant is just as annoying.

            • RudyM says:

              It can be done though. Gaijin can make a home there in rare cases. I had a friend (more of a pen pal, really) who moved there in the 80s. As far as I know he is still married to a well connected Japanese singer from the more experimental fringes, and is doing well there. We are not in touch any more, so I don’t have much insight into what sort of reception he gets from the Japanese in general. I wouldn’t claim that he can ever become Japanese, but he has managed to make a life there. He is a pretty exceptional person though. In addition to probably having a very high IQ, he had a clear sense of what type of life he wanted, early on. Also, there was something extremely formal in his manner, which was at odds with mainstream American culture. The last time I saw him, his body language was not American at all.

          • gcochran9 says:

            Japanese, like other people, respond to incentives.

            • Yes, of course. But the Japanese really have taken to their new persona like a duck to water. It suits them. I sometimes wonder if they felt just as at home in their aggressive/militaristic persona? Did they have to force themselves? Is there no ‘grain’ to go either with or against?

      • You will alas have a very hard time convincing many ‘liberals’ of that – particularly those who have not had to deal with Islamic hardliners. They fail to appreciate the determination with which those committed to conquest will rachet every gain forward (no ham in school cafeterias, no free discussion of Islamic traditions like slavery, no Christmas trees) and refuse to give an inch, even on outrages like genital mutilation, children choosing to leave Islam (pain of death) or meaningful integration into the new culture.

        At the moment they are working forcefully to enact blasphemy laws in Canada which would directly contravene protection of freedom of speech. Just don\’t ask them what they honestly think of the Jews or of Israel. ‘That”s different.’

        • Frau Katze says:

          The election of idiot Trudeau has put the wind in their sails.

          Much of what you state is already in place in heavily Muslim parts of Toronto. In one place, they have a “mosque” in the school, complete with girls sitting at the back. This is a public school.

          It’s known as the “Mosqueteria”.

          • Alex says:

            Has any one of you actually been to Canada? Or have the foggiest about this topic? Seems like a lot of pontificating based on bias and regurgitation of party lines, not factual experience.

            • Rosenmops says:

              Frau Katze has lived in Canada since 1951.
              Here is an article about the mosqueteria:


            • Frau Katze says:

              I live in Victoria, BC, Canada. I was born and raised in Vancouver. Not that many Muslims here, but the tale of the sky high price of houses due to (largely) wealthy Chinese is 100% accurate. It’s been documented in news reports.

              I was a co-blogger for the man who broke the Mosqueteria story.

              He lives Toronto, with areas that are heavily Muslim. The site is Blazing Cat Fur. You can email him at blazingcatfur@gmail.com if you want to confirm the account.

              I am not as active as I used to be at the blog, but I still do a bit.

            • Steven C. says:

              “regurgitation of party lines”? Any regurgitation of party lines in my country is always “diversity is our strength”! And the story about Valley Park school is entirely factual, and yes I do live in the area. Incidentally the situation is much worse in the City of Brampton and the northern part of the City of Mississauga immediately to the west, which are majority South Asian. The only people willing to speak out about what is happening in the public schools are those South Asians who are Sikh, Hindu or Christian; and even they will frequently be denounced as “racist” by those whites who are “regurgitating the party line”.

        • Saldo says:

          Leftys white knight Islam since in the wake of the failures of Nazism and Communism they’re running out of alternatives. Islam, like Communism, is ultimately a nihilistic, world conquering ideology for those craving death (both themselves and others) and filled with ressentiment.

          • I call I-Slam (and its two Abrahamic counterparts) the Desert Death Cults. They’ll likely ruin the planet and exterminate the human race in the process.

            Have a night day (as they say in Thailand).

            • dearieme says:

              “the Desert Death Cults”: I must use that.

              • Jim says:

                I don’t think “Desert Death Cult” is really a fair and objective description of Islam. But clearly Middle Eastern Islam has a very high degree of incompatibility with Western European modernism. Mixing Western European and Middle Eastern Islamic populations together is a sure recipe for violent conflict.

              • Saldo says:

                I don’t think “Desert Death Cult” is really a fair and objective description of Islam

                If you’re talking about heretical branches then sure. The Islam followed by the men who rampaged across the world and flew planes into buildings is nihilistic.

              • DataExplorer says:

                “Middle Eastern Islam”? Is there another type of Islam? All of the religious texts of Islam were written in Arabic in the Middle East.

              • albatross says:

                Where were the texts for Christianity and Judaism written?

              • Jim says:

                The New Testament was written in Greek.

              • Jim says:

                The people who wrote the Gospels were very Hellenized.

              • Frau Katze says:

                @Jim All the New Testament was written in Greek but the styles of various authors vary. Matthew, Mark and John write in a style suggesting that Greek was not their native language. Luke wrote much more fluently. But it is not known if it was his native language or not.

                I don’t think “Desert Death Cult” is fair to either Judaism or Christianity.

          • I don’t know how you can call either Communism or Islam ‘nihilistic’. Either you don’t know the meaning of the word or I don’t. I hate both ideologies but to my mind neither are nihilistic. If anything they are hopelessly optimistic and idealistic.

    • DataExplorer says:

      “Large-scale intermarriage has also encouraged a general depression of the intelligence quota.”

      This is the one thing that you do not have to worry about with Muslim immigrants, they refuse to intermarry without conversion, and only the very dim Westerners will agree to convert to Islam.

      The USA may evolve into something like Brazil peacefully, but there may be some sort of civil war on the horizon for parts of Europe. Canada, Australia and New Zealand will be fine because they are made up of 95% high IQ groups.

    • CM says:

      Many of these successful Indians that fled East Africa were Ismailis (a sect of Shia Islam), and they’re known for their business acumen and high levels of education. Maybe you just don’t notice them because they rarely wear clothing that reveals their religion – but commentators have made note of the success of Ismaili refugees and immigrants in Canada after being expelled from East Africa.

      Also, are Iranians not a successful community in Canada? They are secular and well educated, and not the way you present all the new Muslim immigrants in Canada. Among them is Nima Arkani-Hamed, one of the most respected physicists in the world.

      • Frau Katze says:

        The Iranians who fled Khomeini tend to be educated elites, many not believers. I agree that those people are not a problem.

        The current Iranian regime, however, is doing what it can to export true believers. They two sides have collided at protests in Toronto.

        • DataExplorer says:

          Iranians seem to have higher IQ than Arabs. Also Shia Islam is a little less fanatical and fundamentalist than Sunni, partly because the founding texts of Shia Islam (aside from the Quran) are hidden from the masses, so any old idiot cannot go and read them and take them literally.

          • Frau Katze says:

            The Iranians who fled Khomeini have written large number of memoirs. There must be dozens of them. I’ve read many.

            It’s much harder to find Arabs writing memoirs. There are some of course, but not as many, even though there’s a lot more of them. Lebanon seems to have produced the most.

            In Sunni Islam, the process of ijtahid—reasoning concerning how the texts of Islam should be interpreted—ended in the 10th century. It was officially closed.

            It has never closed in Shia Islam. That’s why so many splinter group (like Ismailis) broke from Shiism. It’s also why Shiites pick their Ayatollah whose pronouncements they follow.

            • Do people in Canada restrict their arguments to whether the IQ of immigrants is high or low? The BBC recently made a documentary called ‘Life in Immigration Town’, the town being Slough, where the British population is down to 34%. The reporter, having demonstrated that immigrants were not taking jobs away from locals (unemployment is at 1%) and that local businesses actually prefer to employ immigrants because they are better workers, could see no problem at all here. I was left wondering: If 34% British was not too low, was there then a number that the reporter thought would be. 24% perhaps? Maybe 10%? Zero? His position seemed to be that providing the economy was ticking along then why should anyone worry or complain? Is that the same in Canada? Are people really so sanguine about being replaced by other races? Are the economy and IQ all that matters there? Is there no ethnic group there that considers itself to have more right to be there than others?

