It is important to stress what the NAFIN estimates here represent. They are estimates of the annual fiscal burdens imposed on native households by current immigrant-headed households in the early 1990s. They are not estimates of the annual costs we could expect in all future years from admitting new immigrant families, and they are not estimates of the annual fiscal costs today of past immigration policies. To estimate the future fiscal costs, or benefits, of immigration, one must allow for today's fiscally costly young immigrants to leave school, take jobs, and contribute taxes; this requires a dynamic fiscal accounting. To estimate the annual cost today of past immigration policies also requires a dynamic analysis, one that looks back in time. Children born to immigrants in the United States who are now living on their own and earning incomes must be included in this historical evaluation. These contributing, second-generation children are here because of past immigration policies; they are not, however, included in the average fiscal balance for immigrant-headed households calculated here, because these children no longer live at home. Again, only a dynamic analysis can accurately account for the contributions of these individuals. Chapter 7 outlines one approach to dynamic fiscal accounting for immigration.

The Net Annual Fiscal Impact of New Immigrants

Although it is perhaps interesting to know the annual fiscal burden of current immigrant-headed households on U.S. native households, more relevant for contemporary policy debates over immigration policy are estimates of the net fiscal burdens of new immigrants on native U.S. households.

Tables 6.6 and 6.7 offer estimates of the net annual fiscal impact of new immigrants on native families living in New Jersey (Table 6.6 ) and California (Table 6.7), under the assumption that new immigrant families are just like the current stock of immigrants now residing in the state. The estimates reported in Tables 6.6 and 6.7 answer this question: What would be the fiscal burden on native residents if the number of immigrant-headed households now in the state were to exactly double?

The net fiscal impact imposed by a doubling of the number of immigrant-headed households is simply equal to the net annual fiscal impact from current immigrant-headed households, now shared by all households in the state or nation (see note 6). Thus, the net fiscal impact of doubling "all immigrants" will be slightly smaller than the burden of previous immigrants because the tax base over which to share the costs of the new immigrants will be larger. Whereas, as we've said, the current stock of immigrant households imposes a NAFIN on native households of about -$229 per household in New Jersey and -$1,174 per household in California, doubling "all immigrants" will impose a net annual fiscal impact on native New Jersey households of $199 per household (Table 6.6) or

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement