Friday, May 16, 2008

Does Immigration Import Poverty?

I've got to do something about my blogreader. I got back from a series of meetings and there were 421 posts unread, ugh. I'm a bit torn about this topic though (National Review):

A couple of weeks back, Statistics Canada reported that, after adjustment for inflation, Canadian wage-earners are earning less than in 1980. For example, in British Columbia the median wage-earner earns 11.3% less than a quarter-century ago.
So a columnist came out pretty aggressively for the idea that it's because of immigration - and immigration specifically from unskilled workers in Asia. My parents were immigrants from Hong Kong and yet I find myself sympathetic to this view that without integration there are some immigrants who "settle into ethnic ghettos where they are vulnerable to exploitation, including lousy under-the-table wages." As I've noted, my parents and my family in general came over, and became one of the relatively few Chinese families in the area at the time (vs the now possibly even large majorities of ethnic minorities in both the faculties and student populations at both universities within certain disciplines).

Not all of them came over being educated but I think all our relatives (with the exception of my grandmothers) came over as students. At the time I think they were forced to integrate as a matter of survival. I don't think that's the case now. There are vast swaths of areas in Toronto and Vancouver where you can get by without speaking any English at all and with minimal incentives (or ability) to pursue similar opportunities as others. The problem isn't immigration but rather how immigrants integrate. There was after all a reason immigrants came over in the first place.

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