Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Like father (country), like son

The CIS recently released a detailed study on welfare usage by immigrant households in the US using Census data. That immigrants are more likely to use welfare programs than natives are hardly constitutes a novel discovery, though it's rarely acknowledged in Congressional and popular media debates on the subject. This could easily be remedied by the institution of a selective immigration system with the well-being of current US citizens rather than of aspiring migrants in mind, but that's not the purpose of the post.

What grabbed my attention is just how predictable welfare usage by country of origin is. Table 4 of the CIS report shows welfare usage rates of immigrant households with children by householder's country of origin. Near the bottom of the list are affluent, functional nations like Great Britain and South Korea. Topping the list are places you don't want to be (for more than a week or two, anyway) like Mexico and the Dominican Republic.

Picking up on an old habit, I looked at mean national IQ of the 20 sending countries listed and welfare usage rates of immigrants from those countries who were residing in the US in 2009. The correlation is an inverse .57 (p = .01). That relationship is tempered by Indian immigrants, who constitute a conspicuous exception to the general rule (only those from Great Britain use fewer welfare programs than they do). Removing India from the regression ups the correlation to .64 (p = .00). The Indian demographic landscape is an incredibly complicated one, but it's clear that Indians living in the US are not representative of the country they were born in.


Joseph said...

Whether or not Great Britain constitutes a "functional" country is debatable.

Anonymous said...

Colombia's relatively low numbers (by Hispanic standards) is interesting, given its problems. It's a much more unstable society than neighboring Ecuador (look at their numbers).

Anonymous said...

Ecuador also comes off as much worse than Peru. I suspect the differences have to do with the social classes from each country that tend to emigrate to the United States. As with India, the Colombian and Peruvian immigrants probably aren't from among the lower classes.


Audacious Epigone said...

Anecdotal, but my Chilean uncle (who lives in the US) is a pilot. His father is a doctor in Chile. My Peruvian aunt is a teacher in the US, and her father is also a doctor in Peru. They both look Spanish. My guess is that immigrants from Central America are less likely to be from the middle and upper middle classes in their sending countries.

terrence said...

at anon,

colombia was a very stable country (and is still very literate) until economic collapse only a matter of years ago. i'd anticipate that many of their immigrants are well educated.

Campion said...

It's disappointing that Canadian welfare use, while low, is as high as it is. I wonder if some number of these "Canadians" are actually of Jamaican origin or something. I've never met a white middle class Canadian taking welfare (and there are plenty of these folks in LA e.g.)