Doctoral students and immigration:
From time to time somebody clucks (Keith E. Maskus et al. Doctoral Students and US Immigration Policy SCIENCE vol. 342 no. 6158 November 1, 2013 page 564) over how any immigration policy other than wide doors prevents capable young people who could do good science from moving where they could do that science best, to the advantage of themselves, the host country and the world.  With some cautionary remarks the article takes the position, bring them in and let them stay.

I think there is a, pardon my French, a racist overtone here.  The assumption is: all foreigners are alike.  Well I don’t think they are.  Traditionally the US has been rather middle class.  That’s coming to an end, but it probably holds that the US is more middle class than other countries.  So when you bring in a productive worker from a country of a given size, you are not decreasing that country’s supply in proportion to the size of the population.  You are decreasing it in proportion to the size of their middle class or privileged class.  That’s more serious.

Furthermore it takes generations for serious infertility to develop when you start outbreeding.  But these immigrants from relatively inbred or optimally bred countries again are not random members.  Their privileged status has allowed them the social opportunity to select mates from a wide pool; their fertility is already compromised even before they take the radical step of migrating.  It does not seem to be in their best interest to add insult to injury even for the reward of science done a few years earlier than it would have been or entrepreneurial skills being more common and thus their products cheaper.

The question of the fertility or immigrants is not on the table when such things are discussed.  That is understandable however regrettable.  But the issue of whether these are random members of the society from which they hail – on that one I see no excuse. 

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