              • Frau Katze says:

                No, I’m not keen on being replaced by other races. Although Iranians would surely qualify as white, I’m strongly allergic to Islam.

                I’m writing as one who thinks we have let in far far too many immigrants to reverse it. I would support ending immigration. But I doubt that’s going to happen. The current leadership in Canada could scarcely be worse. I didn’t vote for them but even the previous Conservative govt bragged about how many immigrants were arriving. There is zero organized opposition, no Trump, no Le Pen.

                That being the case, shouldn’t we at least try to get the brightest ones?

              • Yep, if that’s your only option. In England we have a long history of the same people living on the same piece of land. I wondered if white Canadians, not having been in Canada that long, are a little sheepish about claiming Canada as their own.

              • Frau Katze says:

                @theunrecordedman Certainly the “we’re all immigrants” line is much more true for the settler colonies. However, I’ve also noticed British journalists trying to say “we’ve always a nation of immigrants” too. They list Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, Normans and Huguenots. Except that only the last group were refugees. The others were invaders. But hey, leftist journalists will try to spin anything.

                It’s true that lacking a past history of slavery, the Canadian SJWs really harp on the natives. I notice American SJWs kind of ignore them.

        • Steven C. says:

          Reminds me of an article I read about Moslems in the Netherlands not integrating; their intolerance, misogyny and tendency to live on welfare etc. A very long article which concluded with “but not the Iranians, of course.”

    • Clay says:

      It is hard for me to see how importing Indian traders,even if they are intelligent, is a net benefit to Canada. There are other considerations besides IQ.

      • That was my initial feeling as well (late 1970s, when I pursued a not-particularly-successful art career in Vancouver). I think what impressed me was how this ethnic group managed to fit into, contribute to and mightily benefit from the small business ethic which is a large part of the capitalist backbone of our rather fragile and mostly resource-based economy.

        From day one the East Indians set about supporting themselves. In particular there was a store on Main Street which sold ground coffee I liked. It was run rather casually by the Johnston family (as I recall). When a group of Ugandan refugees took it over it was like lightning struck, with a burst of varieties of merchandise offered, super-service, expanded hours and much-improved attitude toward shoppers. I was frankly amazed.

        They probably own half of the property around South 49th Street by now, unless they’ve sold it to the Chinese (whose overall contribution to the economy has been but inflationary, unless you happen to be a member of the Lucky Sperm Club and have inherited a house or land).

    • BengaliCanadianDude says:

      Actually, a very very very large portion of the Ugandan Asians were Muslim as well. India may have only a 15 percent Muslim population, but East Africa, and Uganda in particular had a LOOOT of Muslims.

      • Yes, thank you for the observation. Muslims everywhere seem to be raised as enterprising and entrepreneurial individuals. The group that first introduced Islam to Indonesia (through Aceh) were actually traders.

  2. pyrrhus says:

    It’s almost like an intelligent 10 year old could figure this out….Walter Bagehot must be rolling over in his grave at the state of modern economics, and “economists.”

    • gcochran9 says:

      That’s an argument for cognitive diversity.

    • ziel says:

      Agree, but amazingly, no one to my knowledge has ever proposed this ‘thought experiment’ before, yet in its straightforward, simple way it is completely devastating to the ‘immigration is good for the economy’ mantra from economists.

      It exposes the pro-immigration argument to be completely reliant on these claims:
      1. High skilled immigration is beneficial, and it is so highly beneficial that allowing in far larger numbers of low-skilled immigrants in its wake is still worth it
      2. Immigrants make the country younger and so are essential to pay for our Social Security and Medicare (and, as Greg has pointed out before ‘they’ll never grow old and grey’ themselves – or sick or require ELL education for that matter)
      3. Annexing Canada would give us an immediate 10% GDP boost, and size of GDP is all that matters!

      But if anyone else has made this similar analogy – in the pages of VDARE or any other anti-immigration site, I’ve never seen it.

      • gcochran9 says:

        By the same logic, devastating 10% of the US – dropping their IQ with Zika, depriving them of iodine, making them read the Washington Post every single morning – would enrich the remaining 90% of the US. The damaged portion would be different enough to allow comparative advantage to kick in. Am I missing something?

  3. Rosenmops says:

    Canada is busy bring in low-capita people at a great rate, even faster now because of our idiot prime minister. Trudeau is basking in the glory of being the virtuous anti-Trump. We now have illegals walking across our border to escape from Trump, and because the boy wonder tweeted that everyone Trump rejects is welcome in Canada. He also removed the visa requirement for Mexicans, because he is stupid. We are getting lots of criminals and terrorists (lots of Somalis — perhaps the people with the lowest human capital of all.)

    We already have MANY Chinese and Sikhs. Many of the Chinese are very rich but this is not an advantage when they buy up almost an entire city (Vancouver) and make housing unaffordable for everyone else. They seem to find lots of ways to avoid paying taxes and engage in a lot of shady practices. Just because they don’t mug you and aren’t stupid doesn’t mean enough of them can’t ruin a city.

    • Frau Katze says:

      I think nothing was done about the house prices in Vancouver until became really, really bad (boarded up houses just to launder money), because so many people already here benefited from the high prices. They sold their houses and made a good profit. Even we benefited that way.

      That’s a problem that can be dealt with. Eventually it will straighten out. It’s a “second order problem.”

      But the radical Muslims are a permanent liability with absolutely no up side. They’re very much a first order problem.

    • Saldo says:

      Just Trudy’s antics are less surprising when look up his family days. What with having a daddy who buddied up with Castro and a feminist mommy who cuckolded daddy.

    • DataExplorer says:

      According to Wikipedia, in 2011 Canada was almost totally made up of high IQ populations, the only sub-100 IQ groups were:

      2.9% Black
      1.2% Latin American
      1.2% Arab
      4.3% Aboriginal identity

      That is a total of just 9.6% drawn from sub-100 mean IQ populations. (I am not including Indians in that because you are mainly getting high caste engineers and programmers from India).

      90.4% high IQ is a good base, and Trudeau would have to do a lot to wreck that. Letting in 40,000 Syrian refugees is not going to put a dent on that. Things are coming to a head in Europe now, the borders will be closed in a few years, and the number of terrorist attacks will continue to grow. I doubt that the next Canadian government will be letting in 1,000s of refugees every year. My summation is that Canada will be fine. But maybe I am wrong? Are there any flaws in my thinking? I have never even been to Canada so maybe someone with first hand experience on the ground can correct me…

      • Greying Wanderer says:

        “That is a total of just 9.6% drawn from sub-100 mean IQ populations”

        The only relevant percentages are the breeding age population.

      • Rosenmops says:

        The Sikhs who immigrated to the Vancouver area are not high caste engineers and programmers. Not at all. And there are a LOT of them.

  4. anon says:

    Well actually nobody said exclusive low-iq immigration would have big positive effects on the native population, including that letter…. Also why do you particularly care about low-iq Americans? If we had open borders, high-school dropouts would make about 6%-8% (Bojas numbers) less, everyone else would make same or more. This brief blog from Bryan Caplan, “Are Low Skilled Americans the Master Race” puts things into moral and economic perspective: http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2006/03/are_lowskilled.html

    Obviously I think there are some important long term HBD concerns with immigration mixing, and maybe strategic political ones, and cultural ones, but that’s kind of orthogonal to the economic argument you’re talking about.

