Monthly Archive for July, 2006

Latino Immigrant Values And Integration

Just how well do Latino values and integration stack up against the typical United States citizen? Economist Tyler Cowen and Daniel M. Rothschild answer that here:

Despite claims to the contrary, census data show that most Latino immigrants learn and speak English quite well. Only about 2.5 percent of American residents speak Spanish but not English. The majority of residents of Spanish-speaking households speak English “very well.”

Only 7 percent of the children of Latino immigrants speak Spanish as a primary language, and virtually none of their children do. Just as they did a century ago, immigrants largely come knowing little English. But they learn, and their children use it as a primary language. The United States is not becoming a bilingual nation…

The family has long been the core social unit in America, and immigrants share that value. Census data show that 62 percent of immigrants over age 15 are married, compared to 52 percent of natives. Only 6 percent of Latino adults are divorced, compared with 10 percent of whites and 12 percent of African Americans. Latino immigrants are more likely to live in multigenerational households rather than just visiting grandparents a couple of times a year.

Most Latino immigrants want to become U.S. citizens. This process takes years, so recent immigrants are not a good barometer. But according to the 2000 Census, the majority of Latinos who entered the United States before 1980 have become citizens. And second-generation immigrants are more likely to marry natives than immigrants, further assimilating their children. The majority of immigrants also own their own homes, a key part of the American dream.

Immigrants from Central and South America share the American predilection for hard work and economic advancement. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that Hispanic men are more likely than white men to be in the labor force. While immigrant Latinas initially lag behind native women, Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn of the National Bureau of Economic Research have shown that, despite initial inclinations to be stay-at-home moms, immigrant women quickly assimilate into the American workforce.

The children of Latino immigrants do especially well at work. James P. Smith of Rand Corp. has shown that the children and grandchildren of Latino immigrants come very close to closing educational and income gaps with native whites. This is the same as it has always been in American immigration: Newcomers know what keeps them outside the mainstream and work hard to make sure that their children do better. Immigrant Latino men make about half of what native whites do; their grandsons earn about 78 percent of the salaries of their native white friends.

Studies such as Smith’s, because they track trends over time, are better at discovering patterns of assimilation than studies that compare immigrants in 2006 to natives. The latter present a snapshot; they can’t demonstrate long-term trends.

It’s true that recent immigrants have not been closing the wage gap as fast as earlier immigrants. But David Card of the University of California at Berkeley, John DiNardo of the University of Michigan and Eugena Estes of Princeton attribute this to an increase in inequality nationwide. Controlling for this, Latino immigrants are doing as well as immigrants a century ago.

Of course, assimilation is not instantaneous. First-generation immigrants often hold on to the language and customs of the old country. Some immigrants ghettoize themselves and avoid the mainstream. But the overall patterns are far more positive than many recent debates have suggested.

Let’s not forget that assimilating into American culture means taking the bad with the good. Robert Sampson of Harvard has found that immigrants are 45 percent less likely than third-generation Americans to commit violent crime. Divorce rates increase with each generation.

For all the rhetoric on both sides, the evidence deserves a closer look. Latino immigrants, like generations of immigrants before, are entering the mainstream of life in the United States. Ours is the best country in the world at assimilating immigrants. This should be a badge of honor, and one that we wear proudly.

The full article can be found here.

Quote Of The Day

“There is a problem with his recommendation of the Jeffrey Sachs approach to alleviating poverty by sending taxed dollars to poor countries; it doesn’t seem to have worked so far. The experience with state-directed aid is not a very happy one and, if anything, has worked to increase poverty (and inequality), because it is directed by the generally predatory elites of the recipient states…Of greatest importance, the best way to reduce poverty is to increase wealth. As the late Peter Bauer, a pioneer of development economics, used to put it, poverty doesn’t really have causes; it’s the natural state of humanity. Wealth is what is caused. And it’s wealth that needs an explanation. We now have a rather good understanding of what causes wealth: good institutions. The most important institutions for producing more wealth are those associated with security of property and the freedom to exchange. A look at the data (all of which are publicly available for examination at www.freetheworld.com) makes it quite clear that wealth production is so positively correlated with economic freedom that one has to conclude that it is the cause, rather than, say, resources”. —Tom G. Palmer, in a discussion on When Does Inequality Matter at Cato Unbound

Quote Of The Day

“Concerning slavery, Americans never invented it or instituted it – we inherited it, and with such great discomfort that anti-slavery activists were far better represented among the founding fathers (Franklin, Adams, Hamilton) than those who made an active case for slavery. David Brion Davis, the Yale professor who’s written magisterially about the history of the peculiar institution, makes clear the positive role of the American Revolution and its ideals in giving life (after many millennia of slavery) to the abolitionist movement around the world that ultimately put an end to this savage oppression. The United States, in other words, played a unique, prominent role in ending the institution, but played no role in establishing it”. —Michael Medved, writing in Townhall

