When is a Worker More than a Worker?
By Amy Willis
As I mentioned earlier this week over at EconLog, this week’s EconTalk episode, while not without controversy, was a breath of fresh air amidst the vitriolic discussion of immigration on the interwebs and in the media these days…I was heartened to listen to a reasoned, civil conversation on the topic, and it made me again optimistic that civil discourse remains possible. To be sure, host Russ Roberts and Harvard economist George Borjas didn’t agree on everything, and of course that’s also what made the conversation interesting.
We hope you’ll join us in continuing in this civil spirit by sharing your reaction to this week’s episode in the comments below. Here are some prompts to get you started:
1. What is the significance of the title of Borjas’s book? How does he hope it will affect the way people think about immigration policy?
2. How can it be possible to increase the overall size of the “economic pie” through trade from globalization, at the same time that globalization through immigration decreases the size of the pie, according to Borjas?
3. Roberts, in agreement with Borjas, admits short-run costs of immigration to domestic workers. What is his response to these costs, and why does Borjas charge that Roberts is making an ideological, rather than an economic, claim? To what extent is Borjas right?
4. Benjamin Powell’s 2010 Feature Article on immigration is one of Econlib’s all-time most popular pieces. How would Borjas respond to Powell?
5. Roberts and Borjas spend the last part of the conversation discussing assimilation. How do immigrants’ ability to assimilate affect their economic outcomes? Should assimilation be a factor in crafting immigration policy? What does is mean “to assimilate” today, anyway?