Following the division in the United States on how to address immigration concerns, one of the observations made is that the Congress has failed to pass any legislation aimed at reforming immigration laws. Several factors are behind this failure. One of them is the lack of empirical evidence to highlight the contributions made by immigrants to the economy. There are varying opinions on the contribution of immigrant population to the economy. Some people believe that this group lowers wages. As a result, the local economy is negatively affected. Others claim that the benefits of these individuals are limited to metropolitan economies.
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The issue of immigrants in the US is described as a complex demographic phenomenon. One of the main reasons behind the increase in population is the peak in the volume of immigrants moving across the border. Immigrants have also significantly contributed to cultural changes throughout the country. Different people have had different views concerning the issue of immigration. The reason is that the US Congress has not yet formulated legislations to deal with the issue. As such, it seems that the government has no policies to deal with the problem.
The country is divided on how to address immigration concerns with the Congress having failed to pass any legislation to reform these laws. Some are of the opinion that the immigrant population has positive results on the economy, while others oppose this view. The failure is attributed to the fact that little empirical data is available to support legislation. The paper will clarify the effects the immigrant population has on the median income of metropolitan areas in the US.
Research Question and Hypothesis
- Ho: The median income of households in metropolitans with large numbers of immigrants is high.
- Ha: Metropolitan areas with high concentration of immigrants have high poverty indexes than others.
To complete this project, the researcher used data from 2000 U.S. census. The data was used to highlight the link between the concentration of immigrants and median household income. The relationship between the 389 metropolitan areas in the US was reviewed. In addition, the number of Latino and Asian immigrants was reviewed independently. The aim was to highlight variations in the background of immigrants in the selected metropolitan economies.
The effect of the immigrant population on the economy of the US is not well known. Today, it is a matter of speculation among members of the American population who tend to use their own reasoning to interpret the effect of the increasing immigrant population. Some studies show that the immigrant population has positive effects on the median income and the economy as a whole of metropolitan in the US while others has painted a completely different picture.
For instance, the effect of the Latino immigrants on the economy of the country has been viewed from different perspectives. Some feel that the increasing number of Latinos will have adverse effects on the Black American population resulting from competition for similar employment opportunities. In this case, there are fears that further increase in their numbers will result in rising cases of unemployment (Borjas 1361). Subsequently, the supply for labor will be higher compared to its demand. As such, this will drive down the amount of wages paid to the Black population.
A number of studies have however been of the contrary opinion. They have shown that the Latino and Black American population complement each other. In the job market, the Latino population acts as a substitute to Black Americans. As such, cities found to have a declining Black population have been found to warmly welcome the influx of Latinos. In these localities, the existence of individuals of Latino background is of benefit to the economy.
To begin with, they provide labor in these metropolitan areas. As such, they play a vital role in infrastructural development. They also contribute to the tax base of these metropolitan areas (Bruch & Mare 689). In the process they generate income for these metropolitan areas which is later used to fund development. The Latino immigrant population has also provided also an important customer base for the locally produced goods and services. As such, they play a vital role in the growth of the local economy.
Some studies are of the view that an increase in the immigrant population will automatically translate to a rise in the demand for goods and services in the country. Consequently, there is an increase in the scale of production. For example, the increased population growth resulting from an influx in the number of immigrants has resulted in an increasing demand for housing. The situation has created a boom in the construction sector. The immigrants have also been seen to provide a cheap source of labor in such sectors (Ciccone & Peri 403). In the process, they are found to have positive effects on the economy.
Many studies have branded the US as a country of immigrants. Figures show that approximately 1.25 million immigrants enter the US annually (Gruelich, Quigley & Raphael 164). Their numbers account for 40 percent of the country’s population growth. They enter the country through legally and illegally means. Close to between 35-40 percent of the immigrant population is undocumented. Majority of these persons originate from Mexico and Central America.
Majority of these persons are often uneducated with some lacking basic communication skills in English, the national language in the US. The group of persons often tends to seek low income jobs as a result of their skill shortage. Majority of them have been seen to migrate into metropolitan areas to take advantage of the boom in the construction sector. Here, they involve themselves with casual jobs. Most of these jobs are poorly paying. As a result of their meager income, the median income of most of these metropolitan areas also tends to reduce significantly.
Besides this group, another quarter of the immigrant population in to the US is from the Asian countries. Majority of them originate from China and India. The group is composed of highly skilled individuals. They have excellent communication skills and have undergone formal training in a variety of professions. The groups of persons often come into the country in search of better employment opportunities (Ciccone & Peri 403).
