ReportA dozen facts around immigrationRyan Nunn, Jimmy O’Donnell, and Jay ShambaughTuesday, October 9, 2018


The unified States has actually been shaped by succeeding waves of immigrant from the come of the very first colonists v the present day. Immigration has wide-ranging impacts on society and culture, and its financial effects are no much less substantial. By changing population levels and population growth, immigration augments both supply and demand in the economy. Immigrants are more likely to work (and to it is in working-age); they likewise tend come hold different occupations and also educational levels than natives. By the 2nd generation (the native-born kids of immigrants), though, the financial outcomes of immigrant neighborhoods exhibit striking convergence towards those of indigenous communities.

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Ryan Nunn

Assistant Vice president for applied Research in Community breakthrough - federal Reserve bank of Minneapolis


Jimmy O’Donnell

Former an elderly Research Assistant - The Hamilton Project


Jay Shambaugh

Nonresident an elderly Fellow - financial Studies


This file provides a collection of financial facts around the duty of immigration in the U.S. Economy. It updates a document from The Hamilton project on the very same subject (Greenstone and also Looney 2010), when introducing additional data and research. We describe the trends of recent immigration (levels, legal status, nation of origin, and also U.S. State that residence), the features of immigrant (education, occupations, and also employment), and the impacts of immigrant on the economy (economic output, wages, innovation, fiscal resources, and crime).

In 2017 immigrants made up virtually 14 percent the the U.S. Population, a sharp increase from in history low rates of the 1960s and also 1970s, yet a level typically reached in the 19th century. Offered native-born Americans’ reasonably low bear rates, immigrants and their youngsters now provide essentially every the net prime-age population growth in the united States.

These an easy facts suggest that immigrants room taking top top a larger role in the U.S. Economy. This function is not exactly the exact same as the of native-born Americans: immigrants have tendency to occupational in various jobs with various skill levels. However, in spite of the dimension of the foreign-born population, immigrants often tend to have reasonably small effects on the earnings of native-born workers. In ~ the exact same time, immigrants normally have positive effects on both federal government finances and the creation that leader to efficiency growth.

Immigration policy is frequently hotly discussed for a range of factors that have tiny to do with a mindful assessment that the evidence. Us at The Hamilton job put front this collection of facts to help carry out an proof base for plan discussions the is obtained from data and research.

Chapter 1. Just how Immigration Has adjusted over Time

Fact 1:The foreign-born share of the U.S. Populace has returned to its late-19th-century level.

Immigrants have always been component of the American story, despite immigration has waxed and also waned end time. Immigration throughout the second fifty percent of the 19th century lifted the foreign-born re-publishing of the populace to 14percent. Starting in the 1910s, however, immigrant to the unified States fell precipitously, and also the foreign-born re-superstructure of the population reached a historical low of 4.7percent in 1970.

This drop arisen in big part because of policy alters that minimal immigration right into the unified States. Start with late-19th-century and early-20th-century policies that to be directed against immigrants from particular countries—for example, the Chinese exemption Act that 1882—the federal federal government then implemented an extensive national beginning quotas and also other restrictions, reducing full immigration inflows from much more than 1million immigrants every year in the late 1910s to just 165,000 by 1924 (Abramitzky and also Boustan 2017; boy name 2010). Economic turmoil during the an excellent Depression and also two world wars also contributed to declining immigration and also a lower foreign-born portion through the center of the 20th century (Blau and also Mackie 2017).

In the second half of the 20th century, a series of immigrant reforms—including the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act—repealed nationwide origin quotas and implemented family members reunification and also skilled immigration policies. In 1986 amnesty was listed to many world who to be living in the United states without documentation (Clark, Hatton, and also Williamson 2007). Unauthorized immigrant was approximated at around 500,000 in the early on 2000s, yet has because dropped sharply to a around zero network inflow (Blau and Mackie 2017).

The foreign-born portion of the population rose steadily from 1970 come its 2017 level of 13.7percent. From 2001–14, legit immigration increased to approximately 1 million every year, noting a return to the level the the at an early stage 20th century, however now representing a much smaller share of the complete U.S. Population. Today, over there is a large variation the the foreign-born population across states, ranging from under 5percent in components of the Southeast and also Midwest to end 20percent in California, Florida, new Jersey, and new York (Bureau of labor Statistics 2017; authors’ calculations).


Fact 2:The rising foreign-born re-superstructure is driven by both immigration flows and also low fertility that native-born individuals.

Though the foreign-born portion has increased to the late-19th-century levels, the network migration price is just half the level the prevailed around 1900 (Blau and also Mackie 2017). With declining native-born population growth in current years, even a decreased level of net migration has actually been sufficient to raise the foreign-born fraction (see number 2a).

