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Why Immigrants Are America’s Superpower

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Why Immigrants Are America’s Superpower

Brookings Institution,

5 min read
3 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Immigration has a net positive effect on America’s economy.

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Immigrants give the US economy its vitality, according to economists Wendy Edelberg and David Dollar in this informative episode of the podcast Dollar & Sense. They show that immigrants are the main contributors to population growth and increased labor force participation in the United States, but it’s clear that some state and local communities disproportionately bear the costs of supporting some migrant groups. Edelberg and Dollar offer simple solutions to ease these local governments’ burdens.


The economic dynamics of immigration in the United States are complex.

Immigrants have historically made up about 15% of America’s population.COVID-19 affected the numbers meaningfully, causing visa issuance to plummet significantly between 2019 and 2020. The lag in reporting immigration statistics and census-driven population revisions muddy meaningful comparisons between pre- and post-pandemic immigrant numbers.

Immigrants’ education levels prove an important determinant of their standing in the US labor market. They are disproportionately represented in the cohorts educated at levels both greater and less than the average US citizen, with few falling into a middle ground. In a perfect world, the skill sets of the immigrant population would complement rather than substitute for those of native...

About the Podcast

Director of the Hamilton Project Wendy Edelberg is a senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution, where David Dollar hosts the podcast Dollar & Sense.

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