CGD Policy Blogs
This morning, Justin Rowlatt of BBC World Service asked me a smart interview question: Sure, there are economic gains to migration, but don’t most of those gains simply go to the migrants?
If you found a trillion-dollar bill on the sidewalk, would you pick it up? Michael Clemens thinks he has found a bunch of such bills—huge gains to the poor people and the world economy that could be achieved by easing restrictions on cross-border labor mobility.
Economists who study globalization pay lots of attention to trade and capital flows. They have spent generations researching how much better off the world could be if there were fewer international obstacles to voluntary, mutually beneficial trade and investment. If there’s a twenty-dollar bill on the sidewalk—economists’ old catch-phrase meaning an opportunity for big gain at small cost—why not pick it up?
When a catastrophic earthquake struck Haiti last year the U.S. government and public moved quickly to aid the survivors. The response was swift and compassionate. But America did not do something simple and low-cost that could have helped the survivors of this horrible event. It did not crack open the door and admit a small number of them to the United States.