Open borders immigration is a key to growth

Open borders immigration would be a boost not only for the UK but the entire global economy

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Are closed borders now obsolete?
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Guy Bentley
On 7 September 2012 12:16

The majority of UK workers tend to be middle skilled workers. The majority of immigrants tend to be very high skilled or very low skilled.

Here we encounter a classic example of Frederic Bastiat’s. That which is seen and that which is unseen. It can be very easy to identify a worker who loses his job to an immigrant. What is not seen however, are the new jobs that are created through the new availability of labour.

The other problem with this objection is that it falls into the lump of labour fallacy.

There is not a set amount of jobs in an economy. So when one immigrant enters the labour force and gains employment, he or she is not taking one of the few jobs that are in supply and negatively affecting a UK born worker.

When we view the situation in this light we see that immigrants complement our work force rather than diminish it. We do not see a significant increase in structural unemployment due to immigration. If this were true, the entrance of women into the workforce would have resulted in a significant uptick in unemployment. It didn’t.

The factors that do affect unemployment in a significant way are welfare, high taxes and restrictive regulations on businesses ability to hire and fire workers.

The final commonly raised objection to more free immigration is that it depresses wages.

There is an intuitive feeling about this objection. If there is an increase in the supply of workers, then there will be competition to drive wages down. There is very little empirical evidence for this.

When immigrants enter the labour force they not only increase the supply of labour but they also have demands for goods and services which assist with further job creation and no necessary decrease in wages.

There is also a humanitarian and libertarian case to be made for open borders.  Forget foreign aid, with open borders immigration we could not only benefit our own economy but the poorest in the world would be lifted out of poverty not through hand-outs but through wealth creation.

The libertarian case is a relatively simple one. Governments throughout the world should not have the power to prevent you from moving to any part of the planet’s surface that you so choose so long as you bear the costs of this movement.

The potential benefits of more liberalised immigration are even more dramatic when applied on a global scale.

It has been estimated  that open borders could lead to a boost in world GDP of between 50-150%. This would be more beneficial than anything that has been previously discussed in the alphabet soup of international meetings of the G-8, G-20 and the EU. 

The UK should set an example to the world as it did in the 19th century with a unilateral adoption of free trade.

We should open our borders and lobby for other countries to do the same. The World Trade Organisation should have at its heart not just trade liberalisation, but the breaking down of destructive immigration restrictions.

We should embrace the idea in a globalised world of free movement, not just of goods and services, but our best resource of all. People.

Guy Bentley is The Editorial Assistant at the Commentator 

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