Aug 21, 2011

The most effective anti-poverty program?

The available evidence suggests that the gains to lowering barriers to emigration appear much larger than gains from further reductions in barriers to goods trade or capital flows—and may be much larger than those available through any other shift in a single class of global economic policy. Indeed, “some big bills have not been picked up on the routes that lead from poor to rich countries” (Olson, 1996). Research economists, however, write relatively little about emigration. The term “international trade” is 13 times more frequent than “international migration” in all the published article abstracts contained in the Research Papers in Economics (RePEc) archive. Furthermore, economists focus on arrival, not departure: in RePEc, “immigration” is four times as frequent as “emigration.”
If this additional research tends to confirm that barriers to emigration place one of the fattest of all wedges between humankind’s current welfare and its potential welfare—no doubt with a number of useful caveats—then understanding and realizing the gains from emigration deserve much more research priority. Emigration’s literature remains scattered; emigration’s Wealth of Nations unwritten; emigration’s Ricardo undiscovered. Source

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