Summary of “The Worker Next Door”

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In The Worker Next Door,” Barry R. Chiswick argues that reducing the number of low-skilled foreign workers would benefit American society. Chiswick lists the negative impact that immigrants have on American society and questions whether jobs such as picking lettuce or bagging groceries would go unfulfilled without them. He argues that even in low immigration areas everything works well and that immigrants concentrate in a few metropolitan areas. Chiswick points out that low-skilled foreign workers disadvantage low-skilled American families and cause income inequality. He gives economic assumptions to support the idea that reducing the number of immigrants is a long-term benefit to American society. Chiswick believes that Americans are ingenious and flexible and can adapt to life without low-skilled foreign workers.”

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A Summary of “The Worker Next Door”

Barry R. Chiswick, the head of the economics department at the University of Illinois at Chicago, holds a Ph.D. in economics from Columbia University. In his essay, “The Worker Next Door,” published in the New York Times in June 2006, Chiswick addresses the topic of immigrants and low-skilled foreign workers and argues that it’s better to reduce the numbers of low-skilled foreign workers to bring more benefits back to American people and society. Chiswick lists many problems that immigrants cause to American society, and he also provides several questionable reasons why if the flow of illegal immigrants were deterred, jobs would still be filled, and life would go one as usual, even better. In his first paragraph, he raises many questions such as, “If low-skilled foreign workers were not here, would lettuce not be picked, groceries not bagged, hotel sheets not changed, and lawns not mowed? Would restaurants use disposable plates and utensils?” Those opponents’ argument strongly supported Chiswick’s points in the next paragraphs, and he knocks them down to show the American society that we can live without the low-skilled foreign workers, even better.

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Later on, he points out that in the “big six” immigration cities, immigrants are concentrated in a few metropolitan areas. Even in low immigration areas, everything gets done and works well. Those facts supported Chiswick’s points about the minimal impact of immigrant labors. In the next paragraph, Chiswick points out the disadvantage which the immigrants bring to the low-skilled American families and how they cause the income inequality to this country. He gives many economic assumptions to let the readers believe that to reduce the numbers of immigrants is a long-term benefit to the American society. American people can get more job opportunities when there are fewer immigrants. What’s more, people can get higher wage to increase their purchasing power, which is good for the economic system. All those benefits can be reached if there has less low-skilled foreign workers. What’s more, Chiswick mentions the last point that American people can always find a way to handle their lives without low-skilled foreign workers.

Homeowners can reduce the frequency of glass cutting; hotels and motels could reduce the frequency of changing sheets and towels; we can import goods from other countries instead of importing people to reduce American comparative advantage. Lastly, Chiswick highly speaks that the American people and the American economy are ingenuity and flexibility. Throughout the nation’s history, as Chiswick says, ”The finding of alternative ways of doing things has been a prime engine of economic growth and change.” He faithfully believes that America can deal with all those things without low-skilled foreign workers, and it’s better for this country to go further to have fewer immigrants.

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