In a new paper (forthcoming in the Cato Journal), LSPI Texas Policy Fellow Meg Tuszynski and her SMU colleague Dean Stansel examine this question empirically, and find little – if any – evidence in support of this conjecture. Previous literature has assessed this question using immigrant populations as a whole, and found mixed results.
In this paper, Tuszynski and Stansel ask whether the region of origin for the immigrant populations matters. They use state scores from the Economic Freedom of North America index as their measure of institutional quality, and divide up immigrant populations in a variety of different ways. They find virtually no evidence of an economically and statistically significant relationship between the levels of immigration we have experienced in recent decades and a decline in economic institutions in the United States, regardless of the region or economic conditions of recent immigrants’ home countries. It appears that immigrants are not the harbingers of doom that many politicians suspect.