A 21st Century Immigration Policy for the West
October 11 - October 13
The LeFrak Forum and Symposium on Science, Reason, & Modern Democracy
Department of Political Science Michigan State University
In partnership with
The Reason Foundation
21st Century Immigration Policy for the West
The great waves of economic migration that we have known over the last 75 years have come not from the most impoverished nations but from those in a state of “demographic transition.” These countries have modernized enough to greatly lower their infant mortality rates but not yet enough to depress fertility rates. The result has been a population explosion that has driven masses of their people to seek opportunities elsewhere. Over time, however, this imbalance naturally corrects itself as families adjust to the lower rates of infant mortality and stop producing as many children. Virtually every part of the world, with the exception of sub-Saharan Africa, is now close to completing this transition, including especially the major immigrant donor countries to America such as China, India and Mexico. Moreover, as their economies continue to grow and create jobs for their now stabilizing populations, there is every reason to believe that the supply of foreign workers from them will greatly diminish.
At the same time, back in the West, fertility rates have dropped to the point where they are barely at replacement level in the US and substantially below it in most of Europe. If these aging and shrinking western societies are to have any hope of maintaining their economic and cultural vitality, they will likely need to grow their populations through immigration – at a time when the supply of immigrants will be rapidly diminishing.
The proposed hypothesis, then, is that in the coming decades the great “problem of immigration” as we have known it over the last three-quarters of a century will likely undergo a reversal: the problem will no longer be too many immigrants knocking on our doors but too few. We will be hotly debating not how to control immigration, but how to court and facilitate it. The outcome of the debate may depend on whether there is a defensible normative case for relatively unfettered mobility rights. It will also require that we examine and resolve the cultural, political and institutional concerns that we currently have about immigration: will large numbers of immigrants be able to rapidly assimilate, will they uphold our commitments to liberal democracy, will their presence strain or strengthen the welfare system?
For a detailed list of participants and conference schedule, http://lefrakforum.msu.edu/events/2017/Lecture%20Series%20and%20Conference.php