Attention, Mickey Kaus! Andrew Malcolm of Investors Business Daily (h/t Glenn Reynolds’s Instapundit) highlights Gallup polls that show that the same percentage, 11%, of Americans and Mexicans in 2012 said they were willing to move to another country. In 2007 about twice as many Mexicans, 21%, indicated a willingness to emigrate; the percentage of Americans willing to do so has been either 10% or 11% in every year from 2009 to 2012.
Mexicans’ diminished willingness to emigrate—and for almost all of them the only realistic destination is the United States—reflects economic conditions. Unemployment is 6% and falling in Mexico; it’s 7.9% and falling sluggishly if at all here. More to the point, the unemployment rate among Hispanics in the United States is 9.7%. My view is that people immigrate not just to make more money—though that is a factor—but also to pursue dreams or escape nightmares. I estimate that about one-third of foreclosures in the 2007-10 period involved Hispanic homebuyers, people pursuing a dream. That dream was shattered. And not just for these people; many others, in this country and in Mexico, heard about what was happening. So for Mexicans today, as compared to the period before the housing collapse of 2007, the United States looks less like a dream and Mexico looks less like a nightmare. That’s why I don’t expect to see ever again a wave vast of migration from Mexico on the scale of that between 1982 and 2007, even when (or if) the U.S. economy starts growing robustly again. Mickey Kaus seems to assume that another such wave is inevitable. I guess we’ll see who’s right.