Amidst Swine Flu Mayhem, Remember Benefits Of Immigration

A new study shows that educated immigrants on temporary visas are more likely to create businesses.

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The swine flu outbreak has given immigration opponents a new threat to harp upon as a reason to close the borders.

It's quite debatable we should even count the swine flu as a cost of an open immigration policy (which, to be clear, the US does not have). But I'll let other people carry on that debate. Instead, I'd like to point to more empirical evidence about the benefits more immigration brings to the American entrepreneurial sector. (See previous evidence here.)

The National Bureau of Economic Research has a new working paper by Jennifer Hunt, an economist at McGill University.

Using the 2003 National Survey of College Graduates, I show that immigrants who originally entered the United States on temporary work visas or on student/trainee visas... are more likely than natives to start a successful company, suggesting that immigrants have a niche in startups based on technical knowledge from master's and doctoral degrees.

We often hear about immigrants "taking jobs" form Americans, but rarely do we hear about the jobs they create.

What's interesting, though, is that this advantage for immigrants only applies to those on temporary visas--Hunt did not find that immigrants who arrive with permanent legal residence aren't more likely to be successful at startups than native-born Americans. I can only speculate, but that difference might say a lot about how hard it is to get legal residence. Productive, highly-educated immigrants instead take the easier, visa route.

small business

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