Immigration to US for whites only?

An argument that has been made by our friends over at VDare is that the entire idea of America being a nation of immigrants is misguided, at least immigrants of the multi-racial variety. After all, the constitution enshrined slavery (certain heterodox methods of interpreting the document not-withstanding) and the Naturalization Act of 1790 only allowed for citizenship for “free white persons”. Occasionally this argument veers off into strange directions. For instance when Peter Brimelow attempts to minimize the importance of immigration to American history:

It’s also true the intellectual elite tends to think America was Built By Immigrants because they live in New York or Los Angeles or somewhere like that—which are heavily immigrant cities, entirely immigrant cities.

But the last estimate that I saw, when I was researching Alien Nation, was that if there had been no immigration at all after 1790—none at all—the population of the US would still be about half of what it is now, through natural increase.

Having only half the population we currently have doesn’t seem like a way to ensure prosperity and minimizing the importance of cities like New York or LA (which make up a disproportionately large part of the American economy, these two cities alone accounting for about $2 trillion out of a total American economy of $15 trillion, or about one seventh , while combined of the only about 4% of the population, ~12 million people in the cities out of 300 million Americans) is even worse in that regard. But the primary focus of this critique of immigration is of the non-white variety. So, did the founders want only whites in this country (beyond perhaps slaves), and if so should we care?

Now the first and most obvious point is that the Naturalization Act of 1790 was an act about citizenship not immigration. We here at open borders have talked at length about the importance of disentangling these two concepts. But a modern understanding of the difference doesn’t mean that the Founders intended for this to be different. Perhaps they simply assumed that a path to citizenship was a necessary prerequisite for permanent residency in the United States. That’s what VDare would apparently like to argue anyways.

However, the Naturalization Act of 1790 could not have possibly been meant as an immigration restriction. After all article 1 section 9 of the United States Constitution states:

The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.

While this was primarily to prevent a blocking of the slave trade before 1808, the addition of “migration” as well as importation of “persons” seems to imply more than just slaves. Furthermore, the act which banned that trade did not attempt to ban voluntary non-white immigration. The text  only bans importing “any negro, mulatto, or person of colour, in any ship or vessel, for the purpose of selling them in any port or place within the jurisdiction of the United States as slaves, or to be held to service or labour.” If the founder’s intent was to deny non-whites entry or the right to migrate to the United States they seem to have left enormous loop holes.

Also while writers at VDare are quick to cite Federalist No. 2 to support the idea of the white American ethnic identity, whether John Jay is truly encapsulating the ideas of his fellow founders, or is even accurate in his description of the United States at the time, is questionable. The relevant quote from Jay being:

Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people — a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs

With religion for instance, allow me to quote Thomas Jefferson in reference to the Virginia Act for Religious Freedom:

Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting “Jesus Christ,” so that it would read “A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;” the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.

And over at the Huffington Post, David Bier present us with a number of quotes in favor of immigration generally and at least one quote from Thomas Paine directly in opposition to Jay’s view of the United States:

If there is a country in the world where concord… would be least expected, it is America…made up as it is of people from different nations, accustomed to different forms and habits of government, speaking different languages, and more different in their modes of worship, it would appear that the union of such a people was impracticable.

And yet Paine still argues the country works as a propositional nation (the very thing VDare is attempting to deny). What this demonstrates is not the Founders were unambiguously denying that America had a particular ethnic origin, but that they were divided on the issue. Their ultimate actions however look a lot more similar to keyhole solutions we here at Open Borders: The Case might support than the close the border solutions of VDare. If the United States was meant by some of the Founders to be for whites only, it’s equally not clear that the men who warned against the dangers to liberty of standing armies would have supported militarizing a border against peaceful immigrants.

But this leads us to the question of whether in the modern world we should even care what the founders thought? The founders also failed to end the immense injustice of slavery or give women voting rights, things even conservative admirers of the founders should find to be major failings. Franklin’s own position on Germans in the United States would seem to be rather problematic now that Germans are the single largest ancestry for Americans to claim. Losing 17% of the US population that is almost entirely white probably would not be a preferred outcome for the VDare writers.

