Bryan Caplan  

Immigration Policy and the World Values Survey

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Over at Open Borders, Nathan Smith shares his preliminary immigration policy empirics from the World Values Survey.  Out of 48 countries surveyed, the people of Vietnam (?!) favor the fewest restrictions on immigration, and the people of Malaysia favor the most.  The people of the U.S. come in 32rd, with 7% saying "let anyone come," 37% favoring immigration "as long as jobs are available," 49% favoring "strict limits," and 8% advocating "prohibition."

Weirdest result: The most pro-immigration religion, by a wide margin, is ancestor worship.  I wonder if this just reflects a small-N, or if it would hold up in a multiple regression...

Read the whole thing.

COMMENTS (11 to date)
Steve Sailer writes:

A glance at the table shows there's a moderately high correlation between holding theoretical open borders views and being living in the kind of country that doesn't have much experience with immigration because nobody in their right minds wants to go there.

Here's your top ten most pro-Open Borders countries:

Vietnam, Burkina Faso, Rwanda , Ethiopia, Mali, Morocco, Romania, Uruguay, Peru, India.

Yup, those are some real high desirability countries.

Steve Sailer writes:

By the way, I don't see Israel mentioned in this list. Anybody want to estimate the odds that Israel would be the most anti-"let anyone come" country on earth?

Here are most anti-immigration countries:




Trinidad And Tobago


S Korea





South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan are rich, competent, nationalist NE Asian countries. Norway and Australia are rich whitopias. Trinidad is the richest country in its region due to oil. Thailand and Malaysia are among the richest countries in their regions.

Egypt and Jordan are interesting. I suspect their attitudes are similar to Israel's, and for similar reasons.

1) None of those three countries wants the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza. They all remember what happened when Jordan kicked out the Palestinians in 1970 and they moved to Lebanon: that upset Lebanon's delicate balance of power and 15 years of civil war ensued.

2) Egypt, Jordan, and Israel are all on the land route from sub-Saharan Africa to the rich North. They would all be overrun with sub-Saharans. Middle Easterners notice how Col. Qaddafi's policy of inviting in large numbers of sub-Saharans did _not_ improve his popularity with native Libyans.

Josh Wexler writes:

I can think of two plausible reasons why the Vietnamese are so open to immigration:

1) They themselves are highly restricted (by their own government) in their ability to emigrate. This would tend to increase their empathy for those whose mobility is likewise limited by the CPV.

2)For several reasons, they don't share Americans hyperbolic fear of competition for jobs from foreigners. Asymptotically to Steve Sailer's point, they are very poor- foreigners are not going to flood the country to become rice farmers. Their experience of foreigners over recent history is that of wealthy people buying their goods and services- iow, they have a visceral appreciation of the benefits of free trade. They have an impenetrable tonal language that makes it difficult for a foreigner to secure any other job than teaching English (which also allays any would-be Saileresque fears of immigrant cultural domination). The highest status jobs are doled out by The Party, and so are off limits to immigrants and most Vietnamese alike. It is an insanely entrepreneurial country (particularly so in HCMC, but also Hanoi and smaller cities like Dalat and Hoi An)- a radically unfettered market is a way of life for many Vietnamese.

I don't want to overstate the last point, but my recent experience of Vietnam was that it was in several aspects a more libertarian society than America. I really don't wish to pooh-pooh the free speech and rule of law advantages we have in the US- I witnessed a disturbing police crackdown in Hanoi and my friends there tell me that bribery and corruption are commonplace. But I've seen a, lot worse here in New Orleans on those accounts.

Susan writes:

[Comment removed pending confirmation of email address. Email the to request restoring this comment. A valid email address is required to post comments on EconLog and EconTalk.--Econlib Ed.]

Ted Levy writes:

Josh W. notes "[B]ribery and corruption are commonplace" in Vietnam, otherwise described as "a radically unfettered market."

Ironically, bribery and corruption are simple market responses to what would otherwise be intolerable government intervention.

Ted Levy writes:

[Comment removed for policy violation.--Econlib Ed.]

BenSix writes:

The significant difference between Norway and Sweden is interesting. I suppose it's one of the less valid prejudices of Westerners to view Scandinavians as a big mass of chilly people who make good detective programmes.

Steve Sailer writes:

Over time, the Swedes have become ethnocentric about their political correctness. Being true believers in stupid stuff is how they show they are superior to the other Nordics. "We're Swedes, we're not like those horrible racist Danes, who have been so insensitive as to try to crack down on arranged cousin marriages of young girls for the purposes of immigration fraud!"

Bedarz Iliaci writes:

Steve Sailer,
India, in fact, gets a lot of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and the flow has actually caused severe demographic change in border provinces and has led to ongoing violence in the state of Assam.

The illegal immigration problem in India is far worse than it is in America.

Anders Larsen writes:

@Steve Sailer
As a Dane, I can only agree with what you say. Swedish people are much more politcally correct.

However, even that is changing now as you see the Swedish Democrats are doing better and better in the elections, and have recently reported a huge increase in membership.

Nathan Smith writes:

I checked the ancestor worship thing. Turns out the explanation is disappointingly simple: Vietnam, the most pro-open-borders country, is also the only country in the survey where ancestor worship prevails. Ancestor worshippers don't seem disproportionately more supportive of open borders there.

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