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Generational Accounting and Immigration in the United States

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  • Alan J. Auerbach
  • Philip Oreopoulos

Abstract

In recent years, the renewed strength of immigration to the United States has sparked a debate about the economic effects of immigration. A central issue in this debate has been the fiscal impact of immigrants. Most research in this area has adopted a static, cross-section approach in assessing the net impact of immigrants on the economy's fiscal position. However, a dynamic approach is important because of the age dependency of many government tax and expenditure programs, and necessary to take the descendents of immigrants into account. This paper reconsiders the fiscal impact of immigrants over time, using the technique of generational accounting. We may summarize our results with three findings: 1. Because new immigrants represent a larger fraction of future generations than of present ones, shifting the burden onto future generations also shifts it, relatively, onto new immigrants. Thus, if the entire fiscal imbalance currently estimated for the United States is placed on future generations, then the presence of new immigrants reduces the burden borne by natives. 2. When a policy of fiscal responsibility' is followed, whether there is a fiscal gain from immigration depends on the extent to which government purchases rise with the immigrant population. 3. The impact of immigration on fiscal balance is extremely small relative to the size of the overall imbalance itself. Thus, immigration should be viewed neither as a major source of the existing imbalance, nor as a potential solution to it.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7041.

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Date of creation: Mar 1999
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Publication status: Published as "Tax Policy and Business Fixed Investment in the United States", Journal of Public Economics, Vol. 47, no. 2 (1992): 141-170.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7041

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  1. Hans Fehr & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1995. "Generational Accounting in General Equilibrium," NBER Working Papers 5090, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Jagadeesh Gokhale & Benjamin R. Page & John Sturrock, 1999. "Generational Accounts for the United States: An Update," NBER Chapters, in: Generational Accounting around the World, pages 489-518 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Alan J. Auerbach & Jagadeesh Gokhale & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1991. "Generational Accounts - A Meaningful Alternative to Deficit Accounting," NBER Working Papers 3589, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Auerbach, Alan J. & Kotlikoff, Laurence J. & Leibfritz, Willi (ed.), 1999. "Generational Accounting around the World," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226032139.
  5. Kotlikoff, L.J. & Raffelhuschen, B., 1999. "Generational Accounting around the Globe," Norway; Department of Economics, University of Bergen 195, Department of Economics, University of Bergen.
  6. Philip Oreopoulos & Alan J. Auerbach, 1999. "Analyzing the Fiscal Impact of U.S. Immigration," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 176-180, May.
  7. Alan J. Auerbach & Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Willi Leibfritz, 1999. "The Methodology of Generational Accounting," NBER Chapters, in: Generational Accounting around the World, pages 31-42 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Shimasawa, Manabu & Oguro, Kazumasa & Masujima, Minoru, 2014. "Population Aging, Policy Reforms, and Lifetime Net Tax Rate in Japan: A Generational Accounting Approach," CIS Discussion paper series 625, Center for Intergenerational Studies, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  2. Karin Mayr, 2005. "The Fiscal Impact of Immigrants in Austria – A Generational Accounting Analysis," Empirica, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 181-216, 06.
  3. Istvan Konya, 2001. "Optimal Immigration, Assimilation and Trade," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 507, Boston College Department of Economics.
  4. Philip Oreopoulos & Alan J. Auerbach, 1999. "Analyzing the Fiscal Impact of U.S. Immigration," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 176-180, May.
  5. Arnaud Dellis, 2002. "Comptabilité générationnelle en Europe," Économie et Prévision, Programme National Persée, vol. 154(3), pages 25-30.
  6. Laurence Kotlikoff, 2005. "Pension and medicost reform - averting the demoghaphic/fiscal demise," CESifo Forum, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 6(4), pages 37-41, December.
  7. Karin Mayr, 2004. "The fiscal impact of immigrants in Austria--a generational accounting analysis," Economics working papers 2004-09, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.

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