A world without borders makes economic sense

by , under All categories, Enrique

Comment: Here is a good question: Why do we restrict immigration? Who does the present system benefit? These are some of the questions that Michael A Clemens looks at in the story below.

He writes:  “Large numbers of people wish to move permanently to another country – more than 40% of adults in the poorest quarter of nations. But most of them are either ineligible for any form of legal movement or face waiting lists of a decade or more. Those giant walls are a human creation, but cause more than just human harm: they hobble the global economy, costing the world roughly half its potential economic product.”

And continues: “Many people fear that even a minor increase in international migration will wreck their own economies and societies. Those fears deserve a hearing. They are old fears, of the kind that filled US newspapers a century ago. The US population subsequently quadrupled, largely through immigration to already-settled areas. Today, even in crisis, America is the richest country in the world. History, too, deserves a hearing.”

Do you agree?


By Michael A Clemens

What is the biggest single drag on the beleaguered global economy? Opponents of globalisation might point to the current crisis, which shrank the world economy by about 5%. Proponents of globalisation might point to the remaining barriers to international flows of goods and capital, which also serve to shrink the world economy by approximately 5%. That sounds like a lot.

Read whole story.

  1. Mark

    It’s worth adding this quote from the story too, me thinks!

    All the economic and social arguments against immigrant entry to the workforce could be – and were – deployed decades ago against female entry to the workforce. (“But men built those companies! Why should we allow women to work when there are qualified, unemployed men? Why should a man pay taxes for a woman’s unemployment insurance? Will female employees assimilate and act just like men as we all wish? And what harm will be wrought in the homes they abandon?”)

    • Enrique

      Hi Mark, thank you for posting this quote from the story. Good to hear from you!

  2. BoredinFinland

    Thanks for the article…but its source, the research paper, provides more interesting insights on the topic. At least facts based on (quantitative) evidence. The fear of the possible consequences of being “invaded” by aliens (in the comments of the readers) is quite striking. Most of those comments resemble what you see in the DM! (lol)

    Anyway, during the 80s and 90s my country was in a terrible state ……many people (qualified and unqualified) emigrated to USA, Canada and Australia. Most of my colleagues have now a good standard of living in those countries, and are contributing with their knowledge to those societies. What it is interesting is that you should think that my country suffered because of this “drain brain”. In reality, what happened was that all those empty spaces left by us are now occupied by foreigners ( from other parts of the continent and from Europe – Germans, Dutch, East Europeans, British, Americans)…yes, they moved there even the international image of the country was/is really bad! …And you know what? we have now lower unemployment rate than Finland…and we are now one of the CIVETS : next big emerging markets….At the end of the day emigration/immigration benefited not only Canada/Australia/USA but also my country…..

    • Enrique

      Hi BoredinFinland, if greater immigration fuels economic growth, why is it movement of people being slowed? Whose interests does it serve? Certainly the key to an open society with immigrants moving in and out is inclusion.

      Your point on the brain drain in society is interesting. Maybe that is partly a myth. Probably those societies that have a lot of emigration lack opportunities. Emigration exposes their ineffective economic and political system. Countries that can absorb immigrants and incorporate them rapidly are totally the opposite of such societies.

      But let’s go back to the argument of the most anti-immigration groups. They see immigration as taking something away from society when, in fact, it is adding and bringing something into it.

      What do you think?

  3. Martin-Éric

    It could be a good idea to look at things from a perspective other than economic. It could also be a good idea to acknowledge the antidemocratic bankrupt shipwreck that USA has become.

    • Enrique

      Good point Martin-Éric but is it due to immigrants or the lack of effective regulation (or other factors)?

  4. Martin-Éric

    Because USA is no more capitalist than USSR was communist. They are both interventionist states keen on using military means to achive their government’s selfish megalomaniac goals, at the expense of their average citizen’s well-being.

  5. Mark

    While I think the Guardian report makes excellent points, it also overlooks certain things too. A taxi driver may earn more and be more productive doing the same job in New York than in some town in a developing country, but the idea that you can just transfer that taxi driver from one local to another is oversimplified. The problem of many immigrants in Finland is that to do even very simple jobs where they might be thought to have already a good skill set, employers are still looking for excellent Finnish skills. The argument then, that there are always Finns with the same skills AND excellent Finnish means that the potential discrimination has been justified. It’s not enough to look at the skill set and see how much more productive that person is to the overall global economy if they are doing the same job in a different place. We have to look at the costs of movement, of integration and of enabling that person to contribute all of their skills to the foreign economy.

  6. BoredinFinland

    In looking a sustainability issues, the eccocentric position advocates for the dismantle of the existent economic system in order to preserve the environment (and in long term the existence of human beings) . The problem with this solution is that it is politically unsustainable. No politician would advocate for the termination of the actual economic system because by doing so they will commit political suicide. There is no public/corporate support, even if our future existence depends on doing that.

    I see the free movement of human beings in similar vein. For example, look at the comments posted on the guardian website: most of them are negative towards allowing free movement. And it is the Guardian! If there is not support from these kind of readers, what else we can expect from the rest of the population? It is a political issue. Politicians are looking for new forms to sell themselves to the public. They exploit (psychologically) the mass. In the old days they told us they would protect us from communism, after it collapsed, they told us that they would protect us from the Muslim terrorism treat, and now days, as we have seen in Europe, they are telling us they would protect us from those foreigners, through, visa restrictions.

    I think more important than to promote inclusion is to promote the co-existence of individuals under real secular systems. In countries like Finland, I perceive that, the ultimate goal of promoting inclusion of foreigners is their assimilation to Finn culture….. which in turn would mean not to respect other ways of living….

  7. BoredinFinland

    Obviously inmigrants are not the source of the economic crisis in the USA. They underwent a big change during this century from being producers to being a society of consumers while taking big loans from China (mainly) to sustain their imperialism ideology. Have you seen a video-clip posted on the BBC mundo website about the decrement in the rate of unskilled Latin-americans moving to the USA during this year? They have stopped emigrating there because there are no jobs for them…..

  8. Martin-Éric

    Hence why I said that neither capitalism or communism (or the nanny state variant of neo-liberalist socialism, for thta matter) is the solution, since they are all expansionist economic models. Eccocentrism is in fact a very viable political stance, just not for the traditional powerholders, because their whole life is centered around the control of resources and around exponential growth. It is however a much better option for the rank-and-file citizen, whose stress levels would decrease and whose food would be from more organically sound sources.

  9. BoredinFinland

    Martin I would love to see what you are describing in practice. Believe me. I support that.

    However, to implement such a system, it would mean that, we will end in living a chaos….at least to implement it. How can we survive that? Imagine, the world, for a moment, without currencies, the current system of exchanging commodities and so on…and do not forget ….the important question of who will be willing to lost their economic assess…their consumption patterns….etc?

    I tend to think that with the current system of values in place in society…it is non-viable.