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2010 June 11 Friday
California Skills Decay Due To Immigration

A new report from the Center for Immigration Studies finds that California has slid to the bottom of the national work skills heap due to immigration.

Between 1970 and 2008 the share of California’s population comprised of immigrants (legal and illegal) tripled, growing from 9 percent to 27 percent.1 This Memorandum examines some of the ways California has changed over the last four decades. Historically, California has not been a state with a disproportionately large unskilled population, like Appalachia or parts of the South. As a result of immigration, however, by 2008 California had the least-educated labor force in the nation in terms of the share its workers without a high school education. This change has important implications for the state.

For this and other reasons I am very bearish on California government debt. Add on top the power of the government worker unions, a leftward shift in the state's politics driven both by immigration into the state and more conservative white-flight out of the state, and the approach of Peak Oil, and I expect the state will experience many municipal bankruptcies.

It is a tragic waste that this sort of deterioration has to be visited upon a state which has such great climate in its coastal regions. It is hard to move somewhere else with comparable mild climate. One pretty much has to leave the United States to find comparable climate.

Oh how the mighty fall.

  • In 1970, California had the 7th most educated work force of the 50 states in terms of the share of its workers who had completed high school. By 2008 it ranked 50th, making it the least educated state. (Table 1a)

  • Education in California has declined relative to other states. The percentage of Californians who have completed high school has increased since 1970; however, all other states made much more progress in improving their education levels; as a result, California has fallen behind the rest of the country. (Table 1b)

  • The large relative decline in education in California is a direct result of immigration. Without immigrants, the share of California’s labor force that has completed high school would be above the national average.

  • There is no indication that California will soon close the educational gap. California ranks 35th in terms of the share of its 19-year-olds who have completed high school. Moreover, one-third (91,000) of the adult immigrants who arrived in the state in 2007 and 2008 had not completed high school.2

  • In 1970 California was right at the national average in terms of income inequality, ranking 25th in the nation. By 2008, it was the 6th most unequal state in the country based on the commonly used Gini coefficient, which measures how evenly income is distributed. (Tables 2a and 2b)

  • California’s income distribution in 2008 was more unequal than was Mississippi’s in 1970. (Tables 2a and 2b)

  • While historical data are not available, we can say that in 2008 California ranked 11th highest in terms of the share of its households accessing at least one major welfare program and 8th highest in terms of the share of the state’s population without health insurance. (Tables 3 and 4)

  • The large share of California adults who have very little education is likely to strain social services and make it challenging for the state to generate sufficient tax revenue to cover the demands for services made by its large unskilled population.

California Dreaming is pretty much about the past at this point.

California public school teachers are the best paid in the United States. So the idea that California schools are so pathetic due to poor teacher pay is bogus.

What most amazes me about this huge decline: It brings us no closer to a realistic elite public acknowledgment of innate limits of ability. Rather, the official fantasy gets maintained in the face of copious evidence against the secular religious faith in equality of ability. As John Derbyshire points out, in elite circles public protestations of faith in education to raise up poor performers continues unabated. It is remarkable that during the Middle Ages the Catholic Church abandoned its faith that the Earth was the center of the universe under the weight of far less evidence than the amount of evidence that exists today for the view that group differences in student performance are due to group differences in average ability. Our secular left-liberal defenders of their faith demonstrate far stronger public attachment to irrational beliefs than the Catholic Church did in a supposedly far less rational era of faith in the supernatural.

Update: Where will this decay lead? Eventually some intellectual will propose charter cities for California. They'll have interesting rationalizations for why this concept will work.

Update II: Why is all this happening? Read about the Voldemort View: the View That Must Not Be Named.

By Randall Parker    2010 June 11 10:19 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (30)
2007 August 19 Sunday
Smarter States More Livable Places

Audacious Epigone finds that IQ offers a very strong correlation with livability of a state.

A state's live-in desirability, as defined by CQ Press in the form of a livability index that considers 44 social, cultural, and economic factors, rigorously correlates with that state's estimated average IQ. The correlation using my numbers is .78, while using VCU Professor McDaniel's subsequent better numbers yields an r-value of .80. In both cases, the p-value is effectively zero.

