Coming to America - The Culture Transplant

Article subtitle: 
Review: ‘The Culture Transplant’ by Garett Jones
Article author: 
‘The Culture Transplant’ by Garett Jones
Article publisher: 
Washington Free Beacon
Article date: 
12 December 2022
Article category: 
Our American Future
Medium
Article Body: 

Review of ‘The Culture Transplant’ by Garett Jones.

... Jones shows, through an engaging and digestible tour of the academic literature, that people bring their national character with them when they migrate; that those values persist for up to several generations; and that some values really are better for societal flourishing than others, so the values immigrants bring matters a great deal....

The point here is that, for whatever reason, certain fundamental facts about a civilization—i.e., its level of development—are both highly relevant to its performance on the centuries timespan and transplantable from one place to another...

What are the concrete implications of this view? Jones offers two. One is that the countries with the highest rates of innovation—China, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States—should be extremely cautious about changing the population composition through migration. These countries produce the overwhelming majority of the world’s progress, and if progress is a function of your country’s composition, then we should care a lot about keeping their current mix, because otherwise all of humanity loses out....

George Borjas, the Harvard economist who is probably the nation’s leading academic proponent of immigration restrictionism, entitled his 2016 book on immigration economics We Wanted Workers [see review], itself an allusion to a line from the Swiss playwright Max Frisch: "we wanted workers, but we got people instead." Borjas’s point is, in part, that much of contemporary immigration policy is structured around considering the labor market implications of additional arrivals, without considering them as whole persons...

Those people, moreover, carry with them notions—about fairness, justice, trust, good and bad governance—that, Jones shows, are durable. They shape the culture that they come to....

Related

The Culture Transplant Shatters the Case for Mass Immigration - The Jones thesis of cultural transplant devastates the starry-eyed “come one, come all” immigration advocacy popular among progressives and libertarians, by Jason Richwine, 4 December 2022:

A new book called The Culture Transplant makes this case much better than I can. The author is Garett Jones, a George Mason University economist who has spent much of his career pondering why some nations are more successful than others. He reviews the literature showing that the variance among immigrant groups in certain values—such as trust, frugality, and personal responsibility—persist through multiple generations of their descendants...

Cultural persistence matters, Jones says, because culture undergirds wealth-creating institutions. So when people move to a new land, their previous institutions tend to follow them....

The Jones thesis of cultural transplant devastates the starry-eyed “come one, come all” immigration advocacy popular among progressives and libertarians. It shows that the importation of cultures that are not historically conducive to prosperity is a serious weakness of our current immigration policy....

 

The Empirical Evidence for Immigration Restriction, Jason Richwine, November 2022:

 

We Wanted Workers - Instead We Got People, by Fred Elbel, The Social Contract, Spring 2017. Review of We Wanted Workers.