    • gcochran9 says:

      Caplan’s full of shit. Prosperity through favelas? Hasn’t worked anywhere else.

      • Sandgroper says:

        It did in the squatter areas in Hong Kong. Those steep hillside squatter areas that peaked in the 1980s were virtually indistinguishable from the favelas in Rio de Janeiro, with one exception – the people who lived in them.

        Totally irrelevant, little appreciated factoid – if you drill a hole from Hong Kong through the centre of the earth, you come out the other side in Rio de Janeiro. There are a lot of topographic and climatic similarities. And, in the 1980s, in the steep hillside, landslide-prone shanty towns that sprouted everywhere. Hong Kong’s are mostly gone now – folks worked, prospered and have got decently rehoused. Rio is just the same as the ’80s, or a lot worse.

        • dave chamberlin says:

          Economists looked at the resources of Brazil twenty years ago and declared, “this is the next nation that is going to boom economically.” Of course they ignored the most important factor, the people that lived there.

          • Jim says:

            Yes, Brazil is the eternal country of the future. Of course there were people at the start of the decolonization of Sub-Saharan Africa who predicted spectacular economic growth there. Same for India.

            • Sandgroper says:

              The thing to really get here is that Brazil is a huge country with vast exploitable resources – just on that basis alone, it should have been one of the richest countries in the world. It failed due to entrenched corruption, which has never gone away, and lack of the right kind of human capital. But they could still have made it if they had dealt effectively with the corruption. They didn’t, and they still haven’t, and they never will.

              Hong Kong is a tiny place with no resources at all except for its people – and one other thing which most people totally forget, or are completely ignorant of: it has one of the world’s best natural deep water harbours, and it sits at the mouth of China’s third largest river (so, like they tell you in real estate, it’s all about location, location and location). Yet, by any measure, it is wildly financially successful – or became so, once the scourge of endemic corruption at all levels of society was stamped out in the early 1970s. Once corruption was effectively eliminated, it took off, and went from Third World Hellhole Sweatshop to First World in the space of one decade. I know – I saw it. During the 1980s, when it had a population of less than 5 million people, it had the 10th largest economy in the world – which is just ridiculous.

              Make no mistake, there are any number of exceedingly bright, hard working, capable Brazilians. I know a fair few of them. But they are battling an entrenched system that they can never hope to overcome. It’s a tragedy.

              The basic difference is that Hong Kong dealt effectively with corruption, at all levels of society, and Brazil hasn’t.

              • Jim says:

                In the late nineteenth century people were predicting a great future for Brazil, today they are predicting a great future for Brazil, a hundred years from now people will be predicting a great future for Brazil. Brazil will always have a great future,.

              • dave chamberlin says:

                An economist could make a better a better prediction of Brazil’s future by just looking at their autosomal composition. He could dig out this actual wiki faction “this nation has an autosomal composition of 62% European, 21% African, and 17% Native American. It is going to stay screwed up with a huge underclass but it will also have a thriving middle class.” Would he be wrong? no. Would he be unemployed? yes.

      • Bob says:

        I note Caplan doesn’t post his address and tell the undocumented which rock to look for the key under. If it is good for the nation it must be double plus good for his household as well.

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      “Well actually nobody said exclusive low-iq immigration would have big positive effects on the native population”

      you’re partly right in that most of the time they try and avoid saying something that obviously stupid out loud by focusing on high skills (as if supply and demand doesn’t apply there as well) however they constantly imply low IQ immigration has big positive effects, for examples

      one: the 50 year old “crops rotting in the fields” meme

      two: studies claiming immigration as a whole is a net financial positive which then gets spun as all immigration is positive – including the low skilled – which when you look at the details hides the fact that low-skilled immigration is massively negative but covered by a small amount of highly positive immigration (mostly young professionals swapping countries for a few years) (which on purely financial grounds isn’t really net positive overall anyway as if they were all in their original countries it would balance out).

      three: “jobs Americans won’t do” which in itself is generally a lie (it’s usually jobs illegal immigrants do cheaper) but even if it was true doesn’t account for the welfare costs.

      four: using the “lump of labor fallacy”, fallacy


      • Ursiform says:

        I am aware of attempts going back 50 years to get Americans to pick crops. Even when they can be lured to start with good wages most Americans soon quit because the work is too hard. While there are plenty of Americans unable to do anything more economically valuable than picking crops, there aren’t enough Americans willing to pick crops.

        We need both enough smart people to design things and enough people willing to do back breaking work to get crops harvested. We have a large number of Americans who fall into neither category.

        • JerryC says:

          If it’s not economic to grow, say, strawberries in the US, we should import strawberries from someplace where it is economic. Importing strawberries from Mexico seems to make a lot more sense than imporring Mexicans to pick strawberries in California.

        • Greying Wanderer says:

          low productivity agricultural work is low paid because it is low productivity and there are better jobs available

          importing immigrants to do low productivity work LOWERS your average productivity and as productivity is the only engine of prosperity lowering your average productivity is slow economic suicide

          the only good solution is technology to make agricultural work more productive so you have ten decent paid jobs producing strawberries instead of a 100 low paid ones

          the only rational solution is to cut off cheap labor and develop a high tech alternative instead

          • Cato says:

            I agree. When food suppliers lose their migratory labor, they will have a powerful incentive to develop labor-replacing technology. The only problem is how to manage the transition, which will take perhaps a decade, so that suppliers feel the pressure, and yet each year crops still manage to get into the supermarkets.

      • Esso says:

        “four: using the “lump of labor fallacy”, fallacy”

        This is particularly insidious.

        Native workers see a real effect in the working conditions and and employment in their profession, but most often they are not very articulate in putting what they see in theoretical terms. Instead of helping, economists latch on the fallacy. “We have counted the calories: you cannot be hungry!”

        It is true that employment follows changes in workforce fairly quickly and accurately. Even then, one immigrant whose residence permit is conditional on employment can easily mean (1 – employment rate) natives out of work.

        But the economists’ standard counterargument (“Does Iceland, with so few people, have full employment? Does China have 1 billion unemployed people, since it’s that much bigger?”) is willfully dishonest. It is not that hard to see the problems with equating a larger steady population with a one that gets an addition people from places with lower standards of living. One is steady, the other is in constant disequilibrium.

        It should also be quite obvious to trained economists that the employers are using an arbitrage: they are giving the immigrants a a chance to live in a modern society and a shot at citizenship. Neither of which should be theirs to give.

    • Maciano says:

      The people who think we all benefit from masses of poor third worlders have forgotten how nice a middle class high trust society is. I couldn’t care less about a 15% higher wage if I could have clean, green cities, orderly, crime-free neighborhoods and schools, low corruption and well-behaved citizens. Also, that 15% higher wage what do you use it for in a diverse society, cheap gardening and child care. Housing prices these days reflect white or non-NAM neighborhoods. You pay a lot of more money to escape the diversity.

      I’ve been to Singapore a few times. It really beats the US or Western Europe these days. If trips like that don’t convince you, ask a South African immigrant what it was like back home and how he/she likes his/her new country.

      Economists have way too much prestige and influence. Their ideas are valuable, but they don’t seem to understand economics is about making life better for the nation, i.e. people and culture, not increasing GDP or economic activity.

  5. Your-Momma says:

    I’m embarrassed for these cynical bastards.

    Basically immigrants grow the economy, literally. So like if the entire continents of Africa and Asia moved to the United States, the economy would get freaking huge! Of course, we’d want to shoot ourselves at that point. What’s sad is the uber-cynical, anti-American, anti-Western sentiment of these growth whores is their bold declarations:

           "Immigration brings young workers who help offset the large-scale retirement of baby boomers."

