September 28, 2005

Economists' infatuation with immigration

An economist writes:

In my view, economists have to be relatively favorable toward immigration, just as we have to be relatively favorable to free trade in general. It's our job to lean against xenophobia.

Thanks for clearing that up! Silly me, it had always been my impression that the job of economists was to tell the truth to the best of their abilities, but now I know better.

The funny thing is that you would think that economists, who are always extolling self-interest, would have observed the career of George Borjas and taken note that telling the truth about immigration, an underserved economic niche is there ever was one, can pay off big. In 1995, Borjas was hired away from UC San Diego (a nice locale but not the Ivy League) by Harvard precisely because he had made himself the leading expert on the economics of immigration, a subject of obvious national and international importance. Borjas now has an endowed chair at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Not too shabby, huh?

So, has there been a rush of studies of immigration by economists wanting to follow Borjas's path to the top of their profession? Nope. Economists will barely touch the subject, despite its massive centrality, except to issue fatuous obiter dicta about their feelings about how immigration just has to be wonderful.

Here's a ripe topic for an economist to study: what's wrong with the economics profession?

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

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