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April 11, 2006

US-Mexico Income Gradient Corporations, Globalization

Here's why an enforcement approach will never stop illegal immigration from Mexico, the source of 70% of all illegal immigration into the US (WaPo):

"The income gap between the United States and Mexico is the largest between any two contiguous countries in the world," writes Stanford historian David Kennedy. That huge disparity is producing massive demand in the United States and massive supply from Mexico and Central America. Whenever governments try to come between these two forces — think of drugs — simply increasing enforcement does not work. [Emphasis added]

Nature abhors a gradient. (See also this).

Posted by Jonathan at April 11, 2006 01:33 PM  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb


I find that income gap statistic hard to believe. It must be on the median income, not the mean. And is it an absolute dollar amount, or on a percentage basis? But still--is it really a bigger gap than Finland/Russia? Singapore/Malaysia? South Korea/North Korea? Israel/Egypt (or Israel/Palestine, if we count that)? Kuwait/Iraq?

Also, I'm sure that a living wage in Mexico is well below what it is here. Just about everything costs less in Mexico, and there's less need for a car, heat and air conditioning in much of Mexico. A lot of people make very little there, but they can live on it.

Posted by: Bob at April 11, 2006 07:56 PM

I did a little research. I'm guessing that Kennedy's income statistics come from here, which lists US per capita income as $37,500. Who knew we were that rich? Anyway, that is a mean income, not a median. The comments on that page suggest many reasons why poorer countries like Mexico are not quite as poor as the numbers indicate--much of the work is never monetized. Families raise their own children, fix their own cars, and barter goods and services. This adds to the real wealth of the country, but not the measured wealth. He also clearly used absolute dollar differences, not ratios, in making his claim. The US/Mexico ratio 37,500/8950=4.2 is less than the Israel Egypt ratio: 19200/3940=4.9. And North Korea didn't make the table.

From what I've seen, Mexicans in general are richer than Americans in many ways. Families are closer, people spend more time talking and less time driving. And if it weren't for the US continually meddling in Mexican affairs, from the 1846 war through NAFTA and beyond, Mexico might in fact be richer. (Pretty interesting how we stole California just before gold was discovered there, huh?)

Posted by: Bob at April 13, 2006 07:54 PM

I tried to link to the page with the income stats, but it didn't work. Here's the link: http://www.success-and-culture.net/articles/percapitaincome.shtml

Posted by: Bob at April 13, 2006 08:29 PM