16 Costs and Revenues

A study of New York's immigrants would be incomplete without an exploration of their fiscal impact on the city. Fiscal impact is a complex phenomenon that defies precise measurement. It is difficult to identify or establish measures for all the ways in which immigrants represent a cost in city services or a contribution in city revenues, and it is even more difficult to obtain hard data on costs and contributions.

City Planning analysts selected several significant measures that generally are chosen by economists who analyze fiscal impact. On the cost side City Planning looked at the three predominant social service areas: education, health care, and public assistance. On the revenue side they looked at city income tax and city sales tax.

No attempt was made to "balance" these costs and revenues, since there can be no true balance at the city level. Immigrants, like most other U.S. residents, pay most of their taxes to the federal government, but their social service costs are borne, in New York State, largely by the state and local governments. In this analysis of New York City, immigrants' costs and contributions were evaluated separately. Their share of the city's total tax revenues and social service costs was measured against their share of the city's households, which was 28 percent. On the whole, immigrants appeared to make slightly less than proportionate use of social services, and to contribute slightly less than their proportionate share of city sales and income taxes.

The slightly below-average tax contribution was largely a function of immigrants' lower-than-average incomes and of New York's progressive income tax structure. Although their tax share was not strictly proportionate, it was their "fair share" under the tax laws.

-207-

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Immigration in New York
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Tables vii
  • List of Figures ix
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Part I - The Background 1
  • 1 - Introduction 3
  • 2 - Social and Legislative History 11
  • Part II - Today's Demographics 31
  • 3 - Recent Statistics on New York City Immigration 33
  • 4 - Undocumented Aliens and the Census Undercount 50
  • 5 - Five-City Comparison 58
  • 6 - Ethnic Geography 68
  • 7 - Employment Patterns among Today's Immigrants 82
  • Part III - The Service Delivery System 99
  • 8 - Social Services: Welfare and Beyond 101
  • 9 - Refugee Resettlement 119
  • 10 - Cuban/Haitian Entrants: a History 134
  • 11 - The Catholic Church and Its Services to Immigrants 140
  • 12 - The Role of Public Education 153
  • 13 - Issues in Health Care 168
  • 14 - Immigrants and the Criminal Justice System 180
  • 15 - The Immigration and Naturalization Service 190
  • Part IV - For the Record 205
  • 16 - Costs and Revenues 207
  • 17 - Ethnic Media 218
  • 18 - Inventory of Academic Studies 231
  • 19 - Conclusions and Recommendations 243
  • 20 - Epilogue: a Paean to the Lady 250
  • Glossary 251
  • Acronyms 257
  • Bibliography 259
  • Index 263
  • About the Author 269
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