Competing for Talent: The United States and High-Skilled Immigration
The US and high-skilled immigration

Video

Event Summary
The third and final conference in AEI's investigation of international competitiveness focused on high-skilled immigrants and the potential of immigration policies to affect a country's competitiveness. Gordon Hanson, a professor of economics at the University of California, San Diego, began by presenting the highlights of his paper investigating this issue. In keeping with the previous conferences, he proposed his own definition of national "competitiveness" as a country's ability to capture market share. He concluded based on available data that the immigration of high-skilled workers, such as those with doctorates, is undoubtedly a positive influence on the overall economy . Hanson added that the net effect of low-skilled immigration on the overall economy is far less significant than the importance of attracting high-skilled labor. Barry Chiswick, a professor and chair of the Department of Economics at George Washington University, cited on a broad range of literature, including several AEI publications, to build on the potential problems with low-skilled immigration. He reinforced the importance of high-skilled immigration and emphasized that the United States remains competitive in this area despite its immigration policies, not because of them. Finally, he left the audience with a resounding policy challenge that the United States will have to face in the years to come.  
--Veronika Polakova

Event Description
Politicians often call for actions to enhance U.S. competitiveness and chide their political rivals for pursuing policies contrary to that purpose. Meanwhile, segments of the academic community have largely written off national competitiveness as meaningless. Economist Paul Krugman went so far as to say that "the obsession with competitiveness is not only wrong but dangerous." In light of the academic challenge to the notion of competitiveness, AEI has gathered experts to research the value of the concept of competitiveness in different spheres.

High-skilled immigration is one area where the concept of competitiveness may be quite valuable, as immigration policies have the potential to affect a country's competitiveness. How does the United States fare in the global competition for talent, and what policy changes could tip the scales in the United States' favor? This AEI conference will be the last of a three-part series; papers from the series will be published as an AEI book this fall.

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About the Author

 

Kevin A.
Hassett
  • Kevin A. Hassett is the State Farm James Q. Wilson Chair in American Politics and Culture at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). He is also a resident scholar and AEI's director of economic policy studies.



    Before joining AEI, Hassett was a senior economist at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and an associate professor of economics and finance at Columbia (University) Business School. He served as a policy consultant to the US Department of the Treasury during the George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations.

    Hassett has also been an economic adviser to presidential candidates since 2000, when he became the chief economic adviser to Senator John McCain during that year's presidential primaries. He served as an economic adviser to the George W. Bush 2004 presidential campaign, a senior economic adviser to the McCain 2008 presidential campaign, and an economic adviser to the Mitt Romney 2012 presidential campaign.

    Hassett is the author or editor of many books, among them "Rethinking Competitiveness" (2012), "Toward Fundamental Tax Reform" (2005), "Bubbleology: The New Science of Stock Market Winners and Losers" (2002), and "Inequality and Tax Policy" (2001). He is also a columnist for National Review and has written for Bloomberg.

    Hassett frequently appears on Bloomberg radio and TV, CNBC, CNN, Fox News Channel, NPR, and "PBS NewsHour," among others. He is also often quoted by, and his opinion pieces have been published in, the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.

    Hassett has a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. in economics from Swarthmore College.

  • Phone: 202-862-7157
    Email: khassett@aei.org
  • Assistant Info

    Name: Emma Bennett
    Phone: 202-862-5862
    Email: emma.bennett@aei.org

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