Public opinion supports the view that immigrants take natives’ jobs and reduce their wages, but most economists disagree. Although basic laws of supply and demand suggest that immigration could reduce wages by increasing the supply of workers, in reality the actual impact of immigration is likely to be small, especially in the long run.
The Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA) and Europe appear to be an ideal demographic match: the former has a large supply of young, active workers, and the latter has a shortage of the youthful, skilled or unskilled labor it needs to sustain its economic competitiveness. MENA is the source of 20 million first-generation migrants, half of them now living in another MENA country and most of the rest in Europe. The region also hosts around the same number within its borders. In addition, the size of MENA’s working-age population will continue to rise sharply in the next two decades while the corresponding segment of the population in Europe will soon start to decline.
During the 1990s, NAFTA was promoted by both U.S. and Mexican officials as a means to spur economic growth and job creation in Mexico and thereby reduce the number of unauthorized migrants entering the U.S. from Mexico each year. This report takes a critical look at NAFTA’s impact on regulating migration from Mexico to the United States.