Must-Read: Noah Smith: It Isn’t Just Asian Immigrants Who Thrive in the U.S.

Must-Read: Noah Smith: It Isn’t Just Asian Immigrants Who Thrive in the U.S.: “Nicholas Kristof… ask[s] the ‘awkward question’ of why Asian-Americans have been so economically successful….

…The focus on East Asians, and ‘Confucian’ culture, seems misplaced…. More than 43 percent of African immigrants hold a bachelor’s degree or higher…. That education translates into higher household income. Nigerian-Americans, for instance, have a median household income well above the American average, and above… those of Dutch or Korean descent. This isn’t the power of Confucius. It’s the magic of high-skilled immigration…. Every society has its own version of what Kristof calls Confucian values. They are universal. And skilled immigration brings the families with those values to the U.S….

This isn’t to ignore the contribution of low-skilled immigrants, who work hard, pay taxes and commit relatively few crimes, despite what some conservative politicians now claim… [who] have enriched the U.S. enormously…. Nor should the U.S. worry about inflicting harm on the source countries…. Skilled people [who] move to the U.S…. end up helping their ancestral nations…. Instead of singing the praises of Confucian culture, the U.S. should be harnessing the power of its immigration system…. An economy with more smart, dedicated, ambitious people–no matter where they come from–is good for everyone, but especially for the working class.


Brad DeLong
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