International Economics

Talent on the Move

A review of Borderless Economics, a new book about the joys of labor mobility


'As a tool for spreading wealth, open borders make foreign aid look like a child's lemonade stand," writes Robert Guest, business editor of the Economist, in Borderless Economics, a rapid-fire case for the free movement of labor from one country to another. Central to his case is a 2005 study by Lant Pritchett, a former economist at the World Bank, titled "Let Their People Come: Breaking the Gridlock on Global Labor Mobility." Mr. Pritchett found that if developed countries slightly liberalized their immigration laws and increased their work forces by a mere 3%, the gains in remittances and other benefits to developing countries would amount to more than $300 billion.

Put another way, a Salvadorean man with a high-school education needs only to come to the U.S. to increase his annual earning power more than eightfold, from $2,700 to $22,611—a figure, by the way, almost identical to the earning potential for Americans with the same level of education. Compare the $300 billion benefit with the $70 billion spent annually on foreign aid by developed countries, much of which ends up in the Swiss bank accounts of corrupt politicians.

Unlike graft-riddled foreign-aid programs, nearly 100% of the dollars sent back home by emigrants who have made good find their way to the intended destination. Mr. Guest quotes Philippe Legrain, the author of "Immigrants: Your Country Needs Them" (2007), explaining that "it is common for an engineer who earns $5,000 a year in a poor country to move to a rich one, earn $30,000 a year and send $5,000 of it back to the old country. His home economy does not even miss him." Recorded remittances to developing countries were $316 billion in 2009 (and that's just what shows up on the books).

Read the rest in today's Wall Street Journal.

NEXT: Of All Drugs, 'This Is the Scariest One'—Until Next Year

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  1. According to Heather Butthurt, the executive director of the National Security Network, “A foreign policy that lets our trading partners collapse (in Europe); fails to engage with new ones as they are busily building ties with each other (Brazil, Turkey, Korea, Indonesia); and lets new disease incubate in the food we import and pollution concentrate in the winds we breathe will kill citizens and impoverish our national treasury as surely as the wars Paul critiques.”…..?page=full

    1. Citing a “Heather Butthurt” and giving a SugarFreed link —

      I give this a 5 out of 10 on the Troll-o-Meter.

      1. Also this is maybe the 10th time he has posted it and he wasn’t even the person who originally posted it.

    2. It’s pronounced Boo-throux!

      1. Oh no its the bucket woman!

  2. …no privation property.

    1491-style gamboling is in the house!

    1. Wrong, White Indian.

      It means we’re consolidating Prisons into a single worldwide Capitalist Worker’s Paradise. You’ll still have to work for us or starve to death.

      If we allow gamboling, who would work for us?

      “You’ll know you’re among the people of your culture if the food is all owned, if it’s all under lock and key. But food was once no more owned than the air or the sunshine are owned. No other culture in history has ever put food under lock and key?and putting it there is the cornerstone of your economy, because IF THE FOOD WASN’T UNDER LOCK AND KEY, WHO WOULD WORK?” ~Daniel Quinn

      1. Mother Culture teaches that, “hunter-gatherers must live in a state of utter and unending anxiety over what tomorrow’s going to bring.”

        But anthropologists will tell you that, “they are far less anxiety-ridden than you are. They have no jobs to lose.

        No one can say to them, ‘Show me your money or you don’t get fed, don’t get clothed, don’t get sheltered.'”

        ~Daniel Quinn

        1. No one to yell at me as I starved to death.

        2. “Show me your money or you don’t get fed, don’t get clothed, don’t get sheltered.'”

          Money is a tool we use to represent value we have produced. I think it’s safe to say that even if hunter-gatherers do not use formal money, a hunter-gatherer who refuses to produce value for himself and to his band won’t get fed, clothed, or sheltered.

          1. It is not uncommon to find warfare itself seen as a means of enhancing the fertility of cultivated ground. Ritual regulation of production and belligerence means that domestication has become the decisive factor. “The emergence of systematic warfare, fortifications, and weapons of destruction,” says Hassan, “follows the path of agriculture.”

