Mexican Immigration Problem Will Solve Itself
GWU economics professor Robert Dunn argues that the flood of illegal immigration from Mexico will stop of its own accord because a sharp decline in the birth rate is cutting the supply of out-of-work Mexican teenagers. More interesting still is his explanation for the trend:
Better education and improved job opportunities for women mean that it has become quite expensive for them to leave the labor force to have more children. The improved availability of birth control technology and liberalization of abortion rules in some countries mean that it is easier for women to avoid that outcome.
Another reason for the particularly sharp decline in Mexico is the cultural influence of the United States. Our xenophobic nationalists fear that we are being ‘Mexicanized.’ In fact the opposite may be underway. NAFTA, our mass media, the more widespread use of English, and the large number of people going back and forth (legally or otherwise) mean that Mexicans are increasingly influenced by our culture, and that implies fewer babies. The United States also has a fertility rate of 2.1, but that is the same as it was in 1990. Mexico is becoming more similar to the United States, which must frustrate their nationalists.
The irony is that we will ultimately pass some kind of immigration reform, even if it’s meaningless. If Dunn’s prediction turns out to be right, we’ll have politicians climbing all over themselves to proclaim that the law worked even though the law will likely have negligible impact.