A common criticism of immigration reform (here, here, and here) is that it will decrease economic freedom in the United States, by increasing the voting pool for the Democratic Party. Leaving aside the issue of which party supports economic liberty, if any, it’s important to see what the actual impacts of immigration are on economic freedom in the United States and the world. The political effects of immigrants after they arrive are less certain than the economic benefits. Do immigrants decrease economic freedom in their new countries? The bottom line: fears of immigrants decreasing economic freedom seem unfounded.
Since 1980, wealthy countries have seen rises in immigrant populations. Immigrants are drawn to economic prosperity, higher wages, and better standards of living so it’s not surprising that wealthier countries have higher percentages of immigrants. I excluded numerous small countries and petro-states like the UAE and Kuwait from the analysis.
I looked at the 25 wealthiest nations in the world in 1980 (by per capita GDP PPP) and considered their economic freedom rating and the percent foreign born. I then tracked those same countries every 5 years until 2010. Here are the averages for all 25 nations: