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You'd have to take into account physical proximity and establish how much utility each member (prior to the new entrants arrival) derives from the amount of space available (even though immigrants tend to cluster in low income neighbourhoods) , and the net utility derived from the externalities imposed by the presence of others. For example if the new entrant is a very neat person, who's also mechanically apt and he does more cleaning than would have otherwise been done - fixes everything - it's entirely different than a slob who plays loud , bad music.

Both the pieces you link to make a reference to elite opinion, but I wonder if elite opinion is skewed by "elite immigrants". If you're an academic or some other high status individual, you've almost certainly had plenty of contact of other academics who happen to be immigrants, who all have advanced degrees, speak near perfect conversational English, and who are culturally quite similar to you, simply because elite cultural is similar wherever you go. If that's your reference point for who an immigrant is, even tough it's likely to be entirely subconsciously, the cultural issues people raise will seem to be much more intolerant then they are because when you try to apply those objections to someone like the German academic you may work with, it seems ludicrous.

Nick,

From a Georgist (or geolibertarian) perspective "your house" consists of your structure plus your right to exclude others from a piece of land. You have that right of exclusion by virtue of paying the market price of exclusion (the land value tax is the price at which everyone else is indifferent to occupying the land and receiving the tax on the margin). From that perspective, your right to exclude foreigners from "your country" is in proportion to the extent to which you share the nation's land rents with the global population (i.e. pay them their price for staying out).

Vladimir: take me as an example. I immigrated to Canada (from England) 35 years ago. And then moved to Quebec 25 years ago. (I live on a mostly francophone street in a historically mostly anglophone municipality in a mostly francophone province of a mostly anglophone country.) Nobody knows I'm a "stranger" until I open my mouth. There are (nowadays) few English immigrants living in Quebec. They probably see me as an interesting curiosity, with no serious negative externalities. But suppose a million immigrants just like me had arrived in Quebec at the same time. "Don't worry, we will pay more taxes then we get in benefits, will create as many jobs as we take, and will pay you good money to build us houses, and there's lots of space here in Quebec for a million extra Brits, so we are a net gain for Quebec!" I don't think that argument would fly. A million people like me would get a much frostier reception than the good reception I have got. Because Quebec wouldn't be the same any more. It wouldn't feel like home in the same way, to those who had always lived here. And language would be just one of the changes.

Joseph: I think you are right. And academics are just one example of how the elites (what I called "the establishment", echoing an older concept) are nowadays more similar (more "western"?) across countries than the non-elite.

Anon: But suppose you view a country as a common property resource.

"How would we do the economics of migration if we modelled countries as homes?"

Good question. And how would we do labor economics if we modelled places of employment as homes?

"But suppose you view a country as a common property resource."

Common to whom?

That is the Georgist point. Is your land the common property of your family or do you rent the right to exclusive use from the greater common? Same with the country. Does it belong to the citizens or should they be viewed as renting it from all the people of the world? What makes any a priory definition of "common" (i.e. the citizens own the country) the economically correct one? What, ultimately, gives any group of people the right to exclude any other group from any given piece of land?

> How would we do the economics of migration if we modelled countries as homes?

Time preference and traditions.

We instinctively and viscerally react to the prospect of a forced roommate because our dwellings are not exclusively (or even primarily) economic goods. We live in our homes *for ourselves*, in that we invest time, effort, and not-inconsiderable expense to make it a home we can comfortably live in.

Investments in our homes are done in the expectation that it is ourselves who will enjoy the exclusive future benefits of those investments. Those investments (such as hanging a nice picture) are wholly uncompensated, but we make them because we expect we'll be able to reap those benefits for some time.

A forced roommate changes that calculus, and what once we freely did for ourselves and our loved ones we now have to measure and price. How much extra should I charge my roommate to hang their print of American Gothic versus mine of Impression, Sunrise? The very act of negotiation may be so fraught that the benefit isn't worth it, and the wall stays bare.

The same considerations apply writ large when it comes to communities. "We" make investments in our communities for "ourselves," both us in the future and our inheritors. But with person-flux (either immigration or mobility) beyond what a community can integrate, the constitution of the community in the future is *qualitatively* different than its current constitution. If my community won't look the same a decade from now, then why should I voluntarily vote for, say, local spending to build new parks?

Community interaction is a web of unspoken, unwritten externalities, where sacrifices both individually and at large are made in the expectation of common benefit later. It's all too easy for that "common" notion to break down, and then once it has done so why should anyone have a horizon longer than the next pay period?

Waxing political, I think this explains certain language around the politics of social benefits. Rhetoric around the social safety net in the US is explicitly racial, where stereotypical images of "welfare queens" reflect racial bias -- the Other -- but not necessarily reality. Likewise, much of the Euroskeptic rhetoric centers around minority Eastern European groups who arrive and leach off of the public dole -- benefits that "should" go to respectable "people like us."

This seems like a very... "unstable" analogy. Why "houses", why not "neighborhoods"? That "small" change in analogy would involve a fairly large change in implications and analysis.

Sandwichman: dunno. Maybe something like the economics of partnerships? They seem to work OK in some cases.

