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Immigration and Public Investment

- May 5, 2013

Here in the United States, opponents of immigration reform frequently talk about the dangers of rewarding people who came without authorization or the prospect that immigrants might take jobs from native-born Americans. But there is another concern about immigration that they don’t typically raise, one that you are more likely to hear from the European left than the American right: that immigration undermines the social welfare state by making voters less supportive of public spending.

The logic behind this argument is simple. Writing in the Guardian, David Goodhart contends that “if newcomers do not make some effort to join in it is harder for existing citizens to see them as part of the ‘imagined community’. When that happens it weakens the bonds of solidarity and in the long run erodes the ‘emotional citizenship’ required to sustain welfare states.”

The striking thing about the United States, though, is that increasing ethnic and racial diversity hasn’t dampened our public investments.

That’s from my latest post over at Wonkblog, detailing what research on American cities can teach us about ethnic and racial diversity’s effects on public investments in roads, sanitation, and other services.  For more, head here.

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