Equality! Diversity! Pick one.

Den moderna vänterns viktigaste prioriteringar är att öka mångfalden genom invandring från tredje världen och att reducera inkomstojämlikheter. Väntern har dock svårt att medge att dessa mål är i fundamental konflikt. Invandring har varit en av de viktigaste drivkrafterna till ökat ojämlikhet i både Sverige och USA, framförallt genom att öka andel låginkosttagare.

Jag skriver om detta i American Enterprise Institutes tidskrift The American.

“A sizable part of the increase in inequality in the United States during the postwar era was caused by immigration, particularly low-skill immigration. Immigration is not a big factor in the increasing income share of top earners, but it is key to the increasing number of people at the bottom of the income distribution, as reflected in the poverty rate.

Diversity is sometimes summarized by an “ethno-linguistic fractionalization index,” which estimates the probability that two randomly chosen individuals belong to different ethnic groups. There is a fairly strong and statistically significant correlation between diversity and income inequality in US states. The correlation between the Gini coefficient of income inequality and the ethno-linguistic fractionalization index of states is around 0.51.

California makes for a good case-study of the long-term effects of immigration on inequality and poverty. In the 1960 census, California had the seventh-lowest poverty rate in the United States. Last year, the Los Angeles Times reported the results of a study by the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality: “The new analysis set California’s poverty rate at 22%, the highest in the nation.””

“Another common argument is based on how, in the 1860s, immigrants from Italy and Ireland assimilated despite grumbles by contemporary nativists. Historical determinism thus proves that immigration is always and everywhere successful. However, this time, the United States has not experienced the rapid economic integration of the 1800s. Hispanics’ income levels are not converging toward white income levels. The Census Bureau reports the average family income of Hispanic households compared to non-Hispanic white households from 1972: That year, Hispanic family incomes on average were 30 percent below those of non-Hispanic whites. Rather than converging, this gap has gradually grown. Today, Hispanic family incomes are on average 40 percent lower. Previous cohorts of immigrants slowly achieve upward mobility, but new and larger waves of poor arrivals have driven down averages, never giving Hispanics as a group a chance to catch up.

Lastly, there are the small number of progressives openly acknowledge the trade-off between immigration and equality.

Paul Krugman’s article is worth quoting from at length:

First, the net benefits to the U.S. economy from immigration, aside from the large gains to the immigrants themselves, are small. Realistic estimates suggest that immigration since 1980 has raised the total income of native-born Americans by no more than a fraction of 1 percent.

Second, while immigration may have raised overall income slightly, many of the worst-off native-born Americans are hurt by immigration — especially immigration from Mexico. Because Mexican immigrants have much less education than the average U.S. worker, they increase the supply of less-skilled labor, driving down the wages of the worst-paid Americans. The most authoritative recent study of this effect, by George Borjas and Lawrence Katz of Harvard, estimates that U.S. high school dropouts would earn as much as 8 percent more if it weren’t for Mexican immigration.

That’s why it’s intellectually dishonest to say, as President Bush does, that immigrants do ”jobs that Americans will not do.” The willingness of Americans to do a job depends on how much that job pays — and the reason some jobs pay too little to attract native-born Americans is competition from poorly paid immigrants.

Finally, modern America is a welfare state, even if our social safety net has more holes in it than it should — and low-skill immigrants threaten to unravel that safety net.

Basic decency requires that we provide immigrants, once they’re here, with essential health care, education for their children, and more. As the Swiss writer Max Frisch wrote about his own country’s experience with immigration, “We wanted a labor force, but human beings came.” Unfortunately, low-skill immigrants don’t pay enough taxes to cover the cost of the benefits they receive.

Krugman received a fair deal of criticism for pointing out that two of the main goals of the progressive movement are in direct and probably irreconcilable conflict.”

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