NAFTA increased home ownership?!?

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This is Reason‘s Dave Weigel using data and scholarship to refute labor protectionism:

“I don’t know many people who are ardent free traders and who want a wall built,” Kolbe says. “If you’re talking about the movement of goods, how can you not talk about movement of labor? How can you not talk about the movement of people? It’s absolutely absurd.”

It’s especially absurd when you look at the actual data. According to a 2005 study by the University of Bologna’s Gianmarco Ottaviano and the University of California at Davis’ Giovanni Peri, the surge of illegal laborers between 1990 and 2000 raised native-born wages overall but lowered the wages of Americans without high school diplomas by about 1 percent. These workers account for only 8 percent of the labor market, and their numbers are shrinking. In 2006 and 2007, tighter border controls managed to drive down the number of illegal workers picking crops in the Southwest. Americans didn’t flood the fields to do those jobs; the jobs went unfilled.

And this is Weigel, in the same article, defending NAFTA:

When you consider what NAFTA actually wrought—and you don’t count Bernie Sanders’ angina—this is all a bit mysterious. Americans are wealthier than they were 14 years ago and, with unemployment under 5 percent, are more likely to have jobs. (In the decade before NAFTA, unemployment averaged more than 7 percent.) More Americans own their own homes. Fewer Americans are going to bed hungry—dramatically so, if you scan the data on obesity.

I’m not as disappointed as Emmanuel by the piece, but that’s a really bad defense of NAFTA.

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