That .80 constitutes a stronger relationship with livability than with any other variable considered. Keep in mind, the importance of IQ underestimated by this method, as many of those variables are part of the 44 used to gauge livability--in this sense, they have a built in statistical advantage that the IQ estimates do not have. Other correlations with livability include:

Illegitimacy rate (-.68)
Average life expectancy (.62)
Racial composition of the population (.62)
% of the population with a bachelor's degree or greater (.56)
Violent crime rate (-.54)
Unemployment rate (.50)
Per-student educational expenditures (.45)
Gun ownership rate (-.44)
Median age (.20)

Being surrounded by dummies lowers one's quality of life. The more dummies that have dumb babies the poorer your quality of life will become. Not a pretty thing to say. But the truth can be ugly. Audacious says raising IQ should become a primary policy goal. I agree.

An incredible amount of time and effort is spent arguing between competing policy prescriptions which either have little to offer toward improving quality of life or which have a net effect of lowering quality of life. I tire of hearing liberals and pseudo-conservatives posing as morally superior or more realistic than each other while both groups ignore empirical reality.

The correlation of IQ and per capita GDP is so strong that it is exponential. This strongly suggests that lower IQ immigrants lower the productivity of higher IQ workers. Some libertarian economists want us to believe that immigrants of lesser intellectual ability free up smarter people for smarter work and enable greater specialization of labor. But the results reported in Lynn and Vanhanen's IQ and the Wealth Of Nations show this is not the case. Dummies create too many external costs for smarties that they more than cancel out any benefits that come from the theoretical potential of greater specialization of labor. There appears to be a threshold IQ below which people can contribute very little to raising per capita GDP.

If realistic discussion of IQ research was not treated by the Left as a violation of a taboo we could start building a consensus on how to raise IQ. Would nutritional improvements, drugs, genetic engineering, or eugenic breeding practices work best for boosting IQ? The answer depends on when and where you ask that question. In Africa better nutrition and better disease control would both boost IQ. In Western economies my guess is that our best bet for boosting IQ is to encourage more eugenic breeding practices.

Advances in genetic testing technologies will bring the costs of genetic testing down so far that the genetic variants that contribute to determining IQ will be discovered over the next 10 years or so. Then the taboo against IQ discussions will break down as the scientific evidence makes the existing taboo impossible to defend. When that new era arrives methods to boost IQ will finally get the attention they deserve.

On a related note see my previous post Benthamite Libertarian Collectivists Wrong On Open Borders.

By Randall Parker    2007 August 19 02:46 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (8)
2007 February 06 Tuesday
Perfect Storm In Demographics To Shrink American Middle Class

Demographic trends driven by immigration will make the US workforce less literate in the year 2030.

US workers may be significantly less literate in 2030 than they are today.

The reason: Most baby boomers will be retiring and a large wave of less-educated immigrants will be moving into the workforce. This downward shift in reading and math skills suggests a huge challenge for educators and policymakers in the future, according to a new report from the Educational Testing Service (ETS).

If the trend continues it will shrink the middle class.

The decline in literacy is one of the more startling projections in a report that examines what it calls a "perfect storm" of converging factors and how those trends are likely to play out if left unchecked.

The three factors identified are: a shifting labor market increasingly rewarding education and skills, a changing demographic that include a rapid-growing Hispanic population, and a yawning achievement gap, particularly along racial and socioeconomic lines, when it comes to reading and math.

Genetic engineering could reverse the trend. A high IQ threshold on immigrants could slow the trend.

The report is available online. From the executive summary, the US workforce is going to become less skilled. (PDF format). To my knowledge that has never happened before in the US.

Employing demographic projections combined with current skill distributions, we estimate that by 2030 the average levels of literacy and numeracy in the working-age population will have decreased by about 5 percent while inequality will have increased by about 7 percent. Put crudely, over the next 25 years or so, as better-educated individuals leave the workforce they will be replaced by those who, on average, have lower levels of education and skill. Over this same period, nearly half of the projected job growth will be concentrated in occupations associated with higher education and skill levels. This means that tens of millions more of our students and adults will be less able to qualify for higher-paying jobs. Instead, they will be competing not only with each other and millions of newly arrived immigrants but also with equally (or better) skilled workers in lower-wage economies around the world.

