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IMMIGRATION AND DEMOGRAPHICS: CAN HIGH IMMIGRANT FERTILITY EXPLAIN VOTER SUPPORT FOR IMMIGRATION?

  • Author(s): Bohn, Henning
  • Lopez-Velasco, Armando R
  • et al.
Abstract

First generation immigrants to the United States have higher fertility rates than natives. This paper analyzes to what extent this factor provides political support for immigration, using an overlapping generation model with production and capital accumulation. In this setting, immigration represents a dynamic trade-off for native workers as more immigrants decrease current wages but increase the future return on their savings. We find that immigrant fertility has surprisingly strong effects on voter incentives, especially when there is persistence in the political process. If fertility rates are sufficiently high, native workers support immigration. Persistence, either due to inertia induced by frictions in the legal system or through expectational linkages, significantly magnifies the effects. Entry of immigrants with high fertility has redistributive impacts across generations similar to pay-as-you-go social security: initial generations are net winners, whereas later generations are net losers.

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