Quote Of The Day

“My mother arrived in Britain penniless, but fortunately for her—and for Britain—no one sought to persuade her that she need not learn English, and no one set up expensive and ineffective services for her in case she did not. She was not obliged to give up her tastes or conform in private respects, but she was expected (de facto) to blend into society as much as possible, rightly and reasonably, in my opinion. There was no ideology seeking to Balkanize the sensibilities of the population, enclose people in ghettoes and so forth, in the process acting as an employment opportunity for hordes of officials and bureaucrats. Although it is not a complete answer, a flexible labor market is very important, because there is nothing like work to integrate people. One of the problems in France is that youth unemployment is very high, and you only have to ask a plumber or a carpenter why he does not employ anyone to find out why. Thus, huge numbers of young immigrants or descendents of immigrants gather in one area—”social housing”—without realistic prospect of work”. —Theodore Dalrymple, writing at Cato Unbound on Integration and “Savage Liberalism”

Free Economic Education Videos (In Arabic Too!)

Development Bank Research Bulletin blog composes a list of “several classical TV series that you can watch in the evening when you have some free time”, classics like, Milton Friedman’s PBS TV series: Free to Choose (1980 and 1990 version) and PBS TV series: Commanding Height. All free, all educational, all economics.

Highly recommended for those interested in learning more about economics. The videos can be found here (Link via Newmarks Door). Arabic translations of some of the videos can be found here.

Update: The full PBS series, including the 1990 version is free for viewing here.

Quote Of The Day

“If I were in charge of the budget, we would massively reform entitlements, transforming Social Security into a system of forced savings combined with a means-tested fallback for those too poor to save, or whose investments tanked at the wrong time. We would kill the whole Medicare/Medicaid debacle, along with the tax deduction for corporate-provided health care benefits, replacing it all with catastrophic federal insurance for those whose medical bills exceed 15-20% of gross income (phasing out for those whose incomes put them in, say, the top .1% of earners) and another means-tested benefit for those who genuinely cannot afford to spend 15% of gross income on health care benefits. I would combine this with the Jane Galt Tax Plan to save the government a whole mess o’ money, while making the economy more efficient, and increasing the incentives for everyone, rich and poor alike, to create value for society. Forget Win-Win . . . that’s like Winwin!” —Jane Galt, an economist who blogs at Asymmetrical Information

The Difference Between ‘Old Europe’ And The United States

Historian Thomas C. Reeves, writing in the History News Network, details the differences between ‘Old Europe’ and the United States:

The United States has moved far ahead of every European country in every significant economic category. As Olaf Gersemann recently pointed out, “Adjusted for differences in price levels, per capita income in the United States now exceeds France by close to 40 percent. Germany and Italy lag even further behind.” If labor productivity continues on its recent path, Americans will double their per capita income by 2026, while Germans will increase theirs by only 44%.

Big government, high taxes (Germany’s government currently taxes away about 44% of the nation’s output), the welfare state, a zero sum mentality that often treats economic competition with disdain, low labor productivity, the failure to develop a dynamic service sector, and a falling birth rate have gravely weakened the future of the European nations. Public confidence has been badly shaken, resulting in what has been called a “crisis of the spirit” among Europeans.

In a Harris poll of 2002-2003, 57% of Americans said they were very satisfied with their life. In France the figure was 14%, in Germany, 17%, and in Italy 16%. When asked how they expected their personal situation to change in five years, 63% of Americans said it would improve. Only 20% of Germans shared that outlook, and only 42% of the French.

While the United States is experiencing jobless rates below 5%, Germany and France have double digit rates. A quarter of all workers under 25 in France, Germany, and Italy are unemployed. A poll conducted among 11,200 Europeans in 2005 showed that 81% of Germans, 58% of the French, and 38% of Italians cited unemployment as the most pressing problem facing their respective nations. When asked if “success is determined by forces outside our control,” only 32% of Americans agreed, while 68% of Germans, 66% of Italians, and 54% of the French took that position.

Ireland and Britain have chosen a different path, opting to be more like the Americans and promoting economic competition, low taxes, and minimal government intrusion. Both countries have prospered accordingly. Ireland today enjoys a per capita income about 20% higher than in Germany and France.

While America prospers and grows, Old Europe, as Donald Rumsfeld and others call it, is in an economic and demographic tailspin. It should surprise few that tensions exist between the Western powers. Many political and intellectual leaders in Europe continue to deride American style capitalism, calling it “right wing” and regressive. One wonders how deeply “Eurosclerosis” will become before voters clamor for serious reforms and abandon the politicos and ideological elitists who currently chain their prosperity and curtail their hope.

