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Bryan Caplan is a libertarian economics professor at George Mason University. He is a passionate advocate of open borders on both libertarian and humanitarian grounds. He has addressed the issue from a wide variety of angles through blog posts and other media. His personal webpage is here. Caplan blogs at EconLog with co-bloggers Arnold Kling (Kling stopped blogging in August 2012) and David Henderson.
Short video (2:51) on immigration policy overview:
Video: Immigration restrictions: a solution in search of a problem (click link for more video-related information)
Intelligence Squared jobs debate featuring Caplan and Vivek Wadhwa against Ron Unz and Kathleen Newland, with “Let Anyone Take a Job Anywhere” as the title of the motion.
- Why Should We Restrict Immigration? (PDF, 20 pages) in the Cato Journal, Volume 32 Number 1, Winter 2012. This has an outline very similar to Caplan’s video on immigration restrictions. If the link fails, use the mirrored copy on the author’s website.
- A Radical Case for Open Borders (PDF, 41 pages), co-authored with Vipul Naik. This is part of a forthcoming book on migration edited by Benjamin Powell. You can read an archived draft by Vipul Naik.
- Bryan Caplan’s EconTalk podcast with Russ Roberts on immigration: EconTalk page here, downloadable MP3 here. The EconTalk page features a full transcript and related links.
Blog posts that sum up Caplan’s position on open borders
The following blog posts give a bird’s eye view of Caplan’s case for open borders.
- My Path to Open Borders, a guest post for Open Borders where Caplan outlines his own intellectual evolution towards open borders.
- Open Borders in 4 Easy Steps, a quick summary of Caplan’s case for open borders, intended for the two-minute opening speech of a debate about immigration at the International Students For Liberty Conference 2013.
- Immigration Restrictions: A Solution in Search of a Problem, guest blog post for The Economist, which was later expanded into a talk (video above).
- Sitting on an Ocean of Talent, an explanation of why the magnitude of potential gains from open borders should make even people skeptical of it ponder how to overcome the obstacles and realize the gains.
- Immigration: My Eyes Work Fine, a list of 16 points describing what he sees regarding the effects of immigration, how people perceive it, and how they argue.
- America Should Open Its Borders: My Opening Statement for the Reason Immigration Debate, April 23, 2014 (more on the debate here).
- Meant for Each Other: Open Borders and Western Civilization by Bryan Caplan, EconLog, May 7, 2014, for the open borders and Western civilization debate.
Blog posts that go into specific arguments related to open borders
- Patria, Parenti, Amici (excerpted at nation as family)
- What We Owe Immigrants (excerpted at John and Julio): A hypothetical used by Caplan to address the killing versus letting die objection.
- The Stranger (excerpted at obligations to strangers): Caplan argues that charity to strangers is optional, but we should stop actively harming them.
- Treating Immigrants like Strangers (writing for the Hoover Institution): Caplan reiterates his points on not actively harming strangers.
- Tell Me the Difference Between Jim Crow and Immigration Restrictions, excerpted at immigration restrictions as Jim Crow.
- One day at ICE: A Dialogue on the Philosophy of Immigration (excerpted at Haiti ICE): A hypothetical where an American citizen has trouble getting back into the country after humanitarian work in Haiti.
- The Political Externalities of Open Borders: A Digest Version (excerpted at political externalities and also at statist generation): Caplan provides a summary of why the negative political externalities of immigration are likely overstated, and even if not, why they do not provide a clear case against immigration.
- Turning the Camera: The Political Externalities of the Status Quo, referenced at the political externalities page.
- Milton Friedman opposed a Pareto improvement: Caplan considers Milton Friedman’s statement that immigration and the welfare state are incompatible, and notes that Friedman failed to consider keyhole solutions to the problem.
- Bastards, Immigrants, and Misanthropes, comparing the attitude to bastards in Game of Thrones with the attitude to immigrants in modern society.
- Egoism, Libertarianism, Persuasion, and Worthy Arguments, a response to a comment by Brian arguing in favor of a nexus between egoism and libertarianism.
- Immigration and Bubbles, responding to a comment by sourcreamus about how his endorsement of bubbles was in conflict with his advocacy of open borders.
- Immigration Restrictions as Affirmative Action, excerpted at immigration restrictions as affirmative action.
- Opposition to Immigration: Get Your Story Straight, mentioned on the page twofers.
- Borjas: What’s His Problem?, excerpted at the page second-order crime.
- “Bloggers as Illegal Immigrants”: What Does Borjas’ Analogy Really Show?, excerpted at the page Bloggers as Illegal Immigrants.
- Best Ridicule of the Week, where he links to a blog post by Chris Rasch, discussed on the page immigration restrictions and gun control.
- Of Infants and Immigrants, where he links to a blog post by Adam Ozimek, discussed on the page Infants versus Immigrants.
- Traditional Third World Elites: A Qualified Defense (excerpted at local inequality aversion)
- Finally, An Intellectually Serious Case Against Immigration (excerpted at alien invasion metaphor)
- Open Borders and The Walking Dead (excerpted at alien invasion metaphor)
- Libertarians and the Welfare State: Is It Time to Drop the Hard Line? (excerpted at bleeding-heart libertarian and contraction of welfare state), where he counters bleeding-heart libertarians by arguing that support for the welfare state is an obstacle to freer immigration, and libertarians concerned about the poor should therefore oppose the welfare state.
- “Callous Libertarians”: Missing, or Just Unfairly Maligned? (excerpted at bleeding-heart libertarian)
- More Liberaltarian than Thou and The Conscience of a Libertarian, (excerpted at bleeding-heart libertarian), by the non-bleeding-heart libertarian Bryan Caplan arguing that liberaltarians (a slight variant of bleeding-heart libertarians) should value open borders higher than the welfare state.
- Reply to David on Immigration (referenced at swamped).
- Would a World Plebiscite Lead To Open Borders? (May 18, 2012) (referenced at citizen preference for reduced immigration)
- Vipul Naik and the Priority of Open Borders, September 21, 2012, referenced at the external coverage page.
- Illegal Immigration and Political Culture, Interview with Trent McBride, Including the Political Consequences of Immigration, The Case Against Libertarian Hispanophobia, and The Social and Political Realities of Immigration: A Reply to Hoste, all referenced at political externalities.
- Immigration, Skill, Efficiency, and Quotas: A Conflict of Economic Intuitions (referenced at the high versus low skill page): Caplan argues that if the total number of immigrants is kept constant, then it makes sense to admit highly skilled immigrants, because skilled immigrants have the maximum numerical gain from immigration. On the other hand, low skilled immigrants have larger proportional gains from immigration, so if total human capital is held constant, it makes more sense to admit low-skilled immigrants.
- Open Borders: The Website, March 16, 2012, referenced at the external coverage page.
- “Low-Immigration, Pro-Immigrant” versus the Law of Return.
A list of all blog posts by Caplan on immigration and related topics can be viewed here. This may not include some posts on the philosophy and morality of immigration.
Bryan Caplan plans to write a book with a tentative title Poverty: Who to Blame?. The book will label immigration restrictions as one of the three reasons why poverty still persists today. He outlined his plans in a blog post.