Arnold Kling  

For Open Borders

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Sebastian Mallaby writes,


In Let Their People Come, a new book published by the Center for Global Development, Lant Pritchett reports that if rich countries permitted extra immigration equivalent to 3 percent of their labor force, the citizens of poor countries would gain about $300 billion a year. That's three times more than the direct gains from abolishing all remaining trade barriers, four times more than the foreign aid given by governments and 100 times more than the value of debt relief.

Traditional economics says that trade in goods and services would be sufficient to lift the standard of living in developing countries (although not necessarily to top levels). It says that capital mobility ought to be sufficient to lift wages in developing countries to top levels.

But books like William Lewis' The Power of Productivity show why trade and capital mobility are not sufficient. Workers can be more productive in the United States because of our institutional base, most notably competitive markets. Our management know-how tends to stay within our borders, because other countries have too many institutional barriers, including regulation and corruption.



TRACKBACKS (2 to date)
TrackBack URL: http://econlog.econlib.org/mt/mt-tb.cgi/563
The author at Pienso... in a related article titled Smarter international aid (i.e.: more migration) writes:
    Sebastian Mallaby sounds off and wants smarter international aid. Read as: more immigration. If rich countries permitted extra immigration equivalent to 3 percent of their labor force, the citizens of poor countries would gain about $300 billion a year... [Tracked on September 18, 2006 11:18 AM]
The author at Mike Linksvayer in a related article titled Gains from open borders writes:
    Long overdue reply to a comment (nearly identical comment, even older) left here by Ronnie Horesh: I see totally free trade in goods and services as a higher priority than unrestricted immigration. The west needs willing immigrants, not those compelled... [Tracked on September 18, 2006 1:30 PM]
COMMENTS (9 to date)
AJ writes:

We need more Frederich Hayek and less Jeffrey Sachs.

CS writes:

Since America's (relatively) high economic freedom is dependent on the attitudes of its electorate, utilitarians have a powerful reasons to resist the addition of new citizens opposed to its institutions.

Certainly in the case of the Mexican immigrants at issue with respect to the current amnesty/legalization plan, the evidence indicates a much greater average hostility to markets than native-born citizens. http://www.vdare.com/sailer/060917_silicon_valley.htm

If the ability to beneficially absorb immigrants is limited by the damage done to productivity-enhancing institutions, then immigrants should be selected to get maximum 'bang-per-buck.' Immigrants with high human capital will experience greater incremental productivity gains from American institutions, and be more likely to support continued economic freedom. So why not encourage unskilled illegal immigrants to leave via employer sanctions and a border wall, while allowing H1-B's and other skilled worker types to become permanent residents and citizens?

Alternatively, one could adopt a 'guest worker' model, where foreign unskilled labor could benefit from American institutions without voting rights, but that seems politically unsustainable and rather unsavory.

Matt writes:

Yes, Arnold gets it. It is cheaper, right now, to move the squirrels than move the acorn technology.

Then what are the goals of the economic organism, the problem CS hints at?

Well, we are governed by evolution, and evolution likes to expand biological work. As long as evolution can produce more acorns in North America than Central America, evolution will send us more squirrels. When central America has a large reserve of acorn producing resources, relative to North America, then we will invade Central America, using military means if necessary.

Dezakin writes:

"Alternatively, one could adopt a 'guest worker' model, where foreign unskilled labor could benefit from American institutions without voting rights, but that seems politically unsustainable and rather unsavory. "

Thats sort of how it works today. Immigrants dont vote unless they're rich enough to buy citizinship, and then tend to vote for markets anyways; But the concept that americans are somehow fundamentally pro-market seems flawed to me. American institutions are slightly pro-market, but of americans themselves, they'll vote for whatever the wind tells them is in style.

Mexicans fundamentally changing the structure of the democracy into mexico is yet another canard by xenophobes used to justify jingo.

Lord writes:

Clearly the solution is to start drafting natives and export them to developing markets to remake the situation there. I'll volunteer Arnold.

I'm going to outsource my comment to this guy. http://snarkybastards.com/index.php/2006/09/18/who-needs-democracy-when-youve-got-development/

For what Mallaby isn't telling you (or doesn't know) about remittances, see my (TruthAboutRemittances) comment here:

prospect.org/weblog/2006/09/post_1426.html

For an example of the thinking of those who support "reform" in general, click my link.

Steve Sailer writes:

You'll notice that countries that get a lot of remittances from abroad per capita, such as Mexico and the Philippines, are much slower to reform themselves than countries that don't, such as China and India.

Remittances subsidize the survival of corrupt, inefficient domestic systems.

John S Bolton writes:

The rights of the net taxpayers of the richer countries, not to have aggression increased on them, get all too conveniently left out of account.
Globalizing the level of political virtue is not known to be a morally decent suggestion.
Nor is it known to be morally or economically sound to consider the aggrandizement of the recipients of remittances to poor, failed countries; regardless of the affect on the rights of the good people of the rich countries.

Martin Kelly writes:

Who gives a rat's backside about the GDP of Guatemala? Really?

Come on!

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