Most reviewers have panned the Heritage Foundation’s new immigration study. (See Keith Hennessey, for example.) Yet, Bryan Caplan notes that Robert Rector (co-author of the study) has done some excellent work demonstrating that there are not very many poor people who are deserving of our charity. For example:
The vast majority of America’s “poor” are rich by world and historic standards. 82% of poor American adults say they were never hungry during the last year because they couldn’t afford food; 96% of poor American parents say their children never went hungry because they couldn’t afford food. Half of poor Americans live in a single-family home, and 41% own their own home. Poor Americans have 60% more living space than the average European. 82% of poor Americans have air conditioning. 64% have cable or satellite T.V. 40% own a dishwasher. 34% have a T.V. that would have made billionaires drool in 1990. Materially speaking, poor Americans are doing just fine.
Furthermore, they could easily be not poor: “Most poor American adults could have avoided their situation with prudent behavior ― especially by delaying childbearing until they marry.”
[O]ver 60 percent of fathers who have children outside of marriage earned enough at the time of their child’s birth to support their potential family with an income above the poverty level even if the mother did not work at all. If the unmarried father and mother married and the mother worked part-time, the typical family would have an income above 150 percent of poverty, or roughly $35,000 per year.
But then Caplan cites Rector for lack of moral consistency. Most poor immigrants are “deserving.” Their poverty is no fault of their own.