But ultimately the founder’s views can only be a proxy. They were certainly intelligent men and the opinions of intelligent people are generally worth at least considering. But in the modern world we have far more data and experience on how economics, politics, and just the way the world in general works. Thus both people asserting the founders supported immigration and those saying they opposed it are discussing a point of view that should carry very little if any weight in modern debates. The founders may have intended a propositional nation or may not have (or more likely some believed in one position and others in the other). But they no longer have to live with the consequences of such a choice and those who do should decide the issue.

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Chris Hendrix is a Masters student in history in Atlanta, Georgia with an interest in the history of borders. See also:

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26 thoughts on “Immigration to US for whites only?”

  1. Brimelow: “But the last estimate that I saw, when I was researching Alien Nation, was that if there had been no immigration at all after 1790—none at all—the population of the US would still be about half of what it is now, through natural increase.”

    Really?

    That would mean that about 4 million in 1790 would have grown to 160 million today. That’s a factor of 40. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_the_United_States)

    Germany had 22 million in 1790 and now has 81 million (including immigrants). That’s a factor of less than 4. Sure, there were millions of emigrants (mostly in the 19th and early 20th century), 3 million dead in WW I (including civilians and rounding up) and another 7 million dead in WW II (again including civilians). If the German population had grown at a rate as is claimed for Americans, there would be 800 additional million Germans, and that cannot explain the difference. (Source: for 1790 figure, mean of closest data points: http://www.lsg.musin.de/geschichte/geschichte/lkg/bev%C3%B6lkerungsentwicklung_d-gb.htm)

    World population has grown from about 1 billion in 1804 to 7 billion, a factor of 7. (Source: http://geography.about.com/od/obtainpopulationdata/a/worldpopulation.htm

    Something is fishy about Brimelow’s numbers. I guess he starts from some “one-drop rule” and counts all those who have some distant ancestors who lived in the US in 1790. With realistic growth, something like 30 million would be plausible, or just 10% of the current population.

    1. No, he’s right. America really had much higher fertility than Europe, including Germany, for a very long time owing to high wages and cheap land in an underpopulated country. When the economy was agricultural the availability of land was a primary determinant of income and the ability to support early marriage and large families.

      http://www.profam.org/pub/fia/fia_1705.htm

      “Franklin exhibited quiet pride in this American difference. Simply put, the emerging American nation was sexually vigorous, a quality focused on the creation of new and fruitful homes. By the 1770’s, America was in the midst of an historically unprecedented Baby Boom. As Franklin intuited, the average age of first marriage for all American women—not just those on the frontier — fell to age 20. The total fertility rate of Americans—measuring the average number of live births per woman over her lifetime — did reach the remarkable figure of 8.0. The natural increase of the population was an extraordinary 2.5 percent a year. The average age of Americans in this demographic hothouse was 16. All the available evidence shows that birth control techniques—although known to people at the time, indeed in every time—faced deliberate rejection by the Americans.”

      You linked to this article, but note the incredibly high rate of population growth, over 30% per decade, from 1790-1860.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_the_United_States

      For comparison, 600,000 slaves were brought to America, but today there are 38.9 million African-Americans. The vast majority are descended from slaves, not later immigrants.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_in_the_United_States
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_American#Demographics

      If African-Americans managed growth by well over 40 times, why deny high rates of growth for other groups? Historical American birth rates vs German birth rates, and surname analysis and family trees, all support the higher rate of natural increase in the U.S. compared to Germany.

      1. To arrive at my estimate of about 30 million descendents I took a factor of 7 for worldwide population growth. My calculation does not rely on the lower factor of 4 for Germany. As I wrote, for various reasons this is certainly an underestimate. My point was that a factor of 40 still looked implausibly high.

        Your arguments are good. My back-of-an-envelope estimate does not prove my point that the claim is off by a wide margin. I am still not totally convinced, but I see now that it is a closer call than I had initially thought. I especially missed the strong growth in the first decades with rather little immigration. Thanks a lot.

        I might try and doubt those numbers. E. g. how can there be reliable numbers for slaves brought to the US after 1807? Or could there be a tendency to under-report birth abroad because that might make you suspicious? Maybe there is something to it. But it feels too much like I am just groping around in a biased way because I have already made my mind up.

        Another argument might be that immigration drives high population growth. Immigrants to a wealthy country suddenly find themselves with the means for a larger family (and often they do have larger families, which levels off only later). They are also over-represented in younger age cohorts. This could mask lower growth for natives. But I don’t know whether this can make a real difference here. Not obvious to me, would have to think about it more.

