We Wanted Workers

In early fall 2016, Norton will be publishing my latest book: We Wanted Workers: Unraveling the Immigration Narrative.

I am really excited about it. It is by far the most readable thing I have written, and the most fun too. Three main themes run through the book:

  1. The “economistic” view of immigrants as a collection of robotic workers, who move from one place to another to fill slots in an assembly line, can lead us astray when we evaluate the impact of immigration. As Max Frisch quipped, “We wanted workers, but we got people instead.”
  2. The impact of immigration on the receiving country depends on the conditions that motivated the exodus, and on the conditions immigrants encounter when they arrive in their new homes. Some of those conditions make immigration more beneficial, but others make it more costly.
  3. It is crucial to examine exactly how it is that we come to learn certain things about immigration. Much depends on the assumptions made, on the way data are manipulated, and on the results that are hidden away in the attic of inconvenient truths.

And all this is presented in the context of many personal and professional anecdotes that describe the evolution of my thinking on immigration.

Can’t wait till it comes out!

Author: George Borjas

I am a Professor of Economics and Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.