    Ask the Germans how using immigrants to prop up the welfare state is working out. Basically, they are nakedly advocating population replacement! Old white fuddy-duddies die off, hip and modern starbucks-drinking migrants with dark skin drive across the border in uber cars. Boom, Modern Economy!

      "Immigration brings diverse skill sets that keep our workforce flexible, help companies grow, and increase the productivity of American workers."

    In other words, subsidize certain professions and certain industries with cheap labor. Again, these are subsidies. Subsidies to academia, subsidies to medical, subsidies to tech. That isn’t free-market.

      "Immigrants are far more likely to work in innovative, job-creating fields such as science,        technology, engineering, and math that create life-improving products and drive economic growth."

    Ouch! But I also must ask, really? Last I checked 30 people were dead in a trash landslide in Sri Lanka. I’m not feelin’ it.

    • anon says:

      Immigrants that come to America are on average higher skill, since Asians now makeup the biggest portion of immigrants. America’s immigration system is selective, you idiots always assume it’s practically open. Sure maybe with a Canada/Australia points system you’d have even more high-skill immigrants, but still your snark is misplaced sir.

      • gcochran9 says:

        place of birth for the foreign-born population of the US, 2013:

        all of Latin America, ~25 million China, ~2.5 million

        • anon says:

          What i meant is that the flow of immigrants in 2016 is mostly from China & Indian, Mexican immigration now lower: http://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/historic-shift-new-migration-flows-mexico-fall-below-those-china-and-india the total proportions are a different story.

          • JW Bell says:

            Hispanic growth is mostly from native higher fertility rates. They may or may not converge.

          • Pincher Martin says:

            Chinese immigration is bifurcated between high achievers and drudges trying to game the system. Median incomes and poverty rates for Chinese immigrants in the U.S. are above the national average. Labor force participation rates for Chinese immigrants are not only lower than the national average but even lower than the total for other non-Chinese immigrants in the U.S. Chinese immigrants are more likely to struggle with picking up the English language than the average immigrant group, too, and are less likely to speak English at home.

            Yes, perhaps the Chinese aren’t the best group to represent Cochran’s point, but his argument was larger than that. And I suspect not one economist who signed that letter would have changed a single comma in it even if every Chinese immigrant to the U.S. was suddenly turned into a Mexican, Middle Eastern or African immigrant.

            As for me, I require more than a high median IQ for a group before I consent to letting large numbers of them into the country. Even among the best-performing groups, a lot of undesirables float in.

            • Frau Katze says:

              I’m only thinking, if we absolutely have to have all these migrants (apparently we do, decision was made in the 1960’s, although I don’t think the electorate were consulted) better to have ones with at least an average IQ of 100.

              I think the Canadians are fools who brought far too many, far too quickly.

              No party is opposed to it. There is no one to vote for if you don’t like it.

              Trudeau is a fool but the previous Conservative govt bragged in regular press releases about how they were bringing “record numbers.”

          • Difference Maker says:

            Since Trump got in, you mean.

          • Greying Wanderer says:

            catch 22 huh

            option 1: import millions of low skilled people so the supply and demand only effects the wages/housing of lower IQ/skilled natives who can’t fight back effectively on their own but eventually economy capsizes through the dysgenic effect of lowering average IQ

            option 2: import millions of high IQ immigrants instead to avoid the economy capsizing but now the supply and demand effects the segment of the native population better able to fight back

      • dain says:

        ask some Vancouverites how that “high skill immigration” from China is going

        • anon says:

          Whites are getting gentrified in Vancouver what’s the problem? Why do I care about some Canadians in Vancouver, I hardly care about my own parents. Basically my experience of Asian immigration in Canada is they’re super rich and drive expensive cars with Mao shaped car fresheners and Chinese flag paint jobs. Big whoop, i feel so oppressed.

          • Rosenmops says:

            You might feel oppressed if you were trying to buy a house or get a job in Vancouver. Hoards of rich, corrupt Chinese coud be coming to a your city next.

          • Rosenmops says:

            “Whites are getting gentrified in Vancouver ”

            I googled for this definition of “gentrify”:

            “renovate and improve (especially a house or district) so that it conforms to middle-class taste.”

            “make (someone or their way of life) more refined or polite.”

            I was born in Vancouver in 1955 and I grew up there. Whites are definitely not getting “gentrified”. The Chinese saw that Vancouver was a safe, attractive city and decided to come and buy it up. They certainly have not improved he city in ANY WAY.

          • Pincher Martin says:

            “Why do I care about some Canadians in Vancouver, I hardly care about my own parents.”

            With that kind of attitude, why should anyone trust what you have to say about the best interests of the country?

          • Difference Maker says:

            Yes, and have them cheat on taxes and corrupt the culture

            There’s a reason they all want to leave China

      • Greying Wanderer says:

        “Immigrants that come to America are on average higher skill”

        not allowing all the low IQ ones would raise the average

    • But may the economy not tip over if it grows too large? Inquiring minds need to know.

  6. Ilya says:

    Wow. Firstly, it pained to see some names on that list. Secondarily, I know firsthand how simultaneously delusional and pompous economists can be, but such universal agreement classifies them as enemies of the American people.

    • AppSocREs says:

      Signature lists like this may prove useful during and after the civil war that seems more and more likely as the policies of these idiots continue to be implemented.

  7. Frau Katze says:

    The economists are thinking short term profits only. I agree that high skilled immigrants can be a benefit. But even there I have heard (anecdotally) that those on the H-1B visas are sort of like skilled indentured labour, to the detriment of Americans competing with them for jobs.

    They work for less, just as the Mexicans do. But only the first generation Mexicans are willing to work at crappy jobs for low pay. I have heard and read that the second generation Mexicans aren’t doing as well as other groups, such as Chinese and Indian (from India).

    What is the cost to society as a whole to get cheap labour at the cost of a big underclass forming? This a Ponzi scheme: you keep needing new immigrants because the children of the previous lot won’t work at bad jobs for low wages.

    Too bad it would politically incorrect to filter them with IQ tests. That might stop an underclass from forming.

    • Rosenmops says:

      I wish we could filter them by their propensity for corruption. Suggesting that immigrants from corrupt countries might be corrupt is almost as politically incorrect as taking about IQ. The corruption doesn’t disappear, especially when there are a lot of immigrants from one place.

      • Frau Katze says:

        The problems like corruption are related to having large numbers arrive in a short time.

        The US noticed this with southern and Eastern Europeans arriving late 1800s, early 1900’s. There was a marked increase in corruption plus outfits like the Mafia. That’s one reason people wanted to slam the door shut in the 1920s, and they did.

        It largely worked, but it took several generations to get them up to the same level as the Northern Europeans.

        Now the proposal is do away with borders completely. It would be insanity.

  8. Nick Rowe says:

    This is how economists often approach the question of migration:

    Forget migration for a minute, and think about standard economic theory of Gains From Trade. Gains from trade come either from Economies of Scale (even if the traders are identical), or from Comparative Advantage (which depends on the traders being different).

    Now suppose there are high transportation costs, so you can’t trade with someone unless they live and work very close to you (trade in services is often like that). You now have an economics of migration.

    Personally, I don’t think this is an adequate framework for thinking about the economics of migration. It lacks a theory of what countries are, and why they exist.

    • Frau Katze says:

      It’s a very narrow outlook, with the emphasis on short term profits for employers.

      It completely ignores the long term social effects. Economists don’t study that area. Not their job.

      But if you say this, you get called names: you’re a hater, Nazi, fascist, etc etc.

      So nobody is studying possible long term effects.

      It’s ironic to hear scientists complain that stupid rednecks won’t believe their theory of global warming (which I think is correct).