        So without any good arguments, I will just accept the claim for now. But then this means that immigration under open borders did not have such a large effect, right? Or that a native population is easily “swamped” by immigrants under open borders?

        1. The history shows that early immigration mattered more than later immigration, because of the opportunity to compound with high birth rates before the demographic transition. While borders were mostly open, transport costs were enormously high relative to incomes, with migrants becoming indentured servants for years to pay off their tickets, and the place premium for America relative to Europe was around a factor of 2 (as opposed to 10 or more relative to poor countries today). Transport and communication technologies also meant that migrants were strongly cut off from their native lands and families left at home. So not many migrants came, despite the legal opportunity.

          As technology advanced and income gaps relative to potential migrant sources increased so did immigration, and when immigration started to reach really high levels as a portion of the population the American electorate cut it off before ‘swamping’ levels were reached. So we have never seen the level of migration that would happen given open borders and modern technology and income gaps between countries. Puerto Rico provides some hint: close to half the population moved to the United States because it enjoyed open borders, with the flow slowing as valuable American concessions and subsidies made staying home more profitable. Combined with survey evidence on willingness to migrate, it looks like hundreds of millions would move to the United States if it opened its borders.

          1. Your explanation seems to be purely via pull factors. If I look at German emigration (sorry, that’s the example I am best familiar with), that can explain only part of emigration. There were already relatively many Germans in 1790, but they had come for other reasons, mostly because of religious freedom. Later there were sharp spikes in the 1850’s (after the failed revolution of 1848/9) and in the late 1880’s and somewhat in the 1870’s. Part of the latter spike may be explained by the depression from 1873 to the late 70’s. But the peak came after things began to look up economically. In both cases you had push factors, repression after the revolution, frustration with the way things worked out in Germany after unification when many groups lost their faith in the country (Liberals, Social Democrats, Catholics, Jews, peasants from Junker-dominated Mecklenburg, etc.).

            My guess would be that push factors played the larger role. (Here’s an interesting resource: http://www.energyofanation.org/4e667f77-e302-4c1a-9d2e-178a0ca31a32.html?NodeId=) The pattern of immigration to the US was also rather volatile in general. If mostly slow factors were at work (sinking transportation costs, expectations about relative wage levels), I’d expect a more gradual development. So cranking up the part that is driven by pull factors might not increase emigration rates all that much.

            The other point I would make is that probably there should be something like dimishing marginal emigration with larger differences. In a country you will have a certain part of the population that could emigrate (most can’t). If they are willing to leave for a raise in wages of 200%, fine if it is 500%, but there will be fewer and fewer additional people who would only make the step at a higher level. High emigration rates seem to be mostly somewhere in a range from .5% to perhaps 1.5%of the population (off of my head). That has not changed so much from the 19th century where you have open borders (e. g. in the EU). Also total emigration over a longer time frame usually levelled off at perhaps 10% of the population (e. g. Germany) or in more extreme cases 30% (e. g. Ireland). Bulgaria has seen something like 10% of the population emigrating. As far as I know surveys show that there are about 700 million people worldwide who would consider emigrating. That’s also only somewhat more than 10% of the relevant population. I don’t know enough about Puerto Rico, could you please tell me over what time frame the 50% emigrated?

            You certainly don’t make some silly argument that a ratio 5 times higher translates to five times more emigration. So where would you see the relative size of push factors on average? And what would your expectation be of how much emigration increases if the ratio goes up from 2 to 10? (And is 10 really the average worldwide for what you could get more in the US?)

            1. “My guess would be that push factors played the larger role.”
              They matter, but as pull becomes more and more intense, it takes on a larger and larger role.

              “As far as I know surveys show that there are about 700 million people worldwide who would consider emigrating. That’s also only somewhat more than 10% of the relevant population.”

              The figures are heterogenous with income gaps, knowledge, and other factors.

              http://www.gallup.com/poll/124028/700-million-worldwide-desire-migrate-permanently.aspx

              “From its surveys in 135 countries between 2007 and 2009, Gallup finds residents of sub-Saharan African countries are most likely to express a desire to move abroad permanently. Thirty-eight percent of the adult population in the region — or an estimated 165 million — say they would like to do this if the opportunity arises. Residents in Asian countries are the least likely to say they would like to move — with 10% of the adult population, or roughly 250 million, expressing a desire to migrate permanently.”