Figure 2b mirrors that recent growth in the variety of prime-age youngsters of immigrant has continued at more than 3 percent, supporting as whole U.S. Populace growth. By contrast, the population growth rate of prime-age kids of aboriginal parents has actually fallen from an mean of 0.2 percent over the 1995–2005 period to an median of –0.5 percent end the 2006–17 period. The populace growth of first-generation immigrants remains reasonably high—1.8percent on median from 2006 to 2017—but has actually fallen together net migration has actually slowed. Thus, the ongoing rise that the foreign-born re-publishing of the populace since 1990 does no reflect a rise in immigration but rather a slowing migration rate linked with slowing growth in the populace of children of natives.

From 1960 come 2016 the U.S. Total fertility rate fell from 3.65 to 1.80 (World financial institution n.d.). Demographers and economists think that this decline was driven by a arsenal of factors, consisting of enhanced access to contraceptive technology, transforming norms, and also the rising opportunity expense of raising kids (Bailey 2010). Together women’s job market avenues improve, child-rearing becomes relatively much more expensive. Feyrer, Sacerdote, and also Stern (2008) keep in mind that in nations where women have outside choices but guys share little of the child-care responsibilities, fertility has actually fallen even more.

Population expansion is vital for both budget stability and also robust financial growth. Social Security and also Medicare come to be more complicated to money as the working-age populace declines relative to the elderly population. (See reality 11 because that a broader discussion the immigrants’ budget impacts.) Moreover, all at once economic development depends to an important extent top top a cultivation labor pressure (see reality 8).


Fact 3:About three-quarters the the foreign-born populace are naturalized citizens or authorized residents.

There are countless ways in i beg your pardon immigrants concerned the united States and participate in this country’s economic and also social life. As of 2014 many in the foreign-born population had achieved U.S. Citizenship (43.6percent), if others had legal long-term resident standing (26.9percent), and still others were temporary citizens with authorization to live in the nation (4.0percent). The remaining 25.5percent of foreign-born occupants are approximated to it is in unauthorized immigrants, as shown in number 3. This is down from an estimated 28percent in 2009 (Passel and Cohn 2011).

Unauthorized immigrants room the focus of intense policy and also research attention. Some features of this immigrants may be surprising: for example, more than 75percent of all unauthorized immigrants have lived in the United states for more than 10 years. This point out a sharp increase from 2007, as soon as an estimated 44.5percent to be at least 10-year residents. Moreover, only 18.9percent that unauthorized immigrants are estimated to it is in 24 or younger, and 75.1percent space in the element working-age (25–54) team (Baker 2017).

There has likewise been special plan attention payment to those who gotten in the United claims as children, including the Deferred activity for Childhood come (DACA) policy presented in 2012 to enable temporary partial legal status to those who pertained to the United states as children, who are currently 15–31 years old, who have actually committed no crimes, and also who have been in the United states continuously because 2007. Roughly 800,000 world have offered the program and estimates suggest 1.3million to be eligible (about 10percent the the undocumented population) (Robertson 2018). Other proposed legislation—the American hope Act—could impact as numerous as 3.5million world (a third of the undocumented population) (Batalova et al. 2017).

The regards to immigrants’ residency are important for their labor sector outcomes, and potentially for the impacts they have actually on native-born workers. Without authorized status and documentation, foreign-born residents likely have little bargaining power in the workforce and are exposed come a greater risk that mistreatment (Shierholz 2018).


Fact 4:80 percent that immigrants today come native Asia or Latin America, while in 1910 an ext than 80 percent the immigrants come from Europe.

The nations of origin of immigrants to the United states have readjusted dramatically end the previous century. Number 4a reflects that in the early 20th century the overwhelming majority of migrants start the United states came native Europe. (The areas of the rectangles amount to 100 percent the the complete foreign-born populace in every year.) Although immigrants were mainly from western Europe, far-ranging numbers arrived from eastern Europe and Scandinavia as well. Today, the assembly of U.S. Immigrants is lot different: virtually 60percent the the foreign-born emigrated either from Mexico (which accounting for only 1.6percent that the foreign-born in 1910) or asian countries (which accounting foronly 1.4 percent in 1910).

India and China currently account for the biggest share (6.5 and also 4.7percent of every immigrants, respectively) among Asian immigrants, when El Salvador (3.4percent) and also Cuba (2.9percent) are the major origin countries in Latin America (after Mexico). Together of 2017 immigrant from Germany account for the biggest share the European immigrant (only 1.1percent of every immigrants).

While the nations of origin may be different, over there is some similarity in the economic instances of the origin countries in 1910 and today. GDP per capita of Ireland and also Italy in 1913 to be 45.4 and also 33.7percent, respectively, of U.S. Per capita revenue in 1913, yet today west European GDP per capita is much closer come the U.S. Level.

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<2> In 2016 Mexico’s every capita revenue was 29.8percent of every capita revenue in the United states (Bolt et al. 2018). Then together now large numbers of immigrants were drawn to relatively strong economic avenues in the United says (Clark, Hatton, and Williamson 2007).