Friday, April 06, 2007

Immigrants fill the gaps from out-migration

Immigrants are filling the voids in large metro areas as domestic residents continue to move further out away from cities and inner suburbs. in these contexts, immigrants are the only source of growth. Consider the following:

Between 2000 and 2006, the New York metro area (including the suburbs) increased by 1 million immigrants; otherwise the region would have lost nearly 600,000 people. During the same time period in Los Angeles metro area would have lost more than 200,000 residents, and the San Francisco area would have lost 188,000 and the Boston area would have lost 101,000.
Many demographers associate shrinking populations with economic problems, typically poor job markets or prohibitive housing prices.

"A lot of cities rely on immigration to prop up their housing market and prop up their economies," said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.

The understanding here is that growth is good, and immigrants maintain growth in areas where citizens are not willing to live. But is this growth necessarily a good thing? Are there other ways to address population decreases without adding more people?

I am certainly in favor of immigration and, more importantly, immigrant civil rights, but I do not think it a good idea to assume that immigration is the answer to economic problems in large metro areas that are otherwise facing depopulation.

On the other hand, there are areas of the nation, such as Pennsylvania and West Virginia, that are not large metro areas and are depopulating to the point that there is no tax base. In these cases, immigration does solve a significant problem, and influse life into otherwise dead communities.

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