Integrating immigrants to promote economic growth

In a piece written yesterday for the Huffington Post, University of Southern California Professor of Sociology and American Studies Manuel Pastor recommends immigrant integration as the key to economic growth. Pastor bases his argument off a recent analysis — the California Immigrant Integration Scorecard — conducted by his team at USC’s Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration. In the analysis, which scores ten of California’s regions by their ability to integrate newcomers, regions with the most resilient economies also scored high on immigrant integration.

This study’s findings are consistent with previous research that has examined immigrant presence and metropolitan economies. Past studies have shown that the share of the foreign-born at the beginning of a period is associated with more rapid GDP growth in the years that follow.

Pastor writes, “immigrants generally have higher rates of labor force participation and are more likely than native-born co-ethnics to start businesses. When people are most able to contribute their full extent of human capital — when they are welcomed rather than shunned — economies thrive. And in California, where a third of the labor force is immigrant, promoting immigrant success is the right thing to do to promote our economic future.”

In the study, Fresno has the most room for improvement while Santa Clara is the frontrunner, receiving the highest overall score. Pastor emphasizes that each region has something to learn — there is no terminal degree in immigrant integration. The real point of the Scorecard, he writes, “is to show which areas might have strategies others can emulate as they pursue a bit of friendly (and self-interested) competition.”

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