The Positive Impact of Immigration

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Many people in the world are forced to make one of the hardest decisions in life – to leave their home country and start over somewhere else. This is known as migration, and it happens everywhere in the world. Some countries are more welcoming than others, but regardless of where they live, migrants have a positive impact on their host societies. They boost the economy and contribute to cultural diversity, despite the fact that their own economic and social progress is often slow.

In the United States, there are nearly 24 million immigrants. They are an important part of the population, contributing to society in many ways: as workers, business owners, and taxpayers. They also help raise national productivity and bolster the economy by adding value to goods and services. In addition, they are a significant source of talent in the labor force: over two-fifths of agricultural workers and one-fifth of those who work in computer and math sciences are immigrants. Moreover, they are particularly strong in sectors like health care and social assistance.

Yet some people have a negative view of immigration, believing that it has a negative effect on the economy and culture. They also believe that immigrants take jobs that Americans would otherwise do, and depress wages for low-skilled native-born laborers.

However, the vast majority of Americans and people around the world think that immigrants have a positive impact on their societies. This view is supported by research, including a new report in our April 2020 World Economic Outlook, which shows that on average, migrant-receiving economies experience faster growth and higher productivity than non-migrant-receiving ones. This is because migrants stimulate demand for goods and services, especially in high-income countries, where they can help offset slowing domestic demand.

While it is important to discuss the economic benefits and costs of immigration, a more holistic view of immigration is needed. People who migrate can improve their quality of life, whether it is by improving their income or by improving the well-being of their family members. For example, migrants who move to developed countries can see their happiness levels rise relative to the places they came from.

In our focus groups, many immigrant participants described the best thing that has come from moving to the United States as a better life for themselves and their families. They noted that they had left harsh economic and unsafe conditions in their home countries. They hoped to raise their standards of living and give their children opportunities that they might not have had in their home countries.