Earlier this week, David Frum addressed the role of immigration policy in the deskilling of the American workforce. I’ve written on immigration and the OECD Survey on Adult Skills in the past, but Frum offers a much richer comparative picture. He makes the following observations, among others:
(a) While only 6 percent of working-age native-born Americans do not have a high school diploma, the share of working-age immigrants without a high school diploma is over 25 percent. And though immigrants represent 16 percent of the U.S. workforce, they represent 44 percent of workers without a high school diploma.
(c) Like the U.S., Sweden welcomes a non-trivial number of less-skilled immigrants, yet it also provides them with generous social services, unlike the United States, in an effort to “mitigate the deskilling effects of unskilled immigration.
(d) The children of less-skilled immigrants do not fare notably well, for a number of reasons. (We’ve discussed the phenomenon of “segmented assimilation” in this space.) Frum observes that progress from one generation to the next is slow in the best case and non-existent in the worst, and that the low rate of intergenerational upward mobility stems in part from the rising prevalence of the single-parent family pattern among the children and grandchildren of less-skilled immigrants.