So the next time someone suggests higher taxes, more welfare, and more business regulations, tell them about what those have done to the European economy. The full article can be found here.

Quote Of The Day

“Things are a lot different now, so that’s why I can’t be more than tentatively in favor of this, but we already know that what we have been trying to do since the 1960s has not worked in the way that Lyndon Johnson said it would. It has been about as successful as the Vietnam war. I agree, as I said, that he is talking about things that really matter. I would not agree so readily agree that he is talking about inequality. This sounds to me like poverty, not inequality. I don’t care if more people can afford yachts today. Actually, if this is true, I’m glad. I went shopping yesterday and priced some designer tiles. I discovered that I could not afford them. But just walking around my middle class neighborhood, I see that many of my neighbors evidently can afford them. And I’m glad. Life in a wealthy society is a cornucopia of positive externalities. I realize that a lot of middle class people do not feel the way I do, but most middle class people who started out poor do feel as I do. You kinda have to be born privileged in order to resent those who were born more privileged. Or so I infer from my limited experience”. —David Schmidtz, Professor of Philosophy and Economics at the University of Arizon, over a discussion When Inequality Matters at Cato Unbound

President Bush Addresses NAACP Annual Convention

President Bush addressed the NAACP Annual Convention and these are some of the things he said:

I strongly believe that parental involvement is important for our school systems. (Applause.) And I believe — and I strongly believe a parent knows what’s best for his or her child. That’s what I believe. And therefore, when we find schools that are not teaching and will not change, our parents should have a different option. If you want quality education you’ve got to trust the parents.

You know, an amazing thing about our society today is wealthier white families have got the capacity to defeat mediocrity by moving. That is not the case for lower-income families. And so, therefore, I strongly believe in charter schools, and public school choice. I believe in opportunity scholarships to be able to enable parents to move their child out of a school that’s not teaching, for the benefit of the United States of America. (Applause.)

Applause indeed. An overall great speech. The full speech can be found here.

Quote Of The Day

“A star figure at the second annual Aspen Institute Ideas Festival – attended by several hundred, mainly liberal intellectual and financial glitterati – was Joel Klein, the former Clinton aide who is now chancellor of New York City public schools. Klein made a riveting case that teachers-union contracts are the main obstacle to improving urban education. “The contract protects the interests of adults at the expense of kids,” he told a rapt audience, describing how it bars pay differentials based on student performance and service in difficult schools; makes it impossible for principals to fire underperforming teachers; and allows teachers to choose their own professional development tracks, regardless of supply-and- demand needs, such as those for more math and science teachers”. —Morton Kondracke, executive editor of Roll Call, the newspaper of Capitol Hill.

Why Such An Increase In Immigration?

The Wall Street Journal has another econoblog debate and this time the topic is immigration.

Gordon Hanson, professor of economics at UCSD, answers why there has been such a drastic increase in Mexican immigration:

Mexican immigrants now account for about 5% of the U.S. labor force (and 35% of the immigrant labor force), up from less than 1% in 1970. What happened?

I would cite two events. Since 1982, Mexico has had several major economic contractions and has been unable to string together more than a few years of solid growth. As a result, per capita income in Mexico has steadily fallen relative to per capita income in the U.S. Why stay in Mexico when incomes are rising faster in the U.S.?

Compounding migration pressures has been the entry of Mexico’s baby boom into the labor force. While fertility rates in Mexico have dropped sharply in the last three decades (from five kids per woman in 1970 to three kids per woman in 2000), it wasn’t that long ago that the typical Mexican woman had nearly a half dozen children. Mexico’s high fertility years produced a demographic bulge, the members of which in the last 20 years have come of age and started to look for work. As luck would have it, Mexico’s baby boom entered the labor force during Mexico’s two decades of dismal economic performance and decidedly lackluster growth in labor demand. The result has been the surge in Mexican immigration that we have been witnessing.

The full debate can be found here.