They find practicing in the US to be lucrative than in their mother countries. The group of immigrants ends up finding well paying jobs in the US. Their careers are well paying. As a result, they play an important role in improving level of median income in metropolitan areas. However, there are concerns that the influx of Asian immigrants into the US will deny American citizens the opportunity to access well paying jobs, especially in the information technology sector.
It is clear that immigrants have varying effects on the economy and the median income of metropolitan areas in the US. In fact, it is just a matter of how one prefers to look at the situation (Tracy 189). It is evident that to some extent the immigrant population can depress the economy of the USA while in other instances is seen to promote it. A number of issues determine the impacts of immigrants on the economy and on median income. Such factors include the number of persons entering the country, their skills, as well as whether or not they are documented.
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Data and Methods
The study used a number of sources to collect data. The major source of quantitative data was the 2000 United States Census. The research was conducted across 366 metropolitan areas in the US. Data collected was accurate since it was obtained following a national census. As such, it provided the researcher with population counts as opposed to estimates. The results of the survey were presented in a tabulated manner to ensure ease in interpretation.
Columns were included to come up with more comprehensive results concerning the American population. Key aspects that were assessed in the research included level of education, place of birth, income, poverty, race, means of transport, nationality, line of work, as well as place of residence. The survey only used the census data from households living in the metropolitan areas. Persons involved in the survey were asked over 50 questions. Data was obtained from the US government census and used tables B15003, B05002, B19013, B17001, B03002, B08134, B05006, C24050, B05002, B23025, and DEC_10_SF1_P2.
To test the hypothesis of the immigration population and their effect on the median income of metropolitan areas in the country, the researcher created one variable to measure the proportions of persons living below the poverty index. To determine their percentage, the number of persons living below the poverty index was divided by the total population of the metropolitan areas. The second variable is one of the most important elements.
It involved the determination of the median income for households living in the metropolitan areas. It is, however, important to note that the variable does not portray the current state of affairs. Instead, it shows the situation that existed in metropolitan areas in America in 2000 when the census was conducted. As already indicated, a number of hypotheses were made in this research. One of them is the fact that an increase in the population of immigrants leads to a decrease in median income.
A total of 366 metropolitan areas were used for the study. They are represented in the horizontal axis. It is evident that majority of the people living in metropolitan areas are yet to attain a college degree. In many areas, those who have attained a college degree only account for about 35 percent of the population. Only four areas record that over 50 percent of their population has attained the education level. Its however important to note that the lowest proportion of people with college degree is at 10 percent and the highest is at 70 percent.
In all the metropolitan areas used for the study, the proportion of foreign born individuals did not exceed 40 percent. The largest portion of non-natives is at 37 percent. The lowest level fell below the 5 percent point. Most metropolitan areas in the US have a large proportion of foreign born individuals living below the 10 percent mark. Only four regions report figures above the 30 percent mark.
In all the metropolitan areas used for the study, the median income is above the 30,000 mark. However, only few metropolitan areas go beyond the 80,000 mark. In fact, those with their median income above 80,000 are only three. The highest point of median income stands at 90,000. The median incomes of most metropolitan areas however fall between 40,000 and 60,000.
In all the metropolitan areas, poverty level does not go beyond the 35 percent mark. In most regions, the proportion of those living below the poverty level is below the 25 percent mark. In fact, only five areas have level of poverty beyond 25 percent. In majority of the areas, the figure ranges between 10 and 20 percent. However, there is no area with level of poverty that is below the 5 percent mark.
The vertical axis represents the proportion of people that fall under each racial group per metropolitan area. To obtain the percentage, the value on the axis is to be multiplied by a factor of 100. Metropolitan areas in the US have the aspect of racial diversity. Whites are the dominant race across all areas. Blacks are the second most dominant race. They are followed closely by Latinos. Asians are the least represented race in the metropolitan areas.
The vertical axis represents the percentage of people using the different transportation modes in the metropolitan areas. Majority of people drive alone. 50 percent and 70 percent of the population in metropolitan areas travel between to 30 minutes. The group is followed closely behind by those who travel for a duration ranging between 30 and 60 minutes. Fewer people drive for more than 60 minutes or less than 10 minutes. The smallest proportion of people living in metropolitan areas uses public transport.
