Once More, With Feminists and Immigrants

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Ponnuru wants more evidence that open labor markets jibe with traditionally feminist goals. I am happy to oblige. Harvard's Michael Kremer has an excellent study on the issue, pithily described here:

Immigrant workers serving as nannies, caretakers and housecleaners may be helping to improve conditions for native workers. A new paper, co-authored by a Harvard professor and a recent PhD graduate, concludes that the growing trend of immigrant household laborers is having the effect of raising salaries for native low-skilled workers, and reducing wage inequalities between workers overall.

Kremer and Watt argue that as more immigrant women serve in household positions, more high-skilled native women are therefore available to join the labor market, driving down relative wages among high-skilled workers and reducing the disparity in wages between low- and high-skilled workers…

There may be other social benefits as well. "By allowing women to work more flexible hours, foreign private household workers may also reduce gender disparities among high-skilled natives and help eliminate the glass ceiling," the authors write.

That whole paper is here. And the linkage between labor markets, child care, and women in the workforce is hardly new. There is a reason that pressure for government-subsidized universal daycare has been largely muted in the United States. In a 1970 study on labor markets and social policy, GW's Kimberly Morgan argues:

Countries differ in the extent to which they subsidize early childhood care and education programs, reflecting, in part, the nature of the child care workforce. In liberal market economies such as the United States, a low-skill, low-wage workforce has enabled a private market of child care to develop, letting federal and state governments off the hook from having to subsidize these programs.

In the more coordinated market economies of Western Europe, by contrast, higher labor market regulations, wages, and rates of unionization raise the cost of labor and impede the growth of a private child care market. As a result, governments aiming to promote women's employment or assure the education of young children will feel pressed to provide extensive public subsidies for these services.

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  1. “open labor markets jive”

    jibe

  2. Thanks, Brec.

  3. it’s just your jive talkin’
    you’re telling me lies, yeah
    jive talkin’
    you wear a disguise
    jive talkin’
    so misunderstood, yeah
    jive talkin’
    you’re really no good

  4. Oh, stewardess! I speak jive.

  5. Immigrant workers serving as nannies, caretakers and housecleaners may be helping to improve conditions for native workers.

    Hondurans are the new fallen women.

  6. Kerry, it’s worth noting a couple of points. First, the artificially cheap labor provided by domestics may be a benefit to middle class and above women but doesn’t help poorer women who can’t afford such help in the first place and whose wages are depressed by the influx of often illegal foreign workers. I use the term artificially cheap beacause of course they are not provided with health insurance and if they end up in the emergency ward guess who pays? If they have kids enrolled in school while receiving pay under the table, well we’re stuck with that tab as well.

    Next, consider children themselves. I know, libertarians are generally loathe to do this, but it’s worth noting that child poverty rates are far lower in Europe than they are in the US despite the miraculous power of “free” labor markets. Workers in the EU often enjoy higher incomes, longer vacations, greater employment security, and higher social mobility than their American counterparts. I know facts like these are so annoyingly inconvenient for idealogues, but they are certainly relevant if you wish to judge competing systems with their outcomes.

  7. By letting immigrant women work, we improve immigrant women’s lives. Is giving immigrant women financial independence not feminist enough for you?

  8. Apparently one of the “jobs that Americans won’t do” is to raise their children.

  9. Good point, jb. We need to factor in the quality of life, and degree of autonomy and equality, that a woman enjoys in the US relative to her home country. Not all countries are the same in that regard, but the US is better than many, and certainly better than most (all?) from which women come seeking low-wage work. And then there are also the educational and career opportunities that an immigrant’s daughters will enjoy here (not to mention greater independence).

    If the question is “Is immigration good from a feminist perspective?” then I think the answer is that most women in poor countries would rather live here and see their daughters enjoy the opportunities of the US.

  10. I find it ironic that an ideology which is in practice, dominated by totalitarians the way feminism is gets such sympathy from many libertarians. Libertarian ideology already contains the few positive things that feminism once espoused, such as full legal rights for women.

  11. Let’s just ignore revealed preference, I mean, that’s like a totally reasonable thing to do, right? Damn, they want to live here instead of where they lived before: that’s good enough, isn’t it? Isn’t it a good thing for people to move places they think they’ll like better, even if their situation in those places isn’t as good as the situation other residents have?

  12. MikeT,

    I just define feminism in libertarian terms. The rest is just Marxist claptrap and hysterical* over-reaction and touchiness. There are strains of feminism that define themselves as attitude in search of outrage (feministing.com for example.) I just ignore them… their priggish totalitarianism has always existed, it just largely comes under the label “feminism” right now. In a few decades it’ll be something else.

    Of course, I have a penis, so what do I know…

    *I use that with full intentional historical irony…

  13. Kremer and Watt argue that as more immigrant women serve in household positions, more high-skilled native women are therefore available to join the labor market, driving down relative wages among high-skilled workers and reducing the disparity in wages between low- and high-skilled workers…

    Let me get this straight. The argument that immigration of low skilled labor drives down the wages of high skill Americans is considered a good thing, because it means that computer programmers will earn more like Honduran nannies?