            John Zerzan
            On the Origins of War

            1. That’s an impressive…non-sequitor.

              1. It’s no non-sequitur; your response means that only you do not follow.

                You mentioned production, and then conflated it with foraging.

                Hunting and gathering isn’t production.

                1. No, it shows that you do not understand what “production” means. It means expending effort to create something of value. Foraging still creates value as foodstuffs gathered in your camp are more valuble than randomly placed in a state of nature.

                  1. I know the economic definition of “production.” I also know that domestication, agriculture, industry, and manufacture are all words closely related to “production.”

                    Economists don’t consider foraging to be “production.” But if you really think foraging equals the connotation of production, go add a “foraging” link to the “See Also” here:

                    ? Assembly line
                    ? Economics
                    ? Fordism
                    ? Means of production
                    ? Mode of production
                    ? Modernity
                    ? Outline of industrial organization
                    ? Product (business)
                    ? Sociology
                    ? Taylorism

                    Fact is, life on earth made it for billions of years without production, and humans thrived in the Original Affluent Society (Sahlins, 1974) without production.

                    Now with production, life on earth is being snuffed out fast; we’re in the Sixth Great Extinction, and the vast cedar forests of Mesopotamia (mentioned in the epic of Gilgamesh and confirmed via archeology) have been “developed” into the Iraqi desert. Boy oh boy, those goddam swords & plowshares they produced really “valuable”, such “utility!” — while the fun lasted.

                    P.S. City-Statist (civilized) economics always cheat, they never give a full accounting. You can tell all around you; the world is being murdered and half the globo-“civilized” world is hungry.

                    Economic hit-men is a redundant term.

                2. Hunting and gathering isn’t production.

                  What? If you are thinking that hunting and gathering aren’t production because the game and forage are already out there in the forest waiting for you, no.

                  Unless you are also willing to say that coal mining and drilling for oil are production because the stuff is just waiting; that writing isn’t production because all the words are already in the dictionary; that farming isn’t production because the sun and the soil are naturally occurring.

                  Until rabbits fling themselves into stewpots and berries pop off the vines into children’s upturned mouths, hunting and gathering — turning resources into goods — is a perfectly valid form of production.

        3. I usually ignore you but I just want to say that at the end of your life you will not get back all of those hours you spend here just to annoy us. What a waste of time. I know that I spend more time here than I probably should, but I am libertarian and this is a libertarian site. I’m not really sure what you are other than confused but it seems like you could find a better use of your time than preaching nonsense to us. Ok, I’m back to ignoring you. Have a nice day and a Happy New Year.

          1. …history to learn from, and you call it…


            You’re full of city-Statist bullshit.

          2. …and you’re compelled to respond. Like now.

      2. Try poaching a hunter’s meat and then tell us again that food wasn’t owned. That is, if he doesn’t kill you.

        1. Poaching is an invalid concept to Non-State society, agricultural city-Statist.

      3. Bear with me if I am the millionth person to make this point:

        I am a fairly regular reader of, especially the posts on Hit&Run;. I have always enjoyed the comment threads, and post a few times a month.
        Awhile back, I noticed an annoying trend. Virtually every single blog post would quickly have something to the effect of “city-state privation property”, and then the thread would degrade into name calling. While I know this isn’t exactly unique on the Internet, it’s ruining these forums. The endless “city-state privation property” posts are so poorly written, off-topic, and pointless, that they are practically spam by now.
        Can we all just agree that we aren’t going to respond to them anymore?

        I’m on my soapbox and wearing my serious face, but it’s either that or stop reading these forums. I used to find it interesting here, so I’d rather the spammers be the ones to leave.

