Politicians around the world tout immigration restrictions as a way to fight wage stagnation and boost the job prospects of low-paid or unemployed locals.
The Trump administration pushed the message aggressively, at one stage calling a proposal to halve migration numbers the RAISE Act (standing for Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy), saying it would raise workers’ wages and help struggling families enter the middle class.
Whether or not cutting low-skilled migration would lift working class wages remains a highly contentious question.
A myth that won’t die: stopping migration did not kickstart the economy
My research examines the question in a broader way. Its findings – looking back at an extraordinary time of change in US history, from the 1880s on – suggest that while restricting immigration might at first help low-income workers, over time it hurts those local workers. This is due to what I call