FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Monday, August 15, 2005

How Fewer Mexican Immigrants Could Affect Mexico and the US

That Latinos are a growing force within US culture, as described in this article from TIME, is hardly a secret. What may be a surprise to many, though, is an associated statistic: because of dramatically falling birthrates, immigration from Mexico may fall by as much as half by 2020.

Based on the assumption that Mexicans will be enticed to stay at home by more plentiful jobs, a lower rate of immigration will have important implications for both the US and Mexico. For Mexico, a lower population may lead to higher wages and greater overall prosperity. For the US, the existing Latino population will be further assimilated into -- and influence -- mainstream US culture (perhaps shifting the culture even further to the right, since Latinos exhibit largely conservative values). Also, the loss of cheap labor from undocumented Mexican workers could lead to a return to wage inflation in the US, and American businesses seeking new sources of inexpensive labor. Outsourcing, importing workers from other countries and even robotics could play a role in this labor shift.

UPDATE: Herman Trend Alert reports that, in the near term, the US will have a slight surplus of Hispanic workers (most undocumented), owing to a relatively strong US economy and US employers' eagerness to hire them. The surplus will likely drive down wages (which, according to Herman, are better than many realize, though these workers rarely receive benefits). Herman also offers up this interesting factoid: Money sent back to Mexico from workers in the US is that country's second largest contributor to its gross domestic product (after oil exports) and could become number one.