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Send me your not retired, your poor, your PhDs…

18 November 2010

Immigration Clearinghouse looks at the BBVA-Bancomer immigration study which received some coverage north of the border.  Usually wrong coverage, but some.

If it wasn’t for the boneheads at Fox News, there probably would have been no coverage at all… which is a shame, since what BBVA-Bancomer researchers unearth shows a very different picture of immigration (and “illegal” immigration) than the assumptions and stereotypes surrounding Mexican emigrants.

Migration from Mexico is driven 71% by the U.S. economy, 15% by Mexico’s, and 14% by higher U.S. wages…

…if all immigration to the United States ceased today, by 2050, a full 40 percent of the working-age population (over age 15) would be 65 and older…

While the average Mexican worker has slightly more than eight years of school, those who go north have almost 10… A Mexican with a doctorate degree is four times more likely to move to the States than one with elementary schooling, and three times as likely to head North as one with a high school education.

Obviously, just creating more jobs within Mexico does very little to stem migration. Jobs that pay well (and more jobs requiring higher education) will. I admit I’m surprised by this too… given that so many of the migrants are farm workers and/or displaced farmers. My sense is were Mexican wages to rise enough to meet the needs of rural and less-educated Mexican workers, many of these potential migrants would consider staying home as well.

Of course, “doing the jobs Americans won’t do” is going to still require migrants, and even in bad economic times, not many U.S. citizens are going to opt for the jobs we associate with migrants (farm labor, etc.). And, without migration, the U.S. population would be much, much older as a whole (requiring migrant nurses… and doctors… and PhDs).

I suppose — given that Mexico is going to depend on foreign remittances for some time and better-educated people generally earn more money — it might be cost effective to invest here in “over education”. That is, while right now Mexican doesn’t have jobs for every school graduate, at least we can send out graduates who can send back more money from higher paychecks.

Some serious rethinking is in order here.

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