If people in a country have realistic options in terms of countries they can migrate to, this puts pressure on their political leaders to maintain a better political and economic climate:
- If nothing else, at least the specific people who do manage to escape bad political and economic systems can benefit.
- Human rights abuses, particularly the persecution of unpopular minorities, can be better kept in check.
- Even if there are restrictions on freedom of speech within a country, emigrants from the country can speak more openly about various issues.
- When people “vote with their feet” to specific other countries, political leaders get a signal to consider learning from these other countries. For more on the idea of voting with one’s feet, read about Tiebout mechanisms of political competition.
The effect is similar to the way that enhanced capital mobility in recent years has forced countries to reform their financial, regulatory, and tax systems and helped people diversify their assets to safeguard themselves against rampant money printing by their national governments.
Some related material on this website:
- Emigration: escaping communism, and the role that emigration played in ending tyrannical communist regimes across the world.
Other writings related to exit and competitive government in the context of freedom of travel and migration
- Foot Voting, Federalism, and Political Freedom by Ilya Somin.
- Immigration and Political Freedom (appears as part of this Forum Report, Pages 38-43) by Ilya Somin.
- Freedom to Travel — Let’s maximize Liberty argues that reducing barriers to travel between Eastern and Western Europe will help build popular support for the protection of civil liberties in Eat European countries.