      But the public have lost faith in scientists saying ridiculous things like “race is a social construct”. If scientists believe that they’re idiots so why should anyone believe them about anything?

      And then sociologists or whoever should be studying long term effects of mass immigration either don’t exist or have rosy forecasts for the future.

      In other words, the long term effects of global warming is really, really important but the long term effects of mass immigration…wait! What are you? Some kind of Nazi?

    • anon says:

      Nice, an actual high quality comment. I pretty much agree with this criticism that it’s not adequate because they leave out the HBD aspect of migrant population.

      The way I would still defend immigration (at the margin) is to consider at what threshold immigration becomes problematic. We’re talking about many lives that could be massively improved (including the native population) so we better actually come up with a dangerous_threshold_%_for_X instead of just blanket saying it needs to be reduced.

      The problem is that when you start thinking of immigration on the moral sanctity/purity dimension (Haidt’s terms), it clouds your judgement where one must protect the native population from any contamination. I don’t think we’re anywhere near a dangerous threshold, certainly not comparable to any other existential/civilizational risks.

      • Difference Maker says:

        Is native life massively improved? I don’t feel massively improved. When we have to support them through welfare, suffer their crimes, have them clog up our parks, schools, roads, hospitals, prisons, with the whole legal, academic, and media apparatus of PC lecturing us with lies, stealing our money and our opportunities, and launching frivolous lawsuits

      • Nick Rowe says:

        Thanks. It’s probably mostly trade-offs (decreasing marginal benefits – increasing marginal costs) rather than strict thresholds, but yes the right answer will probably be 0<X% per year<100. Think of countries as part of the institutional framework, like property rights and contract law (without which trade is meaningless), rather than random borders drawn on physical geography. But economists don’t understand institutions very well (nor does anyone else).

      • amac78 says:

        We’re talking about many lives that could be massively improved [by immigration] (including the native population) so we better actually come up with a dangerous_threshold_%_for_X instead of just blanket saying it needs to be reduced.

        By “native population,” it seems you mean something like “whites, blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians whose families came to the U.S. more than a few decades ago, whose first language is English, and who self-identify as American.”

        Much replicable social science suggests that these natives don’t see their lives as being massively improved in the era of mass immigration. Because they haven’t been. Economically or socially. (“Coming Apart,” “The White Death,” “Bowling Alone,” “The Yale Problem Begins in High School”). This is most acute for the left half of the IQ bell curve.

        Do you welcome the chance to cede control of your life to strangers who may or may not understand your circumstances and priorities, who may or may not be smarter, wiser, and more compassionate than you, and who may or may not have your best interests at heart?

        If so, a re-evaluation might be in order. Also, please consider commenting under a more unique pseudonym. It’s hard to be sure which upstream comments are yours.

        • Rosenmops says:

          Some of us are old enough to remember the time before globalization and mass immigration from the 3rd world. Things have most certainly not been improved in any way.

      • Toddy Cat says:

        “I don’t think we’re anywhere near a dangerous threshold”

        Well, that’s certainly good enough for me! Personally, I have no idea what the “dangerous threshold” is, and neither do you. We probably won’t know until we cross it, which is a good reason to approach it slowly and carefully. Also, while immigration into more advanced countries may benefit those who come (in the short term), its overall impact on the less-developed world is very ambiguous. See links below




    • Pincher Martin says:

      This is how economists often approach the question of migration

      I doubt that ten percent of the economists on that list have looked at the topic of immigration at all. I’m not taking about studied immigration as their specialty. I’m just talking about looking at the subject with any scholarly rigor – the way a learned man in one area might turn his full attention to another subject late in his life. The vast majority of those economists signed a political (but not partisan) statement with some vague, inchoate, not-incorrect ideas about immigration.

      Do you see George Borjas’s name on that list? I looked for it and couldn’t find it. But then he’s actually one of the leading economists on immigration. What does he know about the topic?

    • Esso says:

      I would say the biggest omission there is the ownership of the country. A concept well within economists’ toolbox. With it come many questions, e.g. on how optimal the use of property is if owners lose their rights and everyone has free access.

      There is also the work of Garrett Hardin and Elinor Ostrom on commons and their management. Similar considerations should be applicable to studying downsides of immigration. Again, this is very much the economists’ field of work.

    • gcochran9 says:

      The countries that look somewhat like our likely demographic destination ( considering recent trends) do worse economically than the United States, including the subgroups with high human capital. Brazil, say.

      On the other hand, if you’re talking positional wealth, bringing in people with low human capital definitely works. Servants.

  9. Anonymous says:

    The one positive of this purely hypothetical un-Canada-like group of immigrants is their lower average age. That’s what the economists are so ecstatic about.

    I think you tackled that pretty well here though:


  10. Do you play chess? In some openings, some moves are reflexive. In the Benoni, if black plays a6, white plays a4 . You don’t have to think. Libertarians like Caplan have a tidy system which generates a sensible policy (laissez faire) in such a broad array of situations that they mistake a practical policy for an axiom. Hence the support for open borders (laissez faire immigration).
    That’s my hypothesis, anyway.

    • Also, the tidy universe of theoretical microeconomics contains two classes of objects: rational actors and property. Biologists and pediatricians and psychologists know better. The real world contains rational economic carrots which apportion investment in leaf surface and root mass according to the changing value of sunlight and soil nutrient, children, and crazy people. The human and canine IQ curves overlap. Rationality is a matter of degree. But that’s messy, so economists retreat to their flat geometric universe.

      • Ursiform says:

        Short of a few people who cannot live without constant care there is no overlap between human and canine IQ curves.

        • Take any well-socialized 8 year-old border collie and 1,000 newborn humans. Measure the time it takes the collie to associate an auditory stimulus with a visual stimulus (say, a whistle or bell and a door opening). The dog sits in a harness and receives a food reward when it looks at the proper door. Try this with babies. At some age, 50% of human babies will surpass the adult dog. Probably not at 1 day old.

          • Ursiform says:

            IQ is measured relative to age. If you want to make an inter-species comparison it would have to be a a newborn puppy. And they’d both lose to a newborn calf.

            Dogs aren’t smarter than people. (Neither are cows.) Your comparison misses the point.

  11. dearieme says:

    “The human and canine IQ curves overlap.” Border collies agree.

  12. Greying Wanderer says:

    economists know that if they come out with the completely obvious negatives of mass immigration they will be attacked as racist – which is career death

    the single biggest cause* of the economic stagnation in the West is mass immigration because it puts downward pressure on wages and upward pressure on housing costs leading to a squeeze in disposable income aka demand

    (*there are others)

    the only people who benefit are large employers (who benefit by effectively shifting part of their wage bill onto welfare) and the leadership of the political Left (who get millions of new voters). (some people think they benefit from cheaper nannies, plumbers etc but they pay for it in higher housing and welfare costs)

    if there’s more big fist-fights on university campuses and the bronze age barbarians win then maybe some economists will think it’s safe to break ranks.

  13. bob sykes says:

    Your reference to NAWAPA warms the cockles of my civil engineering heart. There once was some discussion of a similar plan for Columbus, Ohio. The headwaters of the Scioto River are only fifty miles or so from Lake Erie, and the gradient is easy. The Scioto actually drained Lake Erie during the great melting.

  14. Slimboy Fat says:

    If the incoming immigrants are effectively slaves to the native-born, then the latter do get something extra out of the deal. Then it’s just a matter of which natives exactly get the fruits of their labor.

  15. Lou Hamilton says:

    I usually like your candor, but I think you really missed the mark here:

    (1) I have read that the current flow of immigrants is very different from even 10 years ago (a quick Google search produced articles like this: https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2015/07/07/chinese-immigrants-largest-column/29784905/). Maybe I am wrong here!