The change in the number of years of education understates the change in skills and intellectual abilities. On average Hispanics in 12th grade know about as much as whites in 8th grade.

The dual weights of a huge retired elderly group and a growing less educated and less intellectually able segment of the working age will weigh heavily on the US economy in coming decades.

By Randall Parker    2007 February 06 11:41 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (3)
2007 January 30 Tuesday
Grim Demographics Of Texas And California

The demographic trends in California and Texas are bad. The demographics of Texas are going Third World.

If current trends continue, Texas' work force will be less educated and less skilled. State services, already burdened, may be strained to a point never experienced before. The numbers provided by Murdock support the dire warnings:

Hispanics may represent 53 percent of the population by 2030, compared to 30.3 percent for Anglos and 9.2 percent for blacks.

More than half of Hispanics 25 and older had failed to finish high school in 2000; fewer than 20 percent had completed some college, and only about 10 percent had a college degree.

Hispanics could occupy 38 percent to 52 percent of the Texas work force by 2030.

By 2030, 16 percent to 20 percent of the population will be 65 or older, an increase of about 10 percent over 2000. Most will be Anglos. Of Texans older than 65 in 2000, 72.6 percent were Anglo, 16.7 percent Hispanic.

How will the high skilled, high productivity, wealth generating jobs get done? Answer: Fewer such jobs will get done. It is as simple as that.

Should we face reality and admit that racial differences in intelligence make the long running differences in school performance fated to continue? Texas State Senator Peter Gallego embraces the incredibly foolish liberal myth that education can make dumb people smart.

Sen. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, said education is perhaps the most important issue facing the state.

"This is really a wake-up call," he said. "The conclusion is that by the year 2025, if we keep doing what we're doing now, Texas will have the economy of a Third Word country. I have a son who will be 21 in 2025, and that's just not the kind of Texas I want to turn over to him."

Gallego gets it half right. Yes, the Third World is coming to the First World. But education is an incredibly ineffectual way to deal with the demographic change that Texas is getting hit by. Texas is headed downward. Halting the current wave of low IQ immigrants would reduce the rate of descent. Anything short of that is just another demonstration of the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of our elites.

Also see my posts Texas Has Lowest High School Graduation Rates and Texas Standard School Test Results Are Warning On Immigration.

Steve Sailer takes a look at the teenage students and drop-outs of the 10 million population heavily Hispanic Los Angeles County and sees a grim future: What LA Schools Portend: A New, Unequal, People

If we assume that few of the dropouts would have broken 1000, then, as a rule of thumb, we can divide by two. Thus, only about seven or eight percent of the students who start 9th grade in the LAUSD will break 1000.

For all Los Angeles County public high school freshmen, only about ten percent will exceed 1000 by the time they leave high school.

Keep in mind that the SAT has been recentered and students who would have scored 890 before 1995 would score 1000 today. Also, 1000 is the 46th percentile and the mean among test takers is 1021. So when Steve says that only 10% of all LA County 18 year olds would score 1000 or higher if they took the SAT then he's not setting a high bar - at least not a high bar if we are looking at students as prospective workers in high tech industries which require high levels of skill and intellectual ability.

It's time for our elites to face up to the fact: millions of young people just aren't all that bright by the standards of the upper middle class. Passing laws based on the assumption that we live in Lake Wobegon where all the children are above average just makes life worse for kids on the left half of the bell curve.

The most important point to grasp in all this is that we can't take the success of Western societies for granted. Yes, we really can ruin them. Yes, our elites are terribly bad for the lies they tell and the damage they do with the policies they maintain for immigration and domestic social policy. America is dumbing down. So are some other Western nations.

Don't like who the American people chose for President? They'll make even worse choices in the future. Don't like the scores of students in your local school? More likely than not average scores in future students at those schools will decline. Don't like the simple-minded talk shows on TV or the radio? They'll become even simpler in the future. Don't like inefficient government workers or bank clerks or store clerks? They'll get dumber in the coming years. America will come to resemble more closely most of the rest of the world.

We are getting very close to DNA testing methods so cheap lots of genetic variations for intelligence will be found.

Also see Hispanic And Black High School Graduation Rates Very Low and America Becoming Dumb And Dumber.