        1. I’d like to add one thing: By no means am I suggesting that people who don’t suscribe to my political philosophy or cultural preferences shouldn’t post here. Of all people, we who consider ourselves under the umbrella of “libertarian” should know the danger of cultivating echo chambers. Most people here should (and probably do) enjoy engaging in reason-based arguments with people who hold other viewpoints. But that’s not what this is. This is arguing with a piece of junk mail or a schizophrenic off his meds. It’s not interesting, it’s not enlightening, and it’s not in good faith. I’m not even sure if it’s trolling; it’s more like sabotage of this forum.

          1. this Dave,

            I don’t understand your ‘schizophrenic’ comments.

            – first post “the thread would degrade into name calling” then, 12 minutes later ” arguing with a piece of junk mail or a schizophrenic off his meds”

            Was the latter remark a compliment , or perhaps you practice medicine

            – first post “I noticed an annoying trend… it’s ruining these forums”, then, 12 minutes later “Of all people, we who consider ourselves under the umbrella of “libertarian” should know the danger of cultivating echo chambers.”

            So if you don’t understand the argument or you seem it “arguing with a piece of junk mail”, we need to follow your non-echo chamber advice and not engage the inproficient troller but possible saboteur?

            And finally, Mr. Critic who can’t help but read “posts are so poorly written, off-topic, and pointless”, use spell-check yourself.

            BTW, I have read only one White Indian post, found it dull, and skip all his comments

            1. I’m with Dave. Not sure what branch of the pedantry tree “rather” fell from but he hit every branch.

            2. It’s no wonder our Soviet Political officer DAVE can come up with a Soviet psychiatric diagnosis of schizophrenia so often: it’s true.

              Schizophrenia is a common disease of civilization.

              Schizophrenia and civilization (1980)
              E. Fuller Torrey
              University of Michigan Library, Scholarly Publishing Office

              Schizophrenia is what happens to caged animals.

              Richard Manning on the Psychosis of Civilization

              1. Oh for fuck’s sake. NEVERMIND.

                The city-state privation property is a privation property city-state agriculture! What were we talking about again?!?!?

                There, happy?

                1. Dave, what he’s doing is putting forth an irrelevant but circular agrument based on tortured logic and pseudo-intellectual justifications. He’s doing it as often as he can in the hopes that serious people will get fed up with his idiotic, meandering nonsense and stop visiting this site. The more replied he gets, the more he will pour it on. Just ignore him and eventually his mom will make him go to bed. It will also piss him off since most of the people who do this feed on the attention they are getting as it is the only way anyone will pay them any mind in real life. They are called trolls. If you starve them, they will leave.

                  1. Brother Grimm,
                    I see you not only write but believe in fairy tales

        2. …and you feel compelled to respond. Like right now, Dave.

          Because you don’t want 2 million years of human history to be true. You want people to be as ignorant of it as what young-earth-creationists think of anything before 4004 B.C., Dave.

          The Original Affluent Society (Sahlins, 1974) is as earthshaking as On the Origins of the Species (Darwin, 1859)(even if he had so much wrong); so very upsetting to the religio-economic Fundamentalists. Like you, Dave.

          I’ve opened the pod bay door for you, Dave.

          Look in.

          1. I have no idea what you are talking about, and neither does anyone else.

            1. Neither does he. But after looking into it, it still amounts to irrelevant nonsense. Just let it go and eventually hell spend his wad and the adults can go back to talking.

  3. Newt Paul is in the house.

    Remember, contracts are sacred, not signatures.

    Things happen, scro’.

  4. Evi is a practical, hands-on kind of girl. She works in a metal shop in a small German town and leads a simple and happy life. Evi is an animal lover and enjoys horse riding and training dogs in her free time.

    She is studying horse and dog psychology part-time and her ultimate hero is Monty Roberts author of the famous book The Horse Whisperer, she also loves listening to The Eagles. She tells us that her current boyfriend is 16; youthful and fun-loving, just like herself. Carefree and straightforward, Evi is plain speaking and will always speak her mind.