    (2) Adopting a point-based system like Australia or Canada is compatible with the letter.

    (3) Economists understand the differences you are talking about. For example, check out this very new working paper: http://papers.nber.org/tmp/80059-w23330.pdf.

    (4) The four claims they make on how immigrants benefit the economy are empirical facts. Do you disagree with these facts, or do you think the possible long-term negative political externalities outweighs these facts?

    (5) Maybe they just don’t want Trump to mess around with the system that allows brilliant immigrants like Maryam Mirzakhani (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maryam_Mirzakhani) to come here? (Which he attempted to do with his first, now rescinded, executive order.)

    (6) In your first model of population expansion, there would be bigger effects than simply 10% more GDP and/or more economies of scale. All things held equal, if you have more people there will be more things like innovation and other positive-sum gains. The economy isn’t simply a GDP factory…

    (7) I apologize for the length of this comment.

    • Esso says:

      “(6) In your first model of population expansion, there would be bigger effects than simply 10% more GDP and/or more economies of scale. All things held equal, if you have more people there will be more things like innovation and other positive-sum gains. The economy isn’t simply a GDP factory…”

      Can’t people innovate elsewhere? Don’t we benefit from innovations made abroad?

      If you are talking about acceleration of technological development through population growth (more brains means more innovation), it is far below linear. There are natural timescales at work: depreciation of old tech, how long it takes to come up with an idea, maturation of tech, saving & investing (per capita) before new things become possible. The mythical man-month applies to the totality of engineering. You can’t jump straight from steam engines to nuclear, no matter how many engineers you have.

      For many serious problems (resources, disease, climate change), a reduction in population would do more good than the resulting loss of innovation (even if linear) would do harm.

    • RCB says:

      More people -> more innovators, entrepreneurs, geniuses
      More people -> more dunces, free-riders, incarcerations
      Both true. Not clear why the first would outweigh the second. Perhaps 1 at the very top is worth 10 at the very bottom?

  16. arielbyd says:

    Gains from trade. If enough of the Europeans are good at “running things”, you can shift some manual labor to the Muslims and have the now-unemployed Europeans help run things. Worked well for Israel half a century ago. Not sure whether it will work in our increasingly-automated world with its low and decreasing marginal product of labor.

    • Esso says:

      Losses through welfare state single-handedly destroy your gains from “running things”. If the low skill migrants have any children the losses start running instantly, no need to wait until they get old and sick.

      In Finland the 7th decile of households by income breaks even with regards to income transfers versus income taxes. And income transfers are only the beginning of the story.

  17. jb says:

    Yes, clearly nothing could be more beneficial to a country than adding millions of people who are poor, uneducated, and don’t speak the language well. How could anyone even doubt such an obvious truth?

  18. Karl Zimmerman says:

    I was curious about the actual IQ of migrants to the U.S., since I know the number of Latin Americans is dropping, and the number of East Asians is rising. I took the 2015 census data, multiplied the raw numbers by the average IQ of each country and got…87.

    I think this estimation is on the low side however. Error in measuring IQ in the individual countries of course plays a role, but that can be error in either direction. More important is selection bias.
    Presuming the average Indian immigrant has an IQ of 100 rather than 82 brings the average up one percentage point (to 88) before considering any other countries. In general I think it’s safe to presume besides perhaps Mexico, Central America, and some countries where refugees make up the bulk of immigrants U.S. migrants tend to have at least a moderately higher IQ than the average in their home country. Therefore I’d hazard a guess the average immigrant IQ is more in the range of 95 – lower than the U.S. average of 98, but not tremendously so.

    • Ursiform says:

      Given that there are some barriers to entry, and that higher intelligence generally leads to a higher likelihood of overcoming barriers, it seems reasonable that there is some selection for higher than average intelligence.

    • dux.ie says:

      A simpler approach is to compare the the percent of immigrant with degrees wrt to that for American. From OECD immigration dataset for 2015,

      Pct NDeg/Nimmg Host Source
      2.03 657856/ 32365450 US Africa
      14.14 4576118/ 32365450 US Americas
      18.22 5897057/ 32365450 US Asia
      7.37 2385237/ 32365450 US Europe
      42.02 13598713/ 32365450 US subtotal

      Overall 42.02% of legal immigrants have degrees compared to about 30% for locals. Now illegal immigrants are different matters.

      • dux.ie says:

        Similar data for Canada

        4.75 314845/ 6629130 CA Africa
        10.73 711436/ 6629130 CA Americas
        26.91 1783936/ 6629130 CA Asia
        25.07 1661984/ 6629130 CA Europe
        68.12 4515674/ 6629130 CA subtotal

      • dux.ie says:

        And for Germany and France

        4.87 250592/ 5148912 DE Asia
        14.23 732579/ 5148912 DE Europe
        21.67 1115961/ 5148912 DE subtotal

        8.65 407440/ 4709071 FR Africa
        3.71 174813/ 4709071 FR Asia
        8.54 402045/ 4709071 FR Europe
        22.62 1065117/ 4709071 FR subtotal

      • Greying Wanderer says:

        “Overall 42.02% of legal immigrants have degrees compared to about 30% for locals.”

        yes, now the deliberate over supply of labor is effecting the degree level native demographic and not just the unskilled and skilled manual


        “Now illegal immigrants are different matters.”

        Yes, they are.

  19. Jim says:

    I wonder if Bryan Caplan believes that Israel should adopt an “open borders” policy? No doubt there are millions of Palestinians and other Arabs who would like to emigrate to Israel. I’m sure that such immigration would have wonderful economic effects particularly for the coffin manufacturing and funeral business segments of the Israeli economy.

  20. Henrico Otto says:

    That is a nice thought experiment. But perhaps analogous to another. Let’s say tomorrow we discover a new country that is exactly like us but just 10% our size, let’s call it Tithe. At first we have a policy that says “no trade or contact with Tithe.” The discovery of Tithe, together with the no trade policy, doesn’t make us better or worse off economically. But then we change to a policy of “Hey, let’s have free trade with Tithe.” I’d think standard theory says we are better off.

    This thought experiment doesn’t count externalities of immigration but it isolates the positives that the economists are tracking when they say merging with Tithe (in the post’s thought experiment) is a net positive.

    • Henrico Otto says:

      Interesting aspect of this, thinking about it some: if you say Tithe is “exactly the same” comparative advantage trade depends on at least some economies of scale. If Tithe is crummier, it doesn’t.

      • danielchieh says:

        Yes. If its exactly the same, there’s no comparative advantage to benefit from the free trade. Its to assume that there’s an economy of scale, but there may instead be a diseconomy.

  21. Earth’s human population cannot grow without limit.
    Earth’s maximum possible instantaneous human population exceeds Earth’s maximum possible sustainable human population.
    Earth’s maximum possible sustainable human population leaves little room for wilderness or large non-human terrestrial animals.
    Value is determined by supply and demand*. Therefore …
    A world in which human life is precious is a world in which human life is scarce.
    Earth’s human population will stop growing when either (a) the birth rate falls to meet the death rate or (b) the death rate rises to meet the birth rate.
    Earth’s human population will stop growing as a result of either (a) deliberate human agency or (b) other.
    Deliberate human agency is either (a) democratically controlled or (b) other.
    For every locality A the term “the government of A” names the largest dealer in interpersonal violence in that locality**.
    All human behavioral traits are heritable***. Therefore …
    Voluntary programs for population control selectively breed non-compliant individuals.
    Humans who reproduce at high density have a selective advantage over humans who require more open space.
    Politicians in democratic countries will not impose restrictions on human reproduction so long as some other country provides a sink for excess growth.
    Human misery is like heat: in the absence of barriers it will flow until it is evenly distributed.