    The real “income gap”in America has nothing to do with skills in any case. The people in the top 1% of earners are either not effected or actually gain from immigration. The people who take the hit are the American middle class.

  14. People who imagine that our politicians favor large scale immigration due to their deep commitment to radical libertarianism might want to read the following.

    Among several congressmen and other political operatives I encountered, a certain admiration for the long-ruling Mexican political class was discerned. Sometimes they would confuse us with members of the then long-ruling party (the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI) and would talk at length about how they were “given the royal treatment” in the ranches and yachts and other perks of the Mexican political class. “Your leaders sure know how to live it up,” exclaimed one congressman approvingly. Others would marvel at how the ruling party could govern for so long despite their abuse and without voter reaction. “If I did one-tenth of what they got away with, I’d be dead meat at election time,” mentioned another one.

    At the same time, several congressmen mentioned how happy they were with their Hispanic constituents. The more usual compliments included: “They are grateful for whatever you give them;” “they never give me problems, I love going to their barrio;” “they are loyal;” “they are a gentle people;” and “they make ideal constituents.” Referring to the mostly white population of his district, one congressman apologized for his “redneck” constituents who “don’t understand” the importance of increased immigration. Another congressman spoke of the consequences immigration would eventually have for his competing party, in that it would “disappear, once and for all.”

    Or this.

    While I can recall many accolades for the Mexican immigrants and for Mexican-Americans (one white congressman even gave me a “high five” when recalling that Californian Hispanics were headed for majority status), I remember few instances when a legislator spoke well of his or her white constituents. One even called them “rednecks,” and apologized to us on their behalf for their incorrect attitude on immigration. Most of them seemed to advocate changing the ethnic composition of the United States as an end in itself. Jefferson and Madison would have perhaps understood why this is so-enthusiasm for mass immigration seems to be correlated with examples of undermining the “just and constitutional laws” they devised.

    When thinking of populating as a way of obtaining power, perhaps these U.S. legislators, rather than from the statesman Sarmiento, took an unconscious cue from another Latin American leader who used migration and ethnic policy for less laudable goals. Mexican President Luis Echeverr?a (1970-76), who began the cycle of political violence and economic crisis from which the country has yet to recover, pursued a policy of moving hundreds of thousands of impoverished people from the country’s south to the more prosperous and dynamic northern states, where they remain to this day, mostly in shantytowns. His goal was to neutralize those states’ more active civic culture that threatened his power-as these states were at the time the main source of opposition to his dictatorial ambitions. These pauperized and dependent migrants and their offspring would provide a ready source of votes for the ruling party along with a mobilizeable mass to counter (politically as well as physically) the more civic-oriented middle classes of those northern states and “crack” their will to challenge his corporatist regime. Along with other extra-constitutional tools (he almost succeeded in canceling the constitution to remain indefinitely as president), migration from undeveloped areas was used by Echeverr?a as “politics by other means.”

    Fredo Arias-King was an aide to Vicente Fox. In 14 trips to Washington and to both party conventions, he spoke extensively to U.S. public figures, including 80 members of Congress, about the bilateral relationship.

  15. Kerry–Ponnuru is eating your lunch on this…not wise to mix it up with him.

  16. I wonder if the prevailing sexist, borderline misogynist views of a large number of immigrant men from south of the border counts as a “feminist issue.” One would think that flooding our country with many men with such attitudes would be a step backward for American women, but I guess having cheap latina labor offsets that.

    Funny how Kerry doesn’t talk about how the latino on black hate crime rate in LA is by some estimates starting to reach the level of ethnic/racial cleansing of entire parts of the city. What can you expect when you leave the border open for every Tom, Dick and Harry who come get past the border patrol? You get a lot of hard workers; you also get a lot of the trash from Mexico and other places as well because you don’t screen out the undesirables who would be parasites on a free society.

  17. I think you would find that a liberal immigration policy would be acceptable under the following conditions, many of which are not acceptable to open borders advocates:

    1) No welfare benefits for immigrants.
    2) No immigrants with any serious crimes on their record.
    3) All immigrants must seek gainful employment.
    4) You cannot become an American citizen unless you are fluent in English.
    5) The border patrol is beefed up enough that the borders can be controlled and all would-be immigrants must go through the proper channels.

    What most Americans who are anti-illegal immigration want is to control the flow of immigrants, to keep the quality of immigrants up and to know who is coming here.

  18. MikeT,
    I know this will come as a big surprise to you but by and large libertarians:
    1)Don’t believe in a welfare state for anybody, not just immigrants.
    2)Believe in just punishment for crimes that infringe on the rights of others.
    3)Believe everybody should be gainfully employed, or at the least not on the taxpayer dole.
    4)Don’t believe that citizenship should be a requirement for immigration.
    5)Want to make screening for immigrants as easy and accurate as possible to weed out “bad guys” like violent criminals and terrorists.

