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RE: A Natural Experiment in Political Economy

John, your apt analysis got me thinking again about the impact of immigration, including illegal immigration, on California’s declining fortunes. As I wrote earlier this month, there is ample evidence that illegal immigration is not a significant factor in California’s woes. Your analysis sent me back to some data on the influx of illegal immigrants into two states — California and Texas — with radically different economic results.

It turns out that Texas has nearly as big an issue with illegal immigration as California. A September 2010 Pew study has these tidbits:

Unauthorized immigrants accounted for 3.7% of the nation’s population in 2009. Their shares of states’ total population were highest in California (6.9%), Nevada (6.8%) and Texas (6.5%). … California had the largest number (1.8 million) of unauthorized immigrants in the 2009 labor force, and they made up a larger share of the labor force there (9.3%) than in any other state except Nevada (9.4%). Texas had an estimated 1 million unauthorized immigrants in the labor force in 2009, which represented 8.7% of the labor force.

In other words, the sharply divergent economic policies and political environments of the two states have much to do with their radically different economic outputs; illegal immigration appears to be negligible factor.


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