Penn Wharton Budget Model’s Dynamic Population Modeling Highlights Economic and Defense Benefits
Washington, DC – January 29, 2024 – The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) reviewed the recently released Penn Wharton Budget Model (PWBM) and support the findings that current estimates do not fully capture the budgetary impact of proposed changes in immigration policy, and updates to this methodology would reveal valuable scientific, societal, and economic growth benefits.
“Enhancing STEM-trained immigration access, as shown through dynamic modeling, not only addresses the deficit in scientific talent but also boosts tax revenues and strengthens our global competitiveness,” said Dan Correa, CEO of FAS.
He continued, “FAS strongly believes that we need more pathways for talented scientists to enter our country, stay here, and enable America to build on its legacy of scientific leadership. The Manhattan Project, for instance, included immigrants, some of whom were the most influential scientists of their day. America knows how to be a global leader, and that’s by being the place that attracts and retains the brightest minds.”
Incorporating projected changes in population into budget estimation offers a more precise assessment of the budgetary implications resulting from changes in immigration policy. The study suggests transitioning from conventional budget estimation to a population-change approach, revealing a significant shift from a $4 billion increase in the federal budget deficit to a $129 billion decrease from 2025 to 2034.
Despite workforce development being among the most critical areas of national defense and economic development–especially when it comes to scientific skills, knowledge, and expertise–roadblocks exist to bring and retain foreign-born talent. This deficit leaves the U.S. struggling to retain an edge in the global talent market.
“Right now, nearly 60% of people earning advanced degrees in STEM fields are foreign born. The U.S. is already at a disadvantage because so many highly educated people who are educated here do not have a path forward to stay here after graduation. This, at a time when the United States has an urgent need for scientists working in artificial intelligence and national security to effectively compete against People’s Republic of China and other authoritarian regimes who are using these technologies against our national interests,” said Divyansh Kaushik, Associate Director of Emerging Technologies and National Security at FAS.
“A dynamic modeling of population data shows the many economic benefits that follow when the U.S. smoothes the immigration path as one lever to reduce our national deficit of STEM graduates. This is an educational deficit we cannot quickly close without improvements to our immigration policies” said Sara Schapiro, Director of Education and Workforce at FAS, who closely follows education efforts by the federal government that affect the workforce.
PWBM reports that although the CBO has applied dynamic population-modeling approach to four legislative proposals H.R. 2131 (CBO 2014), S. 744 (CBO 2013a), Senate Amendment 1150 to S. 1348 (CBO 2007a, CBO 2007b), and S. 2611 (CBO 2006a, CBO 2006b)—but has not been applied to any proposals since 2014.
The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) works to advance progress on a broad suite of contemporary issues where science, technology, and innovation policy can deliver dramatic progress, and seeks to ensure that scientific and technical expertise have a seat at the policymaking table. Established in 1945 by scientists in response to the atomic bomb, FAS continues to work on behalf of a safer, more equitable, and more peaceful world. More information at fas.org.
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