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Bringing More Minds to America

Bringing More Minds to America

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bringing more minds to America

Download PDFIntroduction

The United States is in a precarious condition. The American economy still has not fully recovered from the downturn that began in 2008. A mortgage and banking crisis, followed by a long recession, has given way to an anemic recovery. Americans have endured an alarmingly high unemployment rate—at times, more than 10% of the working age population has been eager and willing but unable to find work.1

For Americans long accustomed to stable growth and low unemployment rates, the past few years have come as a profound and unsettling shock. As policymakers rattle around their tool kits looking for ways to help the American economy, now is a good time to take a new look at immigration, in particular high-skilled immigration.

In this paper, we will examine some of what scholars and the public have learned over the years about the economic effects of adding new skilled immigrants to the work force.

There is no doubt that immigration is often a contentious and polarizing political issue. Reasonable people of good will can come to different conclusions about how much immigration the nation should permit, but there are good reasons to separate the issue of high-skilled immigration from low-skilled immigration. One reason has to do with a gradual evolution in thinking about the nature of modern economies and how they function, grow, and thrive over time.

The Human Capital Revolution

Over the past few decades, economists, social scientists, and other scholars have begun to realize the importance of “human capital” to a nation’s economic success.2 When we think of capital, we typically think of hard assets that can produce income over time, such as factories, farm equipment, and manufacturing plants. Human capital is another kind of capital. It is the stock of talent, skill, know-how, intelligence, education, and experience embedded within individuals that helps them to produce income.3

Consider what this means for the American economy as it has changed over time. The American economy transitioned from largely agricultural roots in the 18th century to an industrial power in the 19th and 20th centuries to include a large service and advanced technology dimension today.4 Over that time, as sophisticated technology has penetrated to the center of economic life, the role played in the American economy by human capital has grown steadily larger.5 Greater amounts of human capital are required to develop and manipulate the technology that drives the economy. The American economy has gone from one that emphasizes brawn to one that relies on brains.

How important is this human capital? According to recent estimates, the stock of human capital is over $750 trillion.6 According to a research report from JP Morgan called “U.S. Recession and Repression Are Only in Our Minds,” this is much greater than the roughly $70 trillion of physical and financial assets owned by American households.7

As important as human capital is to economic success, it is not evenly distributed around the world. There is ample human capital already in the United States, but there are also enormous stocks of human capital—and potential capital—found overseas.

This is a constructive way for policymakers to think about skilled immigration—it holds the potential to broaden and deepen the stock of human capital in the United States.


bringing more minds to America

Download PDFIntroduction

The United States is in a precarious condition. The American economy still has not fully recovered from the downturn that began in 2008. A mortgage and banking crisis, followed by a long recession, has given way to an anemic recovery. Americans have endured an alarmingly high unemployment rate—at times, more than 10% of the working age population has been eager and willing but unable to find work.1

For Americans long accustomed to stable growth and low unemployment rates, the past few years have come as a profound and unsettling shock. As policymakers rattle around their tool kits looking for ways to help the American economy, now is a good time to take a new look at immigration, in particular high-skilled immigration.

In this paper, we will examine some of what scholars and the public have learned over the years about the economic effects of adding new skilled immigrants to the work force.

There is no doubt that immigration is often a contentious and polarizing political issue. Reasonable people of good will can come to different conclusions about how much immigration the nation should permit, but there are good reasons to separate the issue of high-skilled immigration from low-skilled immigration. One reason has to do with a gradual evolution in thinking about the nature of modern economies and how they function, grow, and thrive over time.

The Human Capital Revolution

Over the past few decades, economists, social scientists, and other scholars have begun to realize the importance of “human capital” to a nation’s economic success.2 When we think of capital, we typically think of hard assets that can produce income over time, such as factories, farm equipment, and manufacturing plants. Human capital is another kind of capital. It is the stock of talent, skill, know-how, intelligence, education, and experience embedded within individuals that helps them to produce income.3

Consider what this means for the American economy as it has changed over time. The American economy transitioned from largely agricultural roots in the 18th century to an industrial power in the 19th and 20th centuries to include a large service and advanced technology dimension today.4 Over that time, as sophisticated technology has penetrated to the center of economic life, the role played in the American economy by human capital has grown steadily larger.5 Greater amounts of human capital are required to develop and manipulate the technology that drives the economy. The American economy has gone from one that emphasizes brawn to one that relies on brains.

How important is this human capital? According to recent estimates, the stock of human capital is over $750 trillion.6 According to a research report from JP Morgan called “U.S. Recession and Repression Are Only in Our Minds,” this is much greater than the roughly $70 trillion of physical and financial assets owned by American households.7

As important as human capital is to economic success, it is not evenly distributed around the world. There is ample human capital already in the United States, but there are also enormous stocks of human capital—and potential capital—found overseas.

This is a constructive way for policymakers to think about skilled immigration—it holds the potential to broaden and deepen the stock of human capital in the United States.


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Published by: Richard Herman, Cleveland Immigration Lawyer on Feb 08, 2012
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The human CapiTal imperaTive:
Bringing More Minds to AMericA
By nk shulz
shla, naal chamb FuadW Walla Fllw, Ama ep iu
2012
 
The Human Capital Imperative:
Bringing More Minds to America
 
Nick Schulz
Scholar, National Chamber FoundationDeWitt Wallace Fellow, American Enterprise Institute 
Nick Schulz is the DeWitt Wallace Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) where he researches issues o political economy and technology. He is editor-in-chie o American.com, AEI’s inuential online journal o ideas ocusing on business, economics,and public aairs, as well as the National Chamber Foundation’s (NCF’s) Scholar. Schulz is also a columnist or Forbes.com. Tere he writes the
 Economics 2.0 
eature in which heexamines technology-led economic growth, politics, and public policy.Schulz is the co-author with Arnold Kling o 
From Poverty to Prosperity: Intangible Assets,
 
Hidden Liabilities and the Lasting riumph Over Scarcity
(Encounter Books, 2009), anacclaimed book on modern economic growth and development. Schulz is requently invited todiscuss the research and ndings in the book at various events in the United States and abroad.During the mid-2000s, Schulz was the editorial director o 
echCentralStation
, a path-breaking online think tank and magazine. Prior to that role, he was the politics editor o FoxNews online in New York where he coordinated coverage o the 2000 election, post-electiondeadlock, and September 11 attacks. He was also the politics and opinions editor or
Voter.com
, a start-up political website and portal.In addition to his work in online media, Schulz was an award-winning television producer with multiple credits on PBS and elsewhere. He also produced or co-produced severaldocumentaries, including
Te Stockholder Society
,
Te First Measured Century
, and
Déjà vu All Over Again: Te Life of Yogi Berra
.In the 1990s, Schulz served as a policy analyst and aide to ormer vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp and ormer Secretary o Education William J. Bennett. He was also a consultantto Platinum echnology, a major relational database management rm, and a consultant atthe Sotware Publishers Association.Schulz has been a media ellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanord University andis on the board o advisors o the Ewing Marion Kauman Foundation’s survey o economics bloggers.Schulz continues to publish widely in many major newspapers and magazines around thecountry, including
Te 
 
Washington Post 
,
Te Wall Street Journal 
, the
Los Angeles imes,
 
USA oday
, and
Slate 
. He and his wie and three children live in suburban Washington, D.C.
 
Page 1
The Human Capital Imperative:Bringing More Minds to America
 
By Nick SchulzScholar, National Chamber FoundationDeWitt Wallace Fellow, American Enterprise Institute
100 Years Standing Up for American Enterprise
U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

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