We Wanted Workers by George J. Borjas
Unraveling the Immigration Narrative

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While Borjas will go as far as to say that immigration will create winners and losers, the book informs without offering particularly satisfying conclusions.
-Publishers Weekly

Synopsis

From “America’s leading immigration economist” (The Wall Street Journal), a refreshingly level-headed exploration of the effects of immigration.


We are a nation of immigrants, and we have always been concerned about immigration. As early as 1645, the Massachusetts Bay Colony began to prohibit the entry of “paupers.” Today, however, the notion that immigration is universally beneficial has become pervasive. To many modern economists, immigrants are a trove of much-needed workers who can fill predetermined slots along the proverbial assembly line.


But this view of immigration’s impact is overly simplified, explains George J. Borjas, a Cuban-American, Harvard labor economist. Immigrants are more than just workers—they’re people who have lives outside of the factory gates and who may or may not fit the ideal of the country to which they’ve come to live and work. Like the rest of us, they’re protected by social insurance programs, and the choices they make are affected by their social environments.


In We Wanted Workers, Borjas pulls back the curtain of political bluster to show that, in the grand scheme, immigration has not affected the average American all that much. But it has created winners and losers. The losers tend to be nonmigrant workers who compete for the same jobs as immigrants. And somebody’s lower wage is somebody else’s higher profit, so those who employ immigrants benefit handsomely. In the end, immigration is mainly just another government redistribution program.


“I am an immigrant,” writes Borjas, “and yet I do not buy into the notion that immigration is universally beneficial. . . . But I still feel that it is a good thing to give some of the poor and huddled masses, people who face so many hardships, a chance to experience the incredible opportunities that our exceptional country has to offer.” Whether you’re a Democrat, a Republican, or an Independent, We Wanted Workers is essential reading for anyone interested in the issue of immigration in America today.

 

About George J. Borjas

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George J. Borjas is the Robert W. Scrivner Professor of Economics and Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. He is the recipient of the 2011 IZA Prize in Labor Economics. Martha Stewart
 
Published October 11, 2016 by W. W. Norton & Company. 240 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, Political & Social Sciences, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for We Wanted Workers
All: 3 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Good
on Jun 21 2016

Although the economic analyses may be obscure to some noneconomist readers, Borjas provides an intriguing, clearly written polemic.

Read Full Review of We Wanted Workers: Unraveling... | See more reviews from Kirkus

Publishers Weekly

Below average
on Apr 23 2017

While Borjas will go as far as to say that immigration will create winners and losers, the book informs without offering particularly satisfying conclusions.

Read Full Review of We Wanted Workers: Unraveling... | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

NY Journal of Books

Good
Reviewed by Marilyn Gates on Oct 31 2016

We Wanted Workers is essential reading for everyone concerned about how we can retain America’s historic role as a refuge for some of the world’s poor and oppressed as well as those simply hungry for the opportunities that our country has to offer.

Read Full Review of We Wanted Workers: Unraveling... | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books

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