Thursday, September 04, 2008

Narrow View of Social Welfare

Samuleson writes about America's Economic Report Card:
Similarly, if the immigration of low-skilled workers continues unabated -- whether they're legal or illegal -- the ranks of the poor will swell, as will the uninsured or the costs of providing government insurance.
I'm not faulting Samuelson for reporting this way because he is discussing the interpretation of the report card, whose focus is on America. However, it gives the impression that social welfare is declining because low skilled immigrants move to the United States.

U.S. Poverty Statistics
, no doubt, increase. A broader view though is that an immigrant crosses an imaginary line and experiences an almost automatic increase in their standard of living. They were poor before they made it into the United States, but broadening the view of social welfare to at least two countries (the immigrant's home country and the U.S.) demonstrates the actual effect, which is that a poor person is less poor than before.

Hat Tip: Mankiw

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