Productivity and Affinity in The Age of Dignity
The Age of Dignity: Preparing for the Elder Boom in a Changing America, 2015
18 Pages Posted: 6 May 2016
Date Written: May 5, 2016
Americans are living longer than ever before. Meanwhile, labor studies project a shortage of caregivers in future labor markets. This forces an urgent question: Who will take care of us once we are too old to take care of ourselves? Ai-jen Poo, a nationally recognized activist takes up this question in The Age of Dignity: Preparing for the Elder Boom in a Changing America. Recognizing that a sizable portion of the caregiving workforce is foreign-born and unauthorized, one answer that Poo offers is expanding employment-based visas to manage future migration flows. While embracing Poo’s larger vision of reform, this Review does two things. First, it shows that immigration admission rules are governed by what I call the productivity/affinity binary in which rules reflect a preference for either workers or family members. In this sense, Poo’s vision for reform privileges caregivers for their economic productivity. This leads to this Review’s second goal: to show that gaps in the caregiving labor market might also be filled by expanding family-based migration opportunities. Relying on family-based migration to fill labor gaps both makes intuitive sense given the kind of affinity bonds that often transpire between family members and caregivers and creates a pool of workers that is flexible and responsive to the shifting needs of the caregiving industry.
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