              Knowledge is important because it would increase with open borders. When some migrants succeed or send remittances others follow their example. 35% of Mexicans say they would like to move to the United States. This is also tied in with a large pre-existing migrant community to reduce culture shock and uncertainty.

              http://www.pewglobal.org/2013/04/29/u-s-image-rebounds-in-mexico/

              “And is 10 really the average worldwide for what you could get more in the US?”
              It is in the vicinity of the figures for Africa outside of SA. For very populous Nigeria the figure is 15, Egypt 12, for a few other countries in the dataset there it is 7 or 5.

              http://international.cgdev.org/publication/place-premium-wage-differences-identical-workers-across-us-border-working-paper-148

              1. “They matter, but as pull becomes more and more intense, it takes on a larger and larger role.”

                The trust of my argument was that if e. g. you had 50% push and 50% pull for immigration in the 19th century, and you can make a reasonable argument that higher differentials double the effect of pull factors now (taking for granted that there is no connection between the two sides which is debatable), it would work out only to an extra 50%.

                And if pull factors are not all economic in a narrow sense (e. g. linguistic or cultural attraction, preexisting communities you can emigrate to, etc.), the effect is still smaller. Plus my argument about diminishing supply of emigrants with a higher premium.

                Thanks a lot for the link to the Gallup poll and also for the other links.

                What I found very interesting was how many people consider emigrating to Spain, namely 35 million or roughly the size of Spain’s current population, but only 25 million are interested in Germany although I guess Germany beats Spain on almost any economic dimension. Of course, Latin Americans speak Spanish, and hardly anyone knows any German outside of Central Europe. So feeling attracted to an environment that is linguistically and culturally closer to you seems to have a large effect on the pull side.

                1. “The trust of my argument was that if e. g. you had 50% push and 50% pull for immigration in the 19th century, and you can make a reasonable argument that higher differentials double the effect of pull factors now (taking for granted that there is no connection between the two sides which is debatable), it would work out only to an extra 50%.”

                  That’s assuming additive rather than multiplicative effects, which is questionable. Being able to pay back the costs of migrating in 5 years or 5 months of labor isn’t just a minor incremental change.

                  “So feeling attracted to an environment that is linguistically and culturally closer to you seems to have a large effect on the pull side.”

                  Yes, this is quite true, and ties in with the tendency for former colonial powers to receive immigrants from their former colonies. Since English is the most prominent international language that expands the supply of potential migrants for the United States, Australia, Canada, U.K., Singapore, and so on.

                  1. “That’s assuming additive rather than multiplicative effects, which is questionable. Being able to pay back the costs of migrating in 5 years or 5 months of labor isn’t just a minor incremental change.”

                    I don’t know whether multiplicative is the right model either. But I agree, there should be some interaction.

                    Thanks again for your comments. We are so off-topic that I will not respond here. But I guess I will have the pleasure of debating with you on some other post.

          2. One more point I would like to make. It is only fair that advocates of open borders can plausibly refute any claims that in the event there would be disastrous effects. But this only applies to a steady state.

            As with all kinds of liberalizations, you can make a point that the steady state would not be the problem, but a transition that’s too fast could prove disruptive. Since it is not a realistic assumption that under any circumstances the US or the EU will open their borders tomorrow, proving something for this case seems like a moot point to me.

            So my question to you is this: Suppose you wanted to cheer people here at Open Borders up and make them very optimistic. What would be the fastest transition to open borders that you could imagine and that is also realistic? My personal guess would be at least several decades. So any effects from the transition would be drawn out.

            If you argue that the transition could lead to unacceptable problems, it would be appropriate to discuss this for the shortest realistic transition period and not for open borders tomorrow.

            To make a comparison. Suppose you knew that you have a nice piece of land and 1,000 tourists will come to spend some time there, but you do not have a hotel for them. If you think about it as: they will all knock on my door tomorrow, sure, you will feel overwhelmed and you could really not handle it. But if you knew there will first be only a few and it increases to 1,000 over decades, it seems like no big deal. You build a small hotel to lodge them. Then you slowly expand it. If you had told some popular tourist destination at the start how many people would come, I guess most would have been scared to death and would have opted for making sure no one ever comes.

