Because of recent rapid growth in the number of immigrants, their high concentration in a few states, and a lagging economy that has slowed the growth in public revenues, two questions have received considerable analytical and political attention in recent years: (1) do immigrants contribute more to public revenues than they receive in benefits from public services? and (2) do state and local governments pay a disproportionate share of the cost of services used by immigrants? This report reviews the estimates of the net fiscal costs of immigration made by several recent and well publicized studies of immigration at the national, state, and local levels. The authors find that these studies do not provide a reliable estimate of the net fiscal costs of immigration. Moreover, new data and agreement on a uniform accounting framework will be needed to reach a definitive answer to the policy questions about the costs of immigration.
This study was funded by The Ford Foundation and the James Irvine Foundation.
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