    In short, if the person wishing to cross the border is willing to work and is not a rights infringing criminal then by all means they should be allowed to. What anti-immigration folks like to do is spend money on fences instead of background checks thereby making the process of catching the “Bad Guys” so much harder.

  19. I’m sure many are familiar with really simple PhysicsProblems, such as determining the forces involved when an object travels through an arc at a certain speed.

    Then, when you get out into the real world, there are dozens, hundreds, or thousands of other variables involved: WindSpeed, TheTires, the driver not applying constant gas and brakes, bumps in the road, weather, and those are just the easy ones.

    Then, (after you grow up), you realize things are complicated!

    So, while Howley’s BS sounds good in theory, it breaks down in the real world when you start totaling up all the other impacts of ThoseImmigrants.

    So, for instance, let’s say we import lots of DomesticHelp. And, they have children. And, the MexicanGovernment spreads ItsPropaganda to them (as they’re currently doing in PublicSchools). And, they form a VotingBloc. And, they vote for things that the old employers of the DomesticHelp don’t want.

    Doh.

    Kerry Howley: please start looking at all the variables involved here. As it is, you’re just a hack.

  20. they vote for things that the old employers of the DomesticHelp don’t want.

    Old employers? who has hired them at this point? Are they entrepeneurs now? If so they have a bit of an investment here don’t they? Are we talking about the same generation? Are these people citizens now? If we are talking about their children, just how much has this oh so powerful Mexican propaganda affected them seeing as how they grew up here in America? Have you really thought about this? Have you actually seen these immigrants you talk about or are you holed up in some Idaho bunker with a thousand cans of spam?

    It sure is complicated. So when will you be doing this growing up stuff you talked about?

  21. Since Lonewacko is leading us into fantasy land, how about this…

    Let’s say we import lots of domestic help — or, really, any help that the market needs to the extent that it needs it at the time that it needs it. And they have children. And they — not being specially dubbed permanent residents — don’t get any welfare or public services beyond education for their children and emergency medical care. And as those children mature they grow to recognize — unlike so many born to longtime residents — that one can live largely independently of government provision of services. And those children whose families are still in the country — as opposed to those who returned to their home countries — form a voting bloc. And they vote against all those government powers and services that they never had, never saw the need to have, and find far more expensive than they’re worth.

    Woohoo!

  22. “mk” is, of course, an idiot. As the reader no doubt knows, “growing up in America” and “being an American” are not necessarily the same thing. Far-left ideologies – and a press that enables same – increase the gap. And, the MexicanGovernment distributes propaganda inside the U.S. to U.S. PublicSchools and PublicLibraries, aided and abetted by UsefulIdiots and TheCorrupt.

    As for MikeP’s fantasy, it’s just that. It is one possible outcome, but it’s extremely unlikely.

    What I suggest Kerry Howley does is imagine *everything* involved in importing hundreds of thousands of DomesticHelpers, and try to figure out just as hard as she can all the things that could happen. Then, she can assign some sort of probability scoring to each outcome, and then we can decide what we want to do.

    As it is, she’s just a hack, a saleswoman who refuses to answer objections.

  23. Lonewacko, is something wrong with your SpaceBar? You know, the long rectangular thing at the bottom of your keyboard that puts spaces in between words? When you don’t use it, I can’t resist reading your posts out loud, and I crack myself up because I sound like a total loon.

    Mexican President Luis Echeverr?a (1970-76), who began the cycle of political violence and economic crisis from which the country has yet to recover
    Yeah, that’s when the political violence in Mexico started. Uh huh.

    Oh, and for those here who think the male immigrants are chauvinists, I am here to tell you that chicas rule the Hispanic roost. In other words, the culture (generally) is matriarchal.

    MikeT, sluggy parasites aren’t the ones who are coming here. They’re back home, living with their mom, waiting for the money wired back from the US so they can go buy beer. The people who come here are the people with volition.

  24. Being called an idiot by Lonewacko is a badge of honor.

    If anyone ever wondered who it is that decides who gets to be called an American and who doesn’t, well, there he is. He’s the guy.

  25. kwix

    if the person wishing to cross the border is willing to work and is not a rights infringing criminal then by all means they should be allowed to.

    That is a statement, not an argument. So all I’ll say is response is, no, they should not be allowed to.

    What anti-immigration folks like to do is spend money on fences instead of background checks

    Why should we conduct background checks on people we don’t want here to begin with?

  26. Kerry,

    I must agree with Mcgcruiser. You don’t take on Ponnuru unless you’re absolutely certain you have your facts crystally-clear in your head.

    He’s been one of my favorite writes for years. May I recommend his book, “The Party of Death?” to you?

    I love reason.com, but no one, and I mean no one, can hold a candle to Ramesh Ponnuru, in my opinion.

  27. Why should we conduct background checks on people we don’t want here to begin with?

    Who, exactly, is this “we” of which you speak?

    You don’t want Mexican immigrants for what ever reason. It is fairly obvious – based on the number of people who hire them – that many others do.

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