By Randall Parker    2007 January 30 10:12 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (9)
2004 January 05 Monday
Peter Drucker On Low Skilled Immigration

Now an astounding 94 years old and still as lucid as ever, in a wide-ranging interview with Fortune magazine management guru Peter Drucker says our current blend of immigrants are only qualified for the jobs of yesterday's economy.

What do you make of the recent so-called recession?

What we have been going through these past three years is most definitely not a recession. It's a transition a transition with a lot of incongruities. Let me tell you a simple incongruity. We are going to have both fewer young people because of our own birth rate, and yet more young people because of immigration. For educated American young people there is no recession. But the immigrants have a mismatch of skills: They are qualified for yesterday's jobs, which are the kinds of jobs that are going away.

This also is especially hard on uneducated urban American blacks. Their great ladder of opportunity since World War II is going away.

Bringing in a lower class to compete with our existing lower class is a bad idea. It drives down the wages of our least skilled citizens and makes their lives much harder. It puts burdens on taxpayers to pay for services for the immigants. Mexican immigrants on average have an 8th grade education. Low skill jobs are being sent abroad or automated out of existence. The wages of lower education people have been declining for decades. That's the market's way of saying that demand for low skilled workers is declining. Low skilled immigration generates more costs than benefits. It should be brought to an end.

By Randall Parker    2004 January 05 11:22 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2003 December 17 Wednesday
Mexican, Central American Immigrants Less Skilled

The Public Policy Institute of California has released a report on types of immigrants that come to California.

SAN FRANCISCO, California, November 20, 2003 — Nearly half of the immigrants who arrived in California during the 1990s were born in Mexico, a substantial increase from the previous decade, according to a study released today by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC). Among the 2.8 million new immigrants who arrived in California within the past 10 years, Mexicans and Central Americans also have some of the poorest outcomes, with a greater percentage living in poverty and crowded housing conditions.

Using data from the 2000 Census, the study finds that 46.2 percent of all new immigrants in California were born in Mexico — more than six times the number of new immigrants from any other country and far higher than the number reported in the 1990 Census (38.2%). “This change highlights important policy challenges at both a state and national level, from language issues in California schools to negotiations with Mexico about a new guest worker program,” says PPIC research fellow Laura Hill, who coauthored the report with research associate Joseph Hayes.

Overall, recent immigrants from Mexico and Central America face greater socioeconomic challenges than their counterparts from other major sending regions, such as Southeast and East Asia. Nearly one-third live below the poverty line, compared to only 16 percent of Southeast Asians and 21 percent of East Asians. More than 70 percent have less than a high school diploma (Southeast Asians: 26%, East Asians: 14%). And nearly 80 percent live in crowded housing conditions (Southeast Asians: 57%, East Asians: 36%). However, there is reason for optimism:

A large influx of unskilled immigrants does not solve any major problems for American citizens. It actually creates many problems and costs us all in money, crowding, pollution, and in other ways with little compensatory benefit. The immigration policy of the United States government is harmful to the interests of the vast majority of American citizens. Yet our elites resist any and all attempts to scale back the influx of unskilled immigrants.

The full text of the report California's Newest Immigrants is available as a PDF download.

By Randall Parker    2003 December 17 11:37 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (5)
2003 November 09 Sunday
Mexican Immigrants To US Have 8th Grade Educations

The PBS Think Tank show hosted by Ben Wattenberg recently had Harvard labor economist George Borjas and libertarian Daniel Griswold as guests to discuss immigration policy.

George Borjas, Professor of Economics and Social Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University and author of Heaven's Door: Immigration Policy and the American Economy.


Dan Griswold, associate director of the Cato Institute's Center for Trade Policy Studies and author of the study Willing Workers: Fixing the Problem of Illegal Mexican Migration to the United States.

The Mexicans who are still in Mexico are even less educated than the ones who immigrate to the United States!

GRISWOLD: You know, I just - first on Mexico just to clear something up. It's not like we're getting the - the dredges of Mexicans...the average Mexican who comes here is better educated than the Mexicans who stay home. The average Mexican has about five years of education. The average Mexican immigrant - legal and illegal - has about eight. So we are getting the betted educated Mexicans.

