The Economic Gains from Emigration…

…are frickin’ huuuuge!

The gains from eliminating migration barriers dwarf—by an order of a magnitude or two—the gains from eliminating other types of barriers. For the elimination of trade policy barriers and capital flow barriers, the estimated gains amount to less than a few percent of world GDP. For labor mobility barriers, the estimated gains are often in the range of 50–150 percent of world GDP.

In fact, existing estimates suggest that even small reductions in the barriers to labor mobility bring enormous gains. In the studies of Table 1, the gains from complete elimination of migration barriers are only realized with epic movements of people—at least half the population of poor countries would need to move to rich countries. But migration need not be that large in order to bring vast gains. A conservative reading of the evidence in Table 2, which provides an overview of efficency gains from partial elimination of barriers to labor mobility, suggests that the emigration of less than 5 percent of the population of poor regions would bring global gains exceeding the gains from total elimination of all policy barriers to merchandise trade and all barriers to capital flows.

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About J@m3z Aitch

J@m3z Aitch is a two-bit college professor who'd rather be canoeing.
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5 Responses to The Economic Gains from Emigration…

  1. Dr X says:

    But those gains are not nearly as satisfying as the experience of indulging prejudices.

  2. James Hanley says:

    Well, yes. Subjective value and all that. Plato was clearly wrong about commensurability.

  3. AMW says:

    I always thought the following would be a nice caption for a De-motivational Poster:

    “PROTECTIONISM: Sure, we get inferior goods at inflated prices, but at least we’re not engaging in commerce with brown people.”

    After reading this post I guess I should change “protectionism” to “border walls.”

  4. Lance says:

    I just came home from visiting with some Ethiopian immigrants (family friends). When I mentioned that I thought that all international borders should be opened, or at least only screened for criminals, I was surprised that these fairly recent African immigrants were shocked at the idea that we might let just anybody into the US.

    They all were sure that although they and their friends and family coming here was good for our country that letting just anybody in would ruin everything.

    Aye Yi Yi! This despite the fact that most of them had come here under false pretenses (fake marriages, false asylum claims, etc.)

    It seems that even recent immigrants want protectionist policies (except for their family and friends of course) once they are here.

    I’m afraid the fear of the “other” taking your slice of the pie is nearly universal.

  5. Matty says:

    Lance, my understanding is that throughout history the popular view has always been that the last lot of immigrants enriched the community and integrated well but the next lot are sure to be lazy, job stealling (yes both together) and probably criminal.

    Also has anyone looked at the social benefits of the free flow of labour? War between France and Germany is almost unthinkable today and I suspect the free movement of people between them has contributed to that.

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