Quote Of The Day

“What is the biggest benefit that the relatively poor have experienced over the past two centuries? It is surely the terrific reduction in the cost of food. Two centuries ago, food was the biggest part in a family’s budget. It was hard for a poor family to get enough to eat. If there was a shortage, there could be a famine, resulting in thousands of deaths. Even in the 1920s, people on average spent a third of their income on food. Now they spend only a tenth. Look at any chart of the price of the basic foodstuffs, such as wheat, barley and milk, and you will see almost continuous and deep falls. What has caused this massive benefit to the poor? A series of government regulations? A good-looking politician with an easy smile and a “vision”? No. Capitalism”. —James Bartholomew, writing in the Telegraph about the need to give “a revision course on why capitalism is a good thing”

Quote Of The Day

“A headline in the San Francisco Chronicle offered this prescription for California’s problems: “The Golden State needs big, bold ideas to solve the puzzle its future presents.” But big bold ideas have been behind many — if not most — of California’s problems, as well as disasters in countries around the world”. —Thomas Sowell, listing his random thoughts

Quote Of The Day

“But the good news is that these newcomers by and large aren’t listening to the left-wingers pushing identity politics. Mexican immigrants, like their European predecessors, are assimilating. Their children learn English and by the end of high school prefer it to their parents’ native tongue. They also marry people they meet here. Second-generation Latinos earn less than white Americans but more than blacks and 50% more than first-generation Latinos. According to Tamar Jacoby’s “Reinventing the Melting Pot,” the most common last names among new homeowners in California include Garcia, Lee, Martinez, Nguyen, Rodriguez and Wong”. —The Wall Street Journal editorial page explaining Why The Wall Street Journal favors open

Republicans Unveil $100 Million School Voucher Plan

CNN is reporting:

Republicans unveil $100 million school voucher plan

WASHINGTON (AP) –Congressional Republicans on Tuesday proposed a $100 million plan to let poor children leave struggling schools and attend private schools at public expense.

The voucher idea is one in a series of social conservative issues meant to energize the Republican base as midterm elections approach. In announcing their bills, House and Senate sponsors acknowledged that Congress likely won’t even vote on the legislation this year.

Still, the move signals a significant education fight to come. GOP lawmakers plan to try to work their voucher plan into the No Child Left Behind law when it is updated in 2007.

“Momentum is on our side,” said Representative Howard McKeon, R-California, the chairman of the House education committee.

The Bush administration requested the school-choice plan, but Tuesday’s media event caused some awkwardness for the Education Department. The agency just released a study that raises questions about whether private schools offer any advantage over public ones.

Under the new legislation, the vouchers would mainly go to students in poor schools that have failed to meet their progress goals for at least five straight years.

Parents could get $4,000 per year to put toward private-school tuition or a public school outside their local district. They could also seek up to $3,000 per year for extra tutoring.

Supporters say poor parents deserve choices, like rich families have. When schools don’t work, said Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, “parents must have other opportunities.”

During Bush’s presidency, Congress approved the first federal voucher program in the District of Columbia, and private-school aid for students displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

So far, Congress has refused to approve Bush’s national voucher proposals. The new one is the first to target money for kids in schools that have fallen short under federal law.

Critics dismissed it as a gimmick.

Voucher programs rob public-school students of scarce resources,” said Reg Weaver, president of the National Education Association, a teachers union. “No matter what politicians call them, vouchers threaten the basic right of every child to attend a quality public school.”

Meanwhile, Spellings faced questions about her department’s handling of a new study comparing students in public and private schools that had been quietly released on Friday.

The study found that, overall, private school students outperform public school children in reading and math. But public school students often did as well, if not better, when compared to private-school peers with similar backgrounds.

The study had many caveats and warned that its own comparisons had “modest utility.”

Spellings said she first learned about the study — one produced by the Education Department’s research arm — by reading about it in the newspaper. She said the agency must improve the way it releases such reports. But she rejected any suggestion that the department buried the study because it put public schools in a favorable light compared to private ones.(emphasis added)

This press release shows the fundamental difference between Republicans and Democrats on vouchers and one of the reasons why the two parties will never agree on the topic. Republicans, and voucher proponents in general, primarily defend the interests of the children stuck in these poor performing schools, Democrats and opponents of vouchers, on the other hand, primarily defend the interests of the failing schools over the interest of the children. The two sides are arguing from two fundamentally different view points. Personally, when push comes to shove, I choose the children.

Quote Of The Day

“By far the largest concern we hear on the right concerns culture, especially the worry that the current Hispanic influx is so large it can resist the American genius for assimilation. Hispanics now comprise nearly a third of the population in California and Texas, the country’s two biggest states, and cultural assimilation does matter. This is where the political left does the cause of immigration no good in pursuing a separatist agenda. When such groups as La Raza and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund push for multiculturalism, bilingual education, foreign language ballots, racial quotas and the like, they undermine support for immigration among even the most open-minded Americans. Most Americans don’t want to replicate the Bosnia model; nor are they pining for a U.S. version of the Quebec sovereignty movement. President Bush has been right to assert that immigrants must adopt U.S. norms, and we only wish more figures on the political left would say the same”. —The Wall Street Journal editorial page explaining Why The Wall Street Journal favors open immigration