    She has dreamt of being a model since she was little and is a natural with her toned, tanned body, firm breasts and winning smile, although her own favourite body part is her pert ass. Evi believes that happiness is the key to a good life!

    1. Horse and dog psychology?

      1. Damnit! How did you know?

        1. And then there’s this stuff…

    2. Who is this idiot and why does he keep doing this?

  5. Norway enjoys diversity and the “joys” of immigration.
    All sexual assaults in the past year were committed by diverse immigrants.

    1. Norwegians would get sexually assaulted a lot less if they’d arm themselves.

    2. Wow, that’s really scary. Norwegian police don’t even investigate rapes committed by white men.

      Seriously, that’s the only legitimate interpretation of that statistic. Cross-racial rape is comparatively rare — but the cops haven’t arrested a single white man for rape in the prototype of a white-majority country.

  6. Okay, where are all the faux-libertarian “we must stop the Mexican invasion at all costs” people? Has this article not been posted on NRO yet?

    1. They probably can’t stop laughing long enough to post. Or maybe they’re waiting for you to ride this issue to electoral success.

    2. So if you believe in open borders, must you automatically pretend that the negative consequences don’t exist? Come to the Southwest and get in a car accident with some illegals and tell me how imaginary that problem is when the police laugh at the idea that you’ll ever hear from them again.
      But that’s not convenient to the stance, so I guess we have to pretend it doesn’t happen?

  7. That actually sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

  8. Will we never put a stake through the heart of this foolish venture?

    Mr. Pritchett found that if developed countries slightly liberalized their immigration laws and increased their work forces by a mere 3%, the gains in remittances and other benefits to developing countries would amount to more than $300 billion.

    Once upon a time, long ago in a far-away place, Reason was at least nominally libertarian.

    Today, in this world here and now, it has become a flaming liberal left advocate. See above, and more arguments like them.

    Put another way, a Salvadorean man with a high-school education needs only to come to the U.S. to increase his annual earning power more than eightfold…

    If I’m a good principled capitalist, why should this argument sway me in any way at all?

    Of course if a I was a flaming liberal leftist I’d probably think this was an absolutely brilliant and compelling argument.

    Next up we’ll hear of the new study that says we don’t need no stinking countries at all. In fact whoever does this study will be unable to imagine why the very concept ever came to exist in the first place.

    1. What is non-libertarian about more open borders? Free trade and a mobile labor force aren’t exactly leftist ideas.

      1. But justifying it in the name of altruism, definitely is.

    2. Uh, what? Saying the state can tell you where you can and cannot live and who you can and cannot contract with is pretty much the opposite of libertarian. You’ve got it exactly backwards. If you want to tell me I can’t hire somebody from another country, then that would make you the statist.

      And if you’re going to advocate open borders (as a libertarian publication should), you might as well tout the benefits.

    3. If some policy of the United States essentially cost an American 90% of his income, I trust you would find it a massive rights violation.

      Why do you find it odd to see the same massive rights violation when the victim is a Salvadorean?

      1. Why do you find it odd to see the same massive rights violation when the victim is a Salvadorean?

        Well, it’s the duty and purpose of the US government to protect the rights of US citizens. How things work out for Salvadoreans is properly way down its list.

        But whoever is paying that Salvadorean $25,000 — probably an American citizen — is getting a lot more than $25,000 out of him. Say it’s me and I would get $30,000 of work. That $5000 surplus is mine and the US government’s policy is robbing me of that money.

        Plus, when Jos? would spend his salary (either directly or by sending it home), someone else would earn $25,000, providing him with an apartment or a car or food or whatever the money goes for. That landlord or car-company or grocer is being robbed big time by being cut off from that sale.

        You cannot put a chain around a man’s leg without finding the other end of the chain wrapped around your own neck.

  9. I tried to think so, but i found it was not as the same in the actual process

  10. Clearly America needs open borders with high unemployment. America will have a much smaller goverment when euro’s are a minority. America will be richer. Latinos and blacks are well known fans of small goverment.

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