            1. “As with all kinds of liberalizations, you can make a point that the steady state would not be the problem, but a transition that’s too fast could prove disruptive. Since it is not a realistic assumption that under any circumstances the US or the EU will open their borders tomorrow, proving something for this case seems like a moot point to me.”

              I don’t think there’s a significant case for transition problems in a large country. The most plausible arguments for problems are about the post-transition path of development.

              1. Interesting. My impression would be that the gut reaction of many people who are first confronted with an open borders position is something like: If you open borders there will be millions at our doors literally tomorrow. That’s overwhelming and would lead to instant chaos (I guess Germans are more scared than others if things do not work orderly). I can’t deny that I understand this argument on an intuitive level.

                And there could really be some transitional problems. E. g. with rather strict provisions on how you can build and rent extra accomodation, an influx might be too large to absorb in a short time.

                You have this phenomenon here in Germany that after Romania and Bulgaria have entered the Schengen agreement there are droves of immigrants who just camp out on some public spaces in larger cities. I guess even if they wanted to rent cheap rooms, there wouldn’t be any and German laws would make it hard to supply them.

                (There has been a lot of handwringing about this in Germany, which I find very unfair. There has not been a large influx of Bulgarians and Romanians in the first place, the vast majority of whom do not end up in this way, and then the “problem” is maybe a little annoying, but not really serious.)

                So what would be the best arguments post-transition in your view? Something like political externalities?

                1. Long-term lower economic growth and institutional decline or slower improvement driven by externalities of cognitive ability and human capital, of the kind studied by Garett Jones:

                  http://mason.gmu.edu/~gjonesb/

                  That analysis suggests that developed countries should at least have unlimited permanent human-capital increasing or neutral immigration, but suggests low-skill migration might be better handled using guest worker programs that allow access to developed country labor markets (with all the enormous humanitarian benefits) without political integration.

                  Singapore’s immigration system is the best example of this model. I think that it would be much better for the U.S. or E.U. to adopt the Singaporean model instead of open borders. People around here call this a “keyhole solution.”

                  The problem of some people in tents is just trivial in scope relative to the effects on incomes, poverty, political institutions, positive or negative. On the positive side, the talk of doubling GDP if the place premium is independent of the characteristics of the population of the country. On the negative side, if population changes negatively alter the institutions that make a country such a desirable destination that would again dwarf transition costs. Either way, the impacts are far more important than short-term perceptions of tidiness.

  2. Chris, you may argue in any direction you want, but multiculturalism doesn’t work in the USA any better than in other countries like UK, France, Holland, Norway, Germany or Belgium. The latest race riots, black flash mobs killing whites and the entire Zimmerman-Martin episode boils to the breaking point. By adding more incompatible cultures and languages and poverty stricken people to the USA, we assure our demise not only culturally, but environmentally. Open borders hastens the destruction of America as a viable civilization. Your arguments for open borders equates to Muslim terrorism, female genital mutilation, honor killings, death to gays, subjugation of women to less status their Muslims’ dogs and fracturing of any host country. Your entire thrust for open borders remains insane, inane, unsupportable, unsustainable and just plain out of touch with reality. Frosty Wooldridge, 6 continent world bicycle traveler, author: America on the Brink: The Next Added 100 Million Americans

    1. Is there an argument hidden somewhere, or is it just about ad hominems and stringing loaded words and images together?

      Let me try and make sense of it: You claim there would be a Muslim takeover of the US with open borders? If so, could you please flesh this out with realistic assumptions? How would this work in the real world? Please go beyond examples and quantify your argument.

      1. Man, I don’t have time to hurdle this literary intellectual brain vacancy situation. You cannot keep adding more people into a finite land mass. You cannot feed them. You cannot water them. You cannot keep accelerating carbon footprint. You cannot accelerate water footprint, ecological footprint, energy footprint, etc. What do you folks use for common sense and the simple understanding of the exponential function? I feel like I speaking to a bunch of 1st graders with no ability to extrapolate other than asking ridiculous questions. FW

        1. How about answering my questions?

          I always find angst of a crowded US funny. I mean you guys have 89 people per square mile. Germany has 583, and it is not particularly crowded over here either. The Netherlands even have 1,287 people per square mile, no problems there. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sovereign_states_and_dependent_territories_by_population_density)

          If you are concerned about over-population of the world (which I think is misguided for other reasons), immigration only changes where people are, not how many there are. Since birth rates of immigrants rapidly converge with those of natives and birth rates in developed countries are comparably low, actually you should welcome more immigration to the US. Not even the sign of your argument is correct.

