The most subversive sentence I’ve ever written

In a paper on the “selection” of Mexican immigrants where we find that Mexican immigrants to the US are about the same as non-migrant Mexicans in terms of observable skills like education and age but, as it turns out, they have lower unobserved skills:

It may be the case that because many border crossings occur without documentation, there may be selection on certain unobserved characteristics (e.g. risk-taking, underestimating dangers, low respect for authority) that may have a negative correlation with productivity.

Man, I feel like running down the street with a black bandanna covering my face, breaking windows and burning cars!

3 thoughts on “The most subversive sentence I’ve ever written”

  1. Either that or those characteristics are positively correlated with productivity. Those type of people get stuff done.

  2. “risk-taking, underestimating dangers, low respect for authority”

    Sounds like the description of every successful entrepreneur (Jobs, Zuck, Ev Williams, Gates). Its those characteristics that drive them to displace the status quo/establishment. Of course, those characteristics could as easily describe a criminal. So not sure that they imply lower or higher skills.

  3. Yeah, I meant to reply to Gabriel on that point. I agree those skills are important for some sectors of the economy, but they’re not important and they can be counter-productive in other sectors. My guess is that the jobs illegal immigrants take place less value on these skills.

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