Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 317–359 | Cite as

Should the US have locked heaven’s door?

Reassessing the benefits of postwar immigration
  • Xavier Chojnicki
  • Frédéric Docquier
  • Lionel Ragot
Original Paper


This paper examines the economic impact of the second great immigration wave (1945–2000) on the US economy. Our analysis relies on a computable general equilibrium model combining the major interactions between immigrants and natives (labor market impact, fiscal impact, capital deepening, endogenous education, endogenous inequality). Contrary to recent studies, we show that immigration induced important net gains and small redistributive effects among natives. According to our simulations, the postwar US immigration is beneficial for all natives cohorts and all skill groups. Nevertheless, the gains would have been larger if the US had conducted a more selective immigration policy.


Immigration Welfare Computable general equilibrium 

JEL Classification

J61 I3 D58 



We are grateful to Alan Auerbach, Tim Miller, and Philip Oreopoulos for transmitting their dataset. The second author acknowledges financial support from the ARC convention on “Geographical mobility of factors” (convention ARC 09/14-019) and from the Marie-Curie research and training network “Transnationality of Migrants” (TOM). We thank two anonymous referees for their helpful comments and suggestions on an earlier version of this paper. The usual disclaimers apply.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xavier Chojnicki
    • 1
    • 2
  • Frédéric Docquier
    • 3
    • 4
  • Lionel Ragot
    • 5
    • 6
  1. 1.EQUIPPEUniversity of Lille 2LilleFrance
  2. 2.CEPIIParisFrance
  3. 3.FNRS, National Fund for Scientific ResearchBrusselsBelgium
  4. 4.IRESCatholic University of LouvainLouvain-La-NeuveBelgium
  5. 5.EQUIPPE, Faculté des Sciences Économiques et SocialesUniversity of Lille 1Villeneuve d’Ascq CedexFrance
  6. 6.CESUniversity of Paris 1ParisFrance

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