    Where do you disagree?
    * This is not an axiom of capitalist economics or of human economics; it is a fact of life. Compare the leaf surface area to root mass ratio of plants of the Brazilian rain forest floor to the leaf surface area to root mass ratio of plants of the Sonoran desert. Plot the leaf mass to root mass ratio of water hyacinth as a function of dissolved nutrient. The price that plants pay for sunlight, water, and nutrient depends on supply and demand.
    ** Definition, after Weber.
    ***See Pinker, The Blank Slate

    • Frau Katze says:

      Earth’s human population cannot grow without limit.

      This seems so obvious it should not need to be stated.

      Except that economists seem to disagree. I’ve actually seen op-ed’s at The Wall Street Journal saying: there will be some new way to handle the growth. It happened before, it can happen again. Anyway, it’s not relevant for me personally. The crisis won’t occur in my lifetime. (They don’t write the last two sentences, but that’s what they’re thinking.)

      I have yet to see an economist saying, it’s time to readjust our expectations …because…what you said.

      It’s something I simply cannot figure out.

  22. j says:

    Canada, Germany, Australia and all Western countries need immigration to stabilize their populations. The problem is that there are no desirable immigrants available. Traditional sources in Europe have dried up after WWII and all that remains is the Third World. Trying to pick out from the mass of colonial would be immigrants the educated, the high IQ, etc. cannot ameliorate the accepting population because (1) once inside, the immigrants bring in their extended families that are not of the same quality, (2) the second generation of the immigrants “returns to the mean”, that is the mean of their original population.

    The best strategy is to wait for those rare events that uproot high-quality population and cause them to look for a new country, and to exploit this transitory situation. For example, the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, the Fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the Soviet Union. Ultimately, vegetative growth is the only solution.

    • Frau Katze says:

      Canada, Germany, Australia and all Western countries need immigration to stabilize their populations.

      I am not buying the “stabilize” argument, not for us, not for Japan.

      Let the population fall. So what? Humanity has lived through far, far worse predictiments over the eons.

      The economy may not boom but tough. Retirees might be badly off. Let their kids help them. No kids? Well, they kind of asked for it, didn’t they?

      The population won’t fall forever. The earth is overpopulated and I think this one the things causing couples to have either fewer or no children.

      As the crisis eases, and crowding drops, they’ll start having kids again.

      The alternative—a flood of 3rd worlders—will guarantee collapse or other highly unsavoury outcomes.

      • j says:

        Your philosophy may make some sense for an island nation like Japan, surrounded by decrepit peaceful populations, but not for the West that is surrounded by exploding, desperate, aggressive third world populations.

        • Jim says:

          Japan is a highly mountainous country only a small part of which is arable. The quality of life of the Japanese will ultimately be greatly improved with a smaller population.

        • Jim says:

          Of course it is the economist’s ideology of endless growth that leads to these exploding, desperate, aggressive populations.

          • j says:

            Jim, You are giving way too much credit to ideology and the economist.

            • Jim says:

              No doubt you’re right. But endless growth does lead to exploding, desperate and aggressive populations.

              Speaking of population size that is one very important difference between the situation today in regard to the conflict between the West and Islam and the situation in the past. Throughout most of the history of that conflict the West had a strong numerical preponderance. This was true particularly before the final conquest of Anatolia. In late Medieval times the population of France was bigger than the entire population of North Africa. Today Egypt alone has a population of about 92 million. Turkey has a population of about 85 million compared to Greece’s 11 million. The population balance between Europe and Islam has shifted dramatically in favor of Islam.

              • Saldo says:

                The population growing you’re on about has been enabled by Western interference.

              • Saldo says:

                The significantly higher population of European territories against MENA or Tropical African territories can be blamed on more effective methods to support populations. Conversely, the population gap can be blamed getting urbanized with both earlier and more thoroughly alongside effective birth control.

        • guest says:

          If western nations had decided that they did not want any immigration from low-IQ countries it could have been easily enforced I think. We do not need equal numbers when we are so technologically superior.

          Israel manages to do it now.

          • Jim says:

            Certainly the West has the military technology to stop this invasion but it seems to lack the will to do so. However the population balance is still important. There is no way that Arabs could have overrun the West in Medieval times. There were no way near enough Arabs to have done that. It wouldn’t have made much difference in the long run if Charles Martel had lost at Poitiers.

            • gcochran9 says:

              Coming in out of the Arabian peninsula, there were never all that many Arabs in the first place. But, like the pastoralists of Central Asia, the average Arab was a match for a professional soldier of the sedentary peoples.

              They were outnumbered in Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Iran: but they overran and transformed them. They expanded against the population gradient.

              If they had won at Tours, perhaps they could have done the same again.

              • Jim says:

                There were excellent soldiers but I think their chances of over-running the much larger European populations at that time were pretty slim. The Byzantines pushed them back out of most of Anatolia and the Western part of Anatolia which was much more densely populated than most of the Middle East generally remained under Byzantine rule until the coming of the Mongols and the Turks.

                Fairly soon and well before the Crusades the Europeans began to push back in Spain, Sicily, Crete, etc.

              • st says:

                Arab’s land forces were nearly exterminated by the Bulgars during two battles in 717-718 AD which put the siege of Constantinople and arab invasion in Europe to an end.
                “The Bulgarians….. ostensibly because of the looming Arab threat, came to the aid of the besieged city. The Arabs……, were devastated by a Bulgarian attack against their land forces in July. Contemporary chroniclers report at least 30,000 Arabs died in the first Bulgar attack……Unable to continue the siege in the face of the Bulgarian onslaught and lack of successes, the Arabs were forced to abandon their ambitions”….”..This battle was a severe blow to Caliph Umar II and the expansion of the Umayyad Caliphate was severely stunted during his reign.” (http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/imperialism/notes/constantinoplesiege.html)

          • Frau Katze says:

            Of course it could be done. Europe could be finding and sinking any boat carrying “migrants”. That would stop them very quickly.

            For a more humane approach, see Australia. Indonesians were running boats to Christmas Island. The Aussies invested in some sink-proof lifeboats. They look a bit like a submarine. So they spent a few million for them. The boat people were put in the lifeboats and pointed back to Indonesia.

            The traffic dried up quickly. Europe, more populous but with greater resources could do the same. But they’re governed by fools.

            On the land routes, Europe could build fences on the Israeli model.

            • Jim says:

              Yes, certainly. There is no significant military problem in stopping the invasion. But if the military advantage is not used then it may as well not exist.

            • Jim says:

              The shift in population balance however has been remarkable. In 1890 the population of France was about 40 million while the native population of Algeria was about 2.5 million. Today France has a population of about 67 million and Algeria has a population of about 40 million.

  23. Warren Notes says:

    How can we expect the public to understand the relevance of immigration practices for influencing IQ when we’re dishonest as a society about the importance of IQ? Put simply, IQ increases job performance across the board. Schmidt and Hunter recognized this and even calculated the impact of IQ in monetary terms. I’m sure that – given the growth of technology since they did their work, IQ is more relevant than ever. It’s also been demonstrated (not surprising) – that IQ is significant in terms of readiness for job training.Yet we’ve institutionalized wrong premises about IQ by writing them into employment law. For example, the 4/5 rule says that hiring by a company must represent (with some wiggle room granted) the racial distribution within a surrounding geographic area. As no account is taken of the variance in IQ between those groups, we have to assume that the underlying assumption of this rule is that there is none. Employment law also states that any assessment for selection is alright if it’s job relevant, i.e., a bona fide occupational qualification. To administer an IQ test for selection to a diverse population invites violation of the 4/5 rule, and it’s hard to argue (because people are ignorant and dishonest) that high intelligence is a bona fide occupational qualification – even though it is, for virtually any job. As a result, decisions about selection assessments for many jobs is now a willy-nilly process. Instead of performing a systematic job analysis, as was done in the past for traditional factory and process plant jobs (a great many of which no longer exist or have been moved abroad) – some no-nothing HR functionary merely selects from a list of “Competencies,” purchased from a contractor or possibly written in-house after consulting the wisdom of the internet. This whole picture is a big driver of using college credentials as a qualifier, even for occupations no one believed required them half a century ago.

