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Diversity and Immigration

  • Edward P. Lazear

One of the economic benefits of immigration is that the diversity of the population is enhanced. Diversity, it is argued, enriches the environment in which individuals live and trade and may contribute to greater creativity. What does diversity mean? Do current immigration policies enhance diversity? To the extent that there are gains from diversity, they come through the interaction of individuals from one culture or background with individuals from another. A good partner in the interaction has different skills, has skills that are relevant to one's own activity, and is a person with whom one can communicate. The argument in favor of diversity is evaluated both theoretically and empirically using the 1990 Census. Diversity cannot be the justification of U.S. immigration policy. Indeed, current immigration policy fails to promote diversity. Further, the results suggest that our immigration policy has resulted in differences in the characteristics of immigrants that reflect the effects of selection as much as they do the underlying characteristics of the populations from which the immigrants are drawn. Balanced immigration, perhaps implemented through the sale of immigration slots, would do more to enrich the diversity of the US population.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6535.

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Date of creation: Apr 1998
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Publication status: published as Diversity and Immigration , Edward P. Lazear. in Issues in the Economics of Immigration , Borjas. 2000
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6535
Note: LS
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  1. David Card, 1989. "The Impact of the Mariel Boatlift on the Miami Labor Market," Working Papers 633, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  2. Edward P. Lazear, 1995. "Culture and Language," NBER Working Papers 5249, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. George J. Borjas, 1994. "The Economics of Immigration," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(4), pages 1667-1717, December.
  4. Robert J. LaLonde & Robert H. Topel, 1991. "Labor Market Adjustments to Increased Immigration," NBER Chapters, in: Immigration, Trade, and the Labor Market, pages 167-199 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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