          1. Frosty may not be the best advocate for his argument. From his talk about the exponential function, he may be basing his comments off the lectures of physicist Albert Bartlett at the University of Colorado-Boulder.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Allen_Bartlett
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-QA2rkpBSY

            Historically, after the Reagan amnesty there was a surge in total fertility rates among Mexican-Americans as the amnestied migrants brought their families to the United States. And academic research has found that migrants from Mexico to the United States have had stable or increasing fertility in recent decades while Mexicans in Mexico experienced declining and lesser fertility. Since Mexico has been a major source of U.S. immigrants, a world population increasing effect, at least from illegal immigration to the U.S., is actually plausible over a time scale of decades.

            In general we know that migration can and often has increased world population by letting people afford more kids, as early migration to the United States drastically affected later population. It is also possible for migration to reduce population if migrants undergo a demographic transition faster when exposed to different educational, institutional, and cultural effects in the new country.

            Environmentalists concerned with resource depletion and pollution may also object to bringing the resource use of the world population up to American levels through migration, preferring to ‘level down’ towards lower levels of resource consumption rather than ‘level up.’

            1. Sure, you will get impressive predictions fitting an exponential function to any data that go up. Vipul Naik had a link to a very good post of his where he raises the question whether exponential growth is the right model. A logistic model looks more adequate to me if you assume some carrying capacity. And then having almost exponential growth only means that you are way below the limit. Or what would be the point of being scared of something that can go up indefinitely anyway? I had never thought that you could also use Lotka-Volterra equations in this context (but then Volterra was studying population dynamics) and I can’t see how they would apply in the modern world (but perhaps for the long times of stagnant populations oscillating around a level).

              For all I know, there seems to be a pattern where immigrants at first tend to have larger families than they would have had at home (some wealth effect), and only with the next generation things start to converge to native levels, but then quite rapidly. I don’t know whether you know the book “The Myth of the Muslim Tide” by Doug Saunders. He has some data for immigrants to Europe that fit such a pattern.

              With effects possibly going in both directions (a higher rate than at home and then a lower rate, a different sequence of when demographic transition sets in), it is not apriori clear which one will win out. (Okay, that makes my original argument weaker where I claimed the net effect would be in one direction. I’d give a you a “possible”, but not a “plausible” for open borders)

              If you assume (1) a close correspondence between gdp and resource consumption, (2) that open borders would double world gdp and (3) a doubling of world gdp every twenty or so years (probably a conservative estimate for some time), you would only speed things up by those twenty years or so. You will come to the same point anyway quite soon.

              And then there should be effects from increasing prices on innovation and also economies of a higher population density (I don’t know whether this is true, but I have heard as an explanation for higher energy consumption in the US than in Europe that energy use in transportation is higher because of lower population density and longer average distances). Again the net effect is unclear, although my guess would be that indeed in the short run resource consumption would go up. It is perhaps that I am not that concerned about it anyway (as with more population).

              Taking the two parts together, I’d expect resource consumption to go up in the short run with open borders, with an indeterminate net effect over the longer haul. Under certain circumstances, this might mean that someone whose main concern is resource consumption would have to advocate open borders.

              Again, kudos for the good arguments. Looking forward to your reply.

              1. I don’t take Frosty’s argument to be very important myself, I was just repairing it to give it a fair hearing.

                “there seems to be a pattern where immigrants at first tend to have larger families than they would have had at home (some wealth effect), and only with the next generation things start to converge to native levels, but then quite rapidly”

                This seems to be true on average and in the long run, but varies with the migrants and destination. And on fertility behavior in the sending country.

                “but I have heard as an explanation for higher energy consumption in the US than in Europe that energy use in transportation is higher because of lower population density and longer average distances)”

                This is true, but Europe also has much higher taxes on gasoline, a policy mix designed to reduce energy use and shift to more expensive renewables, and lower disposable income in the hands of consumers. Energy use also changes with climate and the need for heating and cooling.

                1. “I don’t take Frosty’s argument to be very important myself, I was just repairing it to give it a fair hearing.”

                  That’s a great attitude.

                  Is there some study that compares such fertility changes across countries and/or times? What I am looking for are some upper bounds and extreme cases.

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