Some less than supportive comments on my Temporary Foreign Workers article make me wonder about economic literacy

Some comments on an article I published in The Globe and Mail about Canadian immigration policy,  Canada’s version of the guest worker programs used in some European countries, are just astounding.

My analysis is based on nothing more than a simple demand and supply model of the labour market to argue that this program amounts to a wage subsidy. Since it does not seem to address any clear market failure it likely promotes both inefficiency and inequity.

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Immigration policy should make children a priority

The Obama administration has offered a temporary reprieve from deportation for up to 1 and 3/4 million immigrants who came to the United States as children.

Whatever the immediate merits of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, it signals a much broader principle all immigrant receiving countries should recognize: children experience migration differently than adults, and  public policy can create both great opportunity and great risks for their long-run capacity to become independent and successful adults.

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Immigrants face challenges in finding jobs that are not of their own making

The challenges immigrants face in finding jobs have to do with not just the characteristics and skills they bring to the labour market, but also the state of our economy and the barriers put in their way. More and more tinkering with the selection rules used to admit immigrants will not on its own address these challenges.

In a post on my blog I called for lower rates of immigration during business cycle downturns, and a reader commented by saying:

I arrived in Canada in July 2011 with my family and was called for exactly one job interview a couple of weeks ago. To say I am scarred is putting it mildly. I left a very successful career with the knowledge that it will be difficult to get a similar position but I never anticipated that I would end up feeling invisible and a non-entity with absolutely nothing to offer. Since coming here I have been shelling out money for everything, university fees for my kids and so on. Other than contributing to the Canadian economy through our expenses, I feel immigrants are not considered to be of any particular value.

It struck me how odd and incomplete the public policy response by Canadian opinion makers and governments is to this kind of concern.

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Is the U.S. Still a ‘Land of Opportunity’?

The New York Times posed this question to a group of experts, Richard Florida, Isabel Sawhill, Timothy Smeeding, and five others, including me.

More specifically, they asked:

There is a growing consensus that it is harder to move up the economic ladder in the United States than in many other places, like Canada. Should more Americans consider leaving the U.S. to get ahead? Or can the U.S. make changes to be more of a “land of opportunity”?

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Three questions to ask the Minister of Finance

“Jobs and Growth the Priorities as Minister Flaherty Hosts Pre-Budget Consultations”, screams the title of a press release from the Department of Finance issued about a month ago.

Jim Flaherty wants to hear from Canadians about how he can maintain the federal government’s “focus on jobs and economic growth while reducing the deficit.”

But this week is a particularly good time to first pose a few questions to him in the hope of clarifying some facts about jobs, unemployment, and the role of government policy.

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