Opportunity costs: the fiscal cost of (not) educating immigrant minors in the US

Noli Brazil, University of California, Berkeley
Alma Vega, University of California, Berkeley
Iván Mejía-Guevara, University of California, Berkeley

One of the greatest fiscal costs of immigration is spending on educating immigrant youth. While numerous studies have noted the exorbitant cost of providing foreign-born minors with K-12 schooling, far fewer studies have examined the proportion of all U.S. spending on education that goes toward educating these youth and the social costs/benefits of doing so. Using National Transfer Accounts (NTA) methodology, this study examines the fiscal cost of educating immigrant minors in the U.S. relative to all spending on education. It also generates a counterfactual scenario in which spending is not allocated toward educating immigrant minors, allowing us to observe the effects on economic productivity due to a lesser educated workforce. This study provides a detailed profile of the number of immigrants that receive a portion of their schooling in the U.S., and the share of the cost shouldered by the U.S. and Mexico. This study contributes to the discourse on fiscal spending on immigrants by contextualizing the fiscal cost of education within the larger U.S. budget on education.

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Presented in Session 83: International migrants in the United States

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