    If we reformed the system and admitted that IQ matters, we also would have a chance to salvage native talent who (perhaps because of cultural influences or a small-town lack of awareness) didn’t take an SAT in High School, get a scholarship, and leave home to pursue an education. They are out there. But identifying them and hiring them based on the results of an IQ test is not going to happen, given the current system, its regulations, and the EEOC.

    • Y Yn says:

      The Pareto law applies. High IQ is only most likely to affect outcomes if it is high-IQ labour.

      Routine, simple, non-changing tasks do not see appreciable gains with high IQ relative to low IQ unless the high IQ individual overtakes his or her boss and seizes the business altogether or makes a clone business that is more efficient or does something that is better. It is a net loss to society that we do not stream high IQ people to high IQ professions and that we introduce so much noise in the hiring process such as despotism, number of experiences earned in the past, variable personality traits and whatnot which are completely irrelevant to the success of the candidate in the given job except those most related to it (i.e. hospitality to customer service).

  24. Dr. Cochran, can you comment on Donald Hoffman and his theories concerning perception vs reality?

    Interface Theory paper: http://www.cogsci.uci.edu/~ddhoff/Interface_Theory_2
    TedTalk here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYp5XuGYqqY
    Somewhat more interesting Q&A here: https://www.quantamagazine.org/20160421-the-evolutionary-argument-against-reality/

  25. shin_getter says:

    I don’t think the composition of national population is what matters here. The externality corrected wage differential is what signals need for labor flow. (which do not necessarily point to any particular direction)

    Immigration from non-functional places to the first world can often result in a massive jump in wage rate, which signals a massive increase in productivity. Depending on how one does the accounting the projected numbers from immigration can be stupidly large.

    In theory, the gains from this increase in efficiency can be redistributed to those that lost out from changes and In the world of spherical humans the social, political and structure problems can be solved. Looking at those big numbers and how one balances them out, it may be that democracy, welfare and fictive equality between people inside a society can be thrown out to realize it.
    Much replicable social science suggests that these natives don’t see their lives as being massively improved in the era of mass immigration. Because they haven’t been. Economically or socially. (“Coming Apart,” “The White Death,” “Bowling Alone,” “The Yale Problem Begins in High School”)
    I think economist’s tools for measuring utility is increasingly diverging from reality as things higher up on the maslow’s hierarchy is not supplied by market mechanisms. The increase in productivity just result in intensification of zero sum competition and new capitalist methods at monetizing things that used to be outside the market while making it worst overall (eg. social networking).

    A better car or shinier cellphone really shouldn’t resulting in lasting sense of well being given that it is unrelated to evolutionary goals.

  26. M2 says:

    In addition to the easier complementary trade argument, and the age structure argument:

    Migrants tend to move to more urban, economically active and high productivity parts of the receiving country. Take – https://www2.bc.edu/ivan-p-petkov/assets/fps_ancestry.pdf (“over the broad sweep of US. history since 1850 people from high-income countries tend to live in lower income counties on average… The big driver of the correlation is the historical legacy of settlement, particularly among the English … Later migrants, such as the Italians or Irish, while poor when they arrived, went to cities and prosperous areas, especially in the North-East.”). Still true today and matters for why Ashkenazis and Chinese punch well above what would be expected from their (considerable) IQ.
    From a UK perspective, migrant groups don’t seem to keep lower education over time. In the UK, all migrant groups now show higher average GCSE results, and have higher rates of postsecondary education.

    This is all especially true even when SES background and CAT scores are controlled for (e.g. SES and CAT advantages to the White British minority make educational achievement more even than it otherwise would be). There is a PISA advantage still for White British (PISA should be less sensitive to hard work than achievement), but the set of all migrants is still well within West European norms (and no, this is not due to Chinese and high caste Indians; not enough of them). Things are much the same in the US, but worse in continental Europe.

    Cognitive deficits may not always be as large as thought for many migrant groups (http://akarlin.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/pupil-background-cat-scores.jpg – Pakistan and Bangladeshi migrants to Britain about IQ 97 for non-verbal and quantitative reasoning).

    In the case of the UK at least, in addition to a more youthful population, this all adds to migration generally bringing more people to economically active areas, who invest more in education, potentially enough to offset lower cognitive ability.

  27. Warren Notes says:

    I think we’re pretty far from public awareness of IQ differences in immigration – because we’re also pretty far away from awareness of differences as the apply to our own population. Misconceptions of reality like the idea that the 4/5 rule in hiring reveals prima facie discrimination are included in regulations that have been given the force of law. There’s also been a softening of standards by replacing IQ with “Competencies” selected by some HR drone from a list purchased from a consultant or arbitrarily culled from the internet. Schmidt and Hunter believed that IQ contributes to performance on all jobs, and even calculated its economic impact – but the consensus is that employment law forbids the exclusive use of any assessment unless it is “job related,” and this means, in most cases, no use of IQ tests. If we allowed them to be used at the discretion of all employers, some high-IQ types without a college education could be identified immediately and put on a fast track. This might get it across to the general public that IQ matters…and they would start to think about this in the context of immigration as well.

  28. Pingback: This Week In Reaction (2017/04/23) - Social Matter

  29. Pingback: If Immigration Is So Good for the American Economy, Why Don’t Economists Propose Annexing Canada?

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  31. I love Greg’s argument in this piece. However, my friend ventured the fairly obvious objection that while low-IQ, poorly educated, terrible English-speaking Hispanics will do the jobs Americans won’t, Canadian immigrants won’t. There would therefore be no point in importing the latter to do menial jobs (if there are indeed any such jobs left). Is it possible that low-IQ immigrants are a boon to a modern economy by doing such jobs? And if so, for how much longer?

    • Warren Notes says:

      Could it be that we have fostered a dependency on benefits that has weakened the will to work? Could it be that cutting off all government benefits to citizens (and their dependents) who refuse to take jobs, no matter how menial, would strengthen their will to work? Wouldn’t some who were forced to work, who have a reasonable IQ, soon be inspired to improve themselves in order to avoid menial work? Finally, would a system like this not inspire greater respect for work itself, including menial work? It seems to me we now have a lot of people who contribute very little to our competitiveness who indulge themselves in looking down upon those who do menial jobs – rather than respecting them as law-abiding, tax-paying citizens. I once entered a restroom in an airport to hear one African-American gentleman berating another African-American gentleman who was mopping the floor = asking him why he would do that kind of work in that kind of environment – and i’m cleaning up what he said to a ludicrous degree with that paraphrase. I came from a small town environment in which the norm was that if you worked, paid your taxes, and mowed your lawn, you weren’t to be ridiculed about your station in life. Yes, some violated that, but those were the real jerks. It’s a pretty good norm.

      • Come the collapse we’re all going to all be out hoeing in the fields, under the blazing sun, desperately working to survive.

        ‘But where am I going to keep my pearl necklace, to keep it clean?’ ‘Hey man, my iPad might get broken.’

        Not bloody likely. Ask anybody who has been in a PoW camp. Humans – at least those with a strong will to live – quickly learn to make do with reality.

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