Amid repeated calls to curb U.S. immigration, a new study shows that immigrants are an essential component of the nation's entrepreneurial culture.
The study, which gauged the effect of aging on entrepreneurial behavior, showed that countries with older populations -- including many European countries -- are more likely than others to see a decline in entrepreneurial activity, according to Babson College researchers.
"Immigrants tend to be younger and have more children to help build new businesses," said Maria Minniti, a Babson College professor who co-wrote the study and directs research at the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, an international research group that gauges entrepreneurial activity in 39 countries worldwide.
Older workers are more invested in their current jobs in terms of experience and seniority, and less inclined to take on the risks of starting a new business -- while younger workers feel they have fewer responsibilities holding them back, the study found.
As such, by embracing new immigrants, the U.S. has helped foster a strong entrepreneurial class, Minniti said.
"Obviously, our research can impact and contribute to the recent U.S. debate on immigration," she said.
In making his case for immigration reform, President Bush has called the U.S. a land of immigrants.
Two weeks ago, the president visited a Dunkin' Donuts outlet in Alexandria, Va., owned by two Iranian-American brothers, where he restated his call for a temporary worker program offset by tighter border security.
He also pressed Congress to "come up with a rational way forward" for immigration reform.
On July 5, the House and Senate began holding separate public hearings on recent immigration reform bills.
While the House is seeking to deport illegal workers, the Senate's approach would balance enforcement with a path to legal status.