MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

The Other Immigration Question: Should People from Wealthy Countries Migrate to Poorer Ones?

Posted by M. C. on September 28, 2022

The problem is not that people from poorer countries are migrating to the West, but that few Westerners relocate to poor countries with their know-how and institutions.

https://mises.org/wire/other-immigration-question-should-people-wealthy-countries-migrate-poorer-ones

The immigration debate has polarized societies across the Western world. Objectors assert that the influx of migrants has corroded social relations, and defenders argue that immigrants release a dose of entrepreneurial dynamism. Debates will persist because it’s unlikely that people can be discouraged from migrating to rich countries in the West. Migrants will continuously flock to places like America and Canada, since they provide better opportunities.

Besides offering immigrants more options to build wealth, rich countries in Europe and North America also attract many through their well-endowed welfare systems. Researchers contend that welfare acts as a magnet that lures migrants to prosperous countries. The allure of welfare is so potent that limiting benefits can reduce the net flow of immigrants to host countries. Also, benefitting from higher incomes in developed countries affords immigrants the opportunity to experience a superior quality of life.

Economist Michael Clemens has opined that migration to the United States is the best strategy to lift Haitians out of poverty. For many in the developing world, migrating to a stable country with effective institutions is the most plausible avenue for self-advancement. Migrating can also lead to favorable health outcomes and improved well-being because developing countries have inferior health systems. Not only is healthcare better in rich countries, but in Europe and North America people are more likely to receive subsidized healthcare.

Living standards are substantially better in Western countries, so it’s understandable why people would endanger their safety to enter America or Europe. But perhaps the current debate is misguided. Instead, policy makers should be making the case for people in Western countries to migrate to the developing world. Human capital is pivotal to economic growth, and poorer countries suffer from lower levels of human capital.

However, human capital is not the accumulation of information but rather the application of expertise.

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