Majromax: good comment. Nothing to add.

notsneaky: Yep. Houses, streets, neighbourhoods, towns, provinces, countries, and then those entities that don't have a geographic expression. But perhaps we don't draw the lines, but watch where people draw them.

I don't like that "good post by Ben". Even in a democratic society we do dictate that it is legitimate for people to consider certain things as important and illegitimate for them to consider other things important. "I don't want a black person moving into my neighborhood" is a illegitimate view, even if the majority of individuals in a neighborhood feel that way. Keep in mind that we are not talking economics here - the view we are discounting is not "I don't want people who don't contribute their fair share to move into my neighborhood". We are talking about extra-economic reasons. That's why discussing the economics of immigration is a "conversation we can have", while there really isn't much point in discussing the fact that some people "feel" a certain way. So the strawmen "liberal-left" voices which supposedly "shut down" those discussions actually have a point (and we're not talking strategy either, so this isn't about whether they should or should not address these feelings)

And of course there's a very likely strong correlation between those "feelings" and the non-random error that people make in how they asses the purely economic impacts of migration.

notsneaky: "...the purely economic impacts of migration."

The boundary between "economic" and "not-economic" is what is at issue. It feels strange to be told that a narrow-minded "economic" focus is the only *legitimate* conversation we can have. Do "left-liberal" voices say that dollar values are the only legitimate values? They normally argue the opposite. Strange bed-fellows.

Surely a country is a club good? And there are a reason clubs have membership rules and rights to exclude.

It seems fairly obvious that immigration can be handled more or less well. I come from a country (Australia) which handles it comparatively well and has a very high rate of foreign born residents by Western standards (around 23%)--for example, our migrants actually do better in school on average than locally-born, which is not a normal pattern. But we are a prosperous, English-speaking island-continent, so border enforcement is relatively easy and we can cherry-pick migrants (which we do quite effectively).

We also have diverse migrants, which helps greatly. Indeed, the most problematic migrant community are Lebanese Muslims in Sydney because:
(1) Sydney is our least socially-functional metropolis.
(2) Unlike Maronite Lebanese, they do not plug straight into well-established Catholic networks.
(3) They were brought in an unusually large "lump" with minimal selection procedures.
(4) There are specific issues for Middle East Muslims settling into Western countries.

The US has much less difficulty with Muslim migrants than Europe does because the US is set up as a settler country, its migrants are relatively diverse, its Muslim migrants are generally better educated, "God-discourse" is much more conventional part of public life while organising through your local mosque just replicates established patterns of organising through your local synagogue or church.

Nick, if you take your excellent way of teaching comparative advantage and add in issues with costs of communications and different expectations across language, cultural and religious groups, would it work quite the same? Especially if there is geographic clumping of same? Adding in history, in other words, can shift the analysis some.

In Australia, opinion polling had become somewhat hostile to migration since the mid 1970s. The polls improved dramatically after the Howard Government (1996-2007) made a big play of "stopping the boats". It's slogan of "we will decide who will come here" seriously resonated. The costs and benefits of migration are not evenly distributed, and giving voters a sense they have no say or control is not healthy. It is that sense of powerlessness which is a very big driver of popular responses, I suspect.

Lorenzo: " It is that sense of powerlessness which is a very big driver of popular responses, I suspect."

I strongly suspect that too. And if even discussion is shut down, the sense of powerlessness only escalates. And the UKIP argument is that leaving the EU and controlling immigration go together. You can't do the second while in the EU.

I think (not sure) that Canadian and Australian immigration policies are roughly similar. Voters generally think they have a reasonable degree of control, and there's a points system, and "we will decide who comes here", and so it's not so much of an issue as in the EU. (Aboriginals might view things differently, of course.)

Some people come into your house and abide by your rule. Some others tell you that your rules don't suit them and they won't obey them. Some others tell you that from now on you obey them and you will live in the basement.
We know how we behaved in the past and have no confidence that newcomers will be kinder...
As a Huron-Wandat chief from Wendake ( a reservation in Québec City suburbs) once said: "We had a bad immigration policy."

"The boundary between "economic" and "not-economic" is what is at issue. It feels strange to be told that a narrow-minded "economic" focus is the only *legitimate* conversation we can have. Do "left-liberal" voices say that dollar values are the only legitimate values? They normally argue the opposite. Strange bed-fellows."

Well, I am not one of the "left-liberal" voices myself so I can't comment on any of the logical inconsistencies those voices commit. The reason I don't like that blog post is because it reads like Ben is trying to have his cake and eat it too. These "left-liberal" voices shout down certain arguments about immigration by crying "racism", and that's bad. But this isn't about economics, it's about "feelings" and these feelings need to be taken into consideration! Well, calling those "feelings" "racism" IS a a way of taking them into consideration. It's not the kind of consideration or conclusion that he wants, but that exactly what it is. Once you say that it's about the "non-economic" aspects of immigration, the issue regarding whether opposition to immigration is motivated by racism (or some other "anti-ism", whichever one is relevant) is a very big part of that discussion. Ben just wants certain people to come to different conclusions about those "feelