In sum, it is likely that increased immigration either will have little or no effect on welfare spending, or might actually reduce it. Obviously, the impact on welfare spending isn’t the only relevant issue in immigration policy. But it is an important point often raised by right of center opponents of immigration liberalization. It is fair to add that some left of center supporters of increased immigration might find Gochenour and Nowrasteh’s results disappointing, and potentially decide to change their position on immigration reform as a result. But, as far as I can tell, conservative opponents of immigration cite the potential for increased welfare spending as a justification for their position far more often than liberal supporters cite it as a possible rationale for their own.
The possibility of increased welfare spending is part of a broader class of “political externality” criticisms of immigration: claims that immigrants will change government policy for the worse. In this post, I explained why such arguments – even if valid on their own terms – are rarely sufficient to justify immigration restrictions.