All Ethical Roads Lead to Open Borders

That’s a one-line summary of Joseph Carens’ article “Aliens and Citizens: The Case for Open Borders,” first published in 1987. More exactly, Carens shows how three broad ethical theories– I prefer the term meta-ethics, but it’s an idiosyncratic term– namely, (1) Nozick’s, (2) Rawls’, and (3) utilitarianism, all imply a case for fully open borders or at least much more open immigration than rich countries permit today. That’s what I’ve always thought. At some point, I’d like to look through the 515 citations to see whether any counter-arguments have any strength. Carens’ job seems rather too easy, but it’s good that someone’s done it, and in a charming and easy to read style. Carens discusses, however, a “communitarian challenge” to the case for open borders, as argued by Michael Walzer. Continue reading All Ethical Roads Lead to Open Borders

Open Borders with Migration Taxes are the Optimal Policy

I just posted my article, “Open Borders with Migration Taxes are the Optimal Policy,” at SSRN. The abstract:

For some reason, economists are less willing to advocate open migration than free trade, even though the traditional free trade models, such as Ricardian comparative advantage and Heckscher-Ohlin, cross-apply to migration. In fact, however, the case for open migration is stronger than the case for free trade, because it is possible to tax foreign-born beneficiaries of open migration policies, through migration taxes. It is here proven that a policy of open borders with migration taxes is Pareto-superior to the alternative of closed borders (or discretionary migration control). Political norms of local inequality aversion seem to prevent the adoption, or even consideration, of such a policy, and the enormous gains in human welfare that would result from it. Some proposals, including a World Migration Organization and passport-free charter cities, are proposed as steps towards a world of open migration.

Continue reading Open Borders with Migration Taxes are the Optimal Policy

Dani Rodrik Argues for More Migration

Dani Rodrik is probably the most prominent critic of globalization among academic economists. He thinks the global trade regime and global norms favoring financial liberalization have unduly constrained the policy space available to national governments. But while he’s for re-regulating trade and finance, he wants to liberalize flows of people. He writes in The Globalization Paradox: Continue reading Dani Rodrik Argues for More Migration

Accusations of racism in the immigration debate

One of the tactics that many people on the pro-immigration side of the immigration debate adopt is to point out the unsavory “racist” and “eugenicist” associations that some immigration restrictionists have, or might have. I’m going to argue here that focusing on these associations, whether or not they are true, does not do much to advance the case for open borders, and detracts from the substantive debates. Continue reading Accusations of racism in the immigration debate

"The Efficient, Egalitarian, Libertarian, Utilitarian Way to Double World GDP" — Bryan Caplan