Griswold sees all the money that Mexicans send home to Mexico in a positive light.

But you're right, the remittances. Mexico remittances are now their number three foreign exchange earner behind oil and tourism. And it's the best kinda foreign aid. It goes directly to families and to community projects. This is something - a very important component of immigration that we shouldn't overlook.

But money sent to Mexico is money not spent here on goods and services that give Americans jobs. If you are libertarian with little nationalistic loyalties this may not matter. But if you care more about your own fellow citizens and place a much higher value on the health of your own economy then it should matter and it should matter a great deal.

George Borjas explodes the myth that immigrants to jobs that Americans do not want to do.

BORJAS: This is an argument that you often hear, especially that economists make about how these people don't wanna take these kinds of jobs. The way it usually takes place is the following. Immigrants do jobs natives don't wanna do. I think the correct statement is immigrants do jobs natives don't wanna at the going wage. Let me give you a little anecdote. I used to live in California. Every person mows lawns in Southern California's Mexican. Totally legal. Low skill and clearly leads to a lot of cheap labor for people who wanna hire, you know, people who - who - who mow lawns. And the lawns are very nice in southern California. I moved to Boston. Very few Mexicans in Boston. Nevertheless the lawns are still green. If people want - if people want those kinds of services they will pay for it. So it's true. It is certainly true that immigrants do particular kinds of jobs but is at the expense of somebody else in some sense. Somebody's paying for the fact that we now have an increased supply of low-wage labor and it happens to be low-wage workers.

In the face of widespread denial by immigration advocates that immigration exacts any costs in the job market from native Americans Borjas has published economic research papers showing that increased supply really does lower prices in the labor market. It demonstrates the extent of the ideological nature of the arguments for mass low skilled immigration that Borjas even has to take the trouble to demonstrate the obvious. Labor markets are not immune to the law of supply and demand. Increase supply and prices will drop while the quantity used will increase. But the value created by each individual unit of used labor will decline - especially for the least skilled labor.

There's another factor here that Borjas doesn't bring up: Necessity is the mother of invention. Stop letting in large amounts of unskilled workers from Latin America and employers will react to the rising wages for less skilled work by purchasing capital equipment, developing processes, and developing technologies that reduce the need for labor. Cheap labor makes business managers lazier and less innovative. They spend more time managing workers and less time improving how they do things. Libertarians who are advocates of innovation and technological advance ought to take note that by favoring large scale low skilled immigration they are supporting policies that provide disincentives for industrial advance.

Griswold goes on to argue that the number of low skilled jobs is going to grow by millions in the coming decade and he sees immigration as necessary to fill those jobs. But those jobs do not have to be created and those jobs will pay low wages if they are created. Why would we import millions of people to do these low wages who will use more in social services, medical care, crime (and crime has victims who suffer in ways that don't show up in economic models), police, courts, prisons, pollution, and other costs than they pay in taxes? Also, since when did big "L" Libertarians come to see an economy with huge numbers of low-skilled and low wage jobs as a good thing? There was a time when Americans were very proud of the high wages of their lower skilled factory workers and other manual laborers. Now big "L" Libertarians have become enthusiastic cheerleaders for an ever growing lower class.

Griswold defends amnesty combined with a worker permit system.

GRISWOLD: Yes. I think the alternative's unacceptable. Are we gonna round up eight million people and deport them at tremendous human cost, tremendous economic cost, large sectors of the - important sectors of the U.S. economy would be devastated if we did this. Are we gonna continue to limp along with the status quo of eight million people living in a legal twilight zone? No, we have to come up with some mechanism to recognize reality, give these people documents. I don't believe in giving them green-cards, but give them some kind of legal paper. The mistake we made in the '80s was well, we granted this amnesty we didn't create any legal channel for people to come here illegally and the bathtub just started filling up again with the illegals. I'm for creating that legal channel.

Griswold is greatly exaggerating the costs of putting an end to the presence of millions of illegal aliens. First of all, the deportation of illegals could be done gradually in order to minimize the impact on the economy. Second, one way to reduce the number of illegals would be to make it harder to enter the country illegally. Given what illegals cost us the cost of a barrier on the border with Mexico would be more than offset by the reduction in costs to government for services.

