More Misinformation from the Media:
The Bipartisan Policy Center issued a new white paper Tuesday that details one crucial twist to the ongoing immigration debate.
Authors Kenneth Morgan and Theresa Cardinal Brown write that immigration can help boost the solvency of the Social Security Trust Fund:
“The logic is simple: Immigrants tend to be of working age when they move to the United States. Furthermore, research indicates that foreign-born individuals are more likely to be employed than their native-born counterparts, as native-born individuals tend to have more flexibility to enter retirement, enroll in school, or enter disability. More people working and paying into the Social Security system decreases the old-age dependency ratio, which extends trust-fund solvency.”
The report also notes that undocumented immigrants may help trust fund solvency, too. – How Immigration Can Help Save Social Security, The Fiscal Times, Yuval Rosenberg, 8/22/17.
Fact Check: The claim that immigration can save Social Security rests on the idea that present and future legal immigration can significantly lower the average age of the U.S. population. But that, as a recent paper by the Center for Immigration Studies notes, depends on whether the birth rates of immigration are significantly higher than those of natives.
The birth rate of immigrants is presently higher, but the gap between the two has narrowed substantially during the past decade. In 2008, the paper observes, “immigrant women had a TFR [Total Fertility Rate] of 2.75 children; by 2015 it had fallen to 2.16 — a .6-child decline. For natives it declined from 2.07 to 1.75 — a .33-child decline.”
The paper further notes that “If present trends continue, the TFR of immigrants may drop below 2.1 in the next few years, the level necessary to replace the existing population. An immigrant TFR of less than 2.1 would mean that, in the long run, immigration would add to the aging of American society.”
With respect to illegal immigration, a claim commonly made is that illegal immigrants are assisting Social Security through their taxes because they, unlike legal immigrants, will never draw Social Security benefits. That, however, is not necessarily the case. It now appears that as many as 800,000 illegal aliens in the DACA category will eventually receive amnesty and access to Social Security. Aside from amnesty, there are other means for them to attain legal status.
As for contributing to Social Security, as many as half of Illegal aliens don’t contribute because they work off the books and therefore pay no federal taxes. And those who pay federal taxes often use the Earned Income Tax Credit to receive tax refunds. Illegal aliens commonly work at low-income jobs, which means that the total of all taxes they pay (including Social Security taxes) are much less than the total of all public benefits they receive.
Social Security faces serious problems with a declining base of support. But mass immigration is not the answer. Fiscal concerns aside, the stress it places on our national culture and unity is an enormous contribution to social insecurity.