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Statistical Constructs Are Not People

Here’s a letter to National Review Online:

Yuval Levin makes some worthwhile points in his essay “Reforming Immigration Reform” (May 6).  But he makes some blunders, too for example, his argument that “A huge amount of American social policy is directed to reducing the number of people in our country who have low levels of skills and education, and it would be bizarre to use our immigration policy to increase that number significantly.”

Presumably, the chief purpose of this huge amount of American social policy is to improve the lot of the poor.  While a policy of allowing in more low-skilled immigrants might well pull down statistical measures of well-being in America (for example, the average level of schooling), it will certainly and immediately improve the well-being of millions of actual, flesh-and-blood people – who find better lives in America – and also improve the lives of actual, flesh-and-blood Americans over time by strengthening the economy with both a deeper division of labor and the dynamism that is fueled by immigration.

The potential downward trend of country-specific statistical artifacts is no reason to block a policy that, especially, allows some of the world’s poorest people to enjoy at least that level of prosperity that even the poorest Americans take for granted.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030

I learned of Levin’s essay from this very good column by George Will.