Shannon K. O'Neil

Latin America's Moment

O'Neil analyzes developments in Latin America and U.S. relations in the region.

Demography enters the immigration debate

by Shannon K. O'Neil Thursday, April 19, 2007

The importance of demography for U.S. immigration is finally getting its due. Recent Congressional testimony by Dowell Myers highlights the effects of baby boomer retirement on the U.S. labor market, and the importance of legal migration given these shifts. A recent study by Mitra Toosi at the Bureau of Labor Statistics develops projections for the U.S. labor market in more detail. She adds the interesting fact that not only will baby boomers retire, but women’s participation rates in the workforce have stabilized (at near 60%). That means that unlike in the past, there isn’t a large untapped “surplus” of native Americans to meet growing labor demands. Read more »

Immigration number games

by Shannon K. O'Neil Thursday, April 12, 2007

Following up on my op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, I talked with Lou Dobbs last night (see transcript) about the issues of demographic change and immigration in the United States. In my appearance and in earlier shows, Lou lays out various numbers regarding legal immigration – saying that 2 million people come into the country each year. But looking at the reports from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), this 2 million figure is total visas – many of which are for the same person year after year. These are not all new additions to the annual workforce or population. But even if they were, these 880,000 for 2005 (see Table 3 of the DHS report on Temporary Admissions of Nonimmigrants), this is only 0.5% of our current workforce of nearly 150 million people. Read more »

Mexico's Social Security reform

by Shannon K. O'Neil Monday, April 2, 2007

Mexico finally passed a reform of its public sector workers’ social security system, the ISSSTE system. This system covers 3 million people, or roughly 10% of the insured population in Mexico.

Calderon, unlike Fox or even Zedillo before him, was able to cobble together a coalition of support with for the initiative, including many members of the PRI as well as the deputies of the New Alliance party, headed by former PRI heavy weight and powerful leader of the teacher’s union Elba Ester Gordillo. Gordillo was a key figure in the success of this reform as teachers comprise half of ISSSTE’s clientele. Read more »