A fact that deserves to be more widely known is that the pro-immigration lobby and pro-immigration politicans have effectively sabotaged all low cost effective means of cutting down on the number of illegal immigrants and immigration law violations. Any policy innovation that turns out to work well gets undermined. This has happened repeatedly. Cheap ways to cut back on illegal immigration are available and more could be developed - but only if the political elites want this to happen.

Griswold argues repeatedly that there are jobs that Americans won't do and that therefore low skilled immigrants are needed to do them.

GRISWOLD: I would bring our immigration law more into conformity with the realities of American life. Uh, yes I would open up some more opportunities for high-skilled workers to come in in the technology sector and elsewhere but I would create a legal channel for low- skilled workers to come into this country...most of them want to come in temporarily, but that's why we have this illegal immigration problem. There's a fundamental mismatch between our - our immigration laws are colliding with reality and reality is winning and I would make the immigration laws more reflect reality that there's a continuing demand for low-skilled workers. The pool of Americans happy with taking those jobs continues to shrink immeasurably.

Mr. Griswold, I have a question for you: in the parts of the country where there are still few illegal immigrants how does the trash get collected or how do restaurants find people to work as dishwashers? The answer is simple: the jobs pay more. The jobs do not pay so much more that the trash goes uncollected and the roads and houses do not fall into disrepair. Businesses get cleaned. Cars are repaired. The market adjusts. Also, in many of those parts of the country the natives are not fleeing the way they are fleeing California by the millions.

When it comes to arguing with libertarians about immigration one has to continually state that the labor markets really are markets. There is no absolute need for labor. There are supply curves and demand curves and prices at which the market matches up supply and demand. Also, market prices do not embody all costs. This is demonstrated most visibly with pollution. If an industry business pollutes and does not pay for the costs caused by its pollution then the supply curve of that industry does not accurately represent the real costs of providing the goods it produces. Such is the case with immigration. There are costs that do not show up in the price of labor. We are paying those costs when we pay taxes or deal with the consequences of crime comitted against us or against people we care about or when we fear to go some place that previously was considered safe. The native Californians who move out of state (and there are now more US citizens leaving Californian than entering it) because of the housing price pressures and taxes caused by immigration are paying a cost that does not show up in the market price for labor.

Update: The economic strategy of the US ought to be to make its entire economy an high value added operation with the amount of value added by all categories of workers rising continuously. Jobs that are worth only $6 or $7 per hour are not creating a lot of added value. We should not feed the economy with large numbers of low skilled immigrants because we shouldn't be trying to encourage the growth of low valued added industries. Our immigration policy should be oriented toward making the United States the leader in as many high value added industries as possible.

By Randall Parker    2003 November 09 11:33 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (81)
2003 September 22 Monday
Increasing Portion Of Potential US Citizens Less Educated

The Urban Institute has released a new study on immigrants to the United States who are becoming eligible to apply for US citizenship entitled The Changing Face of Naturalization.

Compared to recently naturalized citizens, the eligible population has more limited English skills, less education, and lower incomes:

- Sixty percent of the eligible group and 67 percent of those approaching eligibility are limited English proficient, versus 52 percent of the recently naturalized.

- Twenty-five percent of eligible adults have less than a ninth-grade education, compared with only 9 percent of the recently naturalized population.

- Forty-one percent of those eligible to naturalize have incomes under 200 percent of the federal poverty level ($36,200 for a family of 4 in 2002), compared with 28 percent of the recently naturalized.

The more educated and the Asians are more likely to naturalize than the less educated and the Mexicans.

National Origins. The national origins of the currently eligible pool differ from those of the recently naturalized. Mexico is perhaps the most striking case. There were 2.3 million Mexicans eligible to naturalize as of 2001—10 times the number from any other sending country.9 While Mexicans are 28 percent of all currently eligible immigrants, they represent only 9 percent of recently naturalized citizens. In a sharp contrast, Asians represent 27 percent of the eligible pool but 43 percent of recently naturalized citizens. Expressed differently, only 21 percent of eligible Mexicans entering in the past 20 years have naturalized while 57 percent of Asians have done so.

You can read the full report as a PDF file.

By Randall Parker    2003 September 22 12:34 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
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