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Immigrants, Taxes, and Welfare in the United States

Abstract It has long been recognized that societies may benefit from the immigration of unattached young persons in the prime of life. Nevertheless, immigrants--typically young men and women who arrive without aged dependents and with a relatively small number of children already born--are not generally greeted with open arms in the United States and elsewhere. An investigation of the balance of transfers between immigrants and natives in the United States shows that, from the time of entry until about 12 years later, immigrants use substantially less in the way of public services; subsequently, use by immigrants becomes roughly equal to that by natives. On the contribution side after about three to five years immigrant families pay as much in taxes as do native families; thereafter they pay substantially more. The net balance of these two forces is positive in every year with respect to natives' income.

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