The vertical axis shows the proportion of the foreign born immigrants into the metropolitan areas. Latinos make up the highest number of non-native immigrants in US metropolises. In some areas, their proportions are as high as above the 95 percent mark. However, in some regions, their proportion is below the 5 percent mark. Areas recording the highest number of foreign born Asian immigrants have unique traits. For example, the level is just above the 80 percent mark. However, in some areas, the figure falls below the 5 percent mark.
It is evident the metropolitan population in the USA engages in diverse economic activities. Most of them are involved in the service and sales sectors. The group is followed closely by those in the management sector. Natural resources, production, and agricultural sectors have the least number of persons in metropolitan areas. It is however evident that the number of persons in a particular sector varies between the metropolitan areas.
The population of metropolitan areas in the USA is not static. On the contrary, it is constantly changing. Most metropolitan areas experienced changes ranging between 0 and 50 percent. Other areas have however experienced vast changes hitting above the 200 percent mark. Others have negative values of up to -50 percent. No metropolitan area goes below this mark.
Majority of people in all the metropolitans are employed. They are involved in the civil sector. The highest level of involvement in the job market is slightly above the 75 percent mark. In many areas, unemployment rates do not exceed 10 percent. Those areas that go beyond this point do not exceed the 15 percent mark.
Most of the people in metropolitan areas in the US reside in urban centers. In fact, in some localities, they consist more than 95 percent of the metropolitan areas’ total population. The greatest number of metropolitans has between 70 and 85 percent of their population residing in urban settings. No metropolitan area has their urban population below the 40 percent mark.
Discussion and Conclusion
Over the years, the United States Congress has failed to come up with legislations that are aimed at dealing with the issue of immigrants. The reason behind this is that they lack empirical data that shows the effect the immigrant have on the country’s economy. As such, the population is divided on just how much the influx of the immigrant population in their country affects the level of median income recorded for households living in metropolitan areas. Some feel that the immigrant population boosts their economy, while others feel that it may have detrimental effects on the country. Using findings made in the study, the researcher was able to shed more light on some of these issues.
In most metropolitan areas, majority of the people have been found not to have attained a college degree. We can attribute this to the high number of immigrants especially from Mexico and other countries in Central America. Majority of these people have not attained a college degree with only few having undergone formal training (Ciccone & Peri 403). They end up in the country’s informal sectors with most of them serving as casual laborers.
In most metropolitan areas today, a large number of the immigrants are born in the US. They are parented by people who moved into the US from other countries mainly in search of employment. Since majority of the immigrants rarely undergo formal training. As such, their income is often low. With their influx in the country, there has been a decline in the median income. A considerably big proportion of this population also lives below the poverty level as a result of their low income (Borjas 1361). Even despite the influx of immigrants into the US, Whites still remain to be the dominant rate. The reason behind this is that Whites are considered to be the original inhabitants. As such, their population has remained to be high over the years despite the problem of immigrants.
In metropolitan areas in the US, a considerably large number of people drive alone. Few use public means of transport. We can attribute this to the fact that the US is a developed nation with the population’s median income being higher compared to that of most countries across the world. The number of foreign born Latinos exceeds that of Asians. We can attribute this to the fact that Latin American countries are close to the US compared to Asia.
As such, it is easier for foreign born Latinos to find their way into the US. The population is also constantly changing. Most blame this on the lack of elaborate legislations to control the entry of immigrants. In almost all metropolitan areas, most people prefer living in urban areas (Bruch & Mare 689). The reason is that urban settings are associated with easier access to employment opportunities.
Borjas, Grogger. “The Labor Demand Curve is Downward Sloping: Re-examining the Impact of Immigration on the Labor Market.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 118.3 (2003): 1335- 1374. Print.
Bruch, Elizabeth, and Robert Mare. “Neighborhood Choice and Neighborhood Change.” American Journal of Sociology 112.1 (2006): 667-709. Print.
Ciccone, Antonio, and Giovanni Peri. “Identifying Human-Capital Externalities: Theory with Applications.” Review of Economic Studies 73.3 (2006): 381-412. Print.
Gruelich, Erica, John Quigley, and Steven Raphael. “The Anatomy of Rent Burdens: Immigration, Growth, and Rental Housing.” Brookings Papers on Urban Affairs 2004.1 (2004): 149-187. Print.
Tracy, Joseph. “Comment on the Anatomy of Rent Burdens: Immigration, Growth, and Rental Housing.” Brookings Papers on Urban Affairs 2004.1 (2004): 188-192. Print.