Immigration has been a hotly debated and politically charged topic. At the heart of this debate is the widespread belief by the general public and policymakers that immigration has large effects on the labour market in general and employment and wages in particular.

A new study by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis contradicts this assertion.

The research looks at wages and immigration figures for the years 2000, 2005 and 2010 to assess whether a change in immigration affect unemployment rates and payrolls.

The study shows that the relationship between unemployment and immigration is weak to non-existent, even during this crisis period.

In some US states, an increase in the rate of unemployment is matched by a decrease in the proportion of foreign-born among the total population.

The research also finds no links between an increase in the proportion of immigrant workers and a reduction in hourly wages.

Changes in the level of wages are very similar across states even though changes in the proportion of foreign-born people vary a lot.

Immigration boosts productivity

While most studies assess the effect of immigrants on the labour market as a whole, a newly published research by the Centre d’Etudes Prospectives et d’Information Internationales (CEPII) looks at the issue from a different perspective.

The study analyses the impact of immigration on the productivity of French firms.

Between 1995 and 2005 France experienced a significant increase in the foreign-born population (from about 6% of the population in 1995 to 12% in 2005), consisting mainly of highly educated immigrants from other EU countries.

The researchers find that the employment of foreign-born workers has a positive effect on productivity.

Regions with a large increase in immigrant supply usually experience higher productivity growth, especially amongst firms that were initially less productive.

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