TED Conversations

Alex Tabarrok

George Mason University


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Can immigration increase innovation? If so, how?

The US economy is currently stagnating. To what extent could immigration improve (or not) the economy in the short run and what about increasing innovation in the long run? I offer some arguments in my TED e-book, Launching the Innovation Renaissance. I am interested, however, in what TEDsters have to say and in particular on their experiences as both employers, immigrants and competitors!

Jan. 30, 2012, 2:00pm EST/ 11:00am PST


Closing Statement from Alex Tabarrok

Lots of good ideas came up. What struck me most was the importance of maintaining flexible institutions such as a free and open economy and schooling open to all so that immigrants are able to rise and spread throughout society and do not become confined to particular places or professions.

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  • Jan 30 2012: Preaching to the choir in my case, and probably in the case of much of the TED audience.

    Have you ever found that one particular way of framing the issue makes more converts?
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      Jan 30 2012: The case is easy to make for high-skill immigrants but more difficult to make for low-skill immigrants but here is something that I say in Launching the Innovation Renaissance (my TED book) that I must admit I am quite proud of:

      "Low-skill immigration can even increase innovation because it helps highly skilled workers to better use their time and skills. A low-skilled worker who mows a physicist's lawn is indirectly helping to unlock the mysteries of the universe."

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