As far as being the land of opportunity, America isn’t looking good. Politicians dither on the status of millions of undocumented immigrants, and each week another billionaire reminds us that America is turning away the high-skilled immigrants most countries would fight for. Germany seems so much more enlightened, with its open borders and Blue Card program; in just the last few years it’s become the second-most popular migration destination.
America is still No. 1. Immigrating to a new country requires facing many different risks and, for most, the United States still offers the best shot at success, at least as defined by employment prospects. I used data from the OECD’s Migration Database to measure employment, for different education levels, in countries containing the most immigrants. One caveat: a low employment rate might also capture a generous welfare state that doesn’t require immigrants to work. But since a job tends to be necessary for economic and social mobility, employment rates are a good proxy. The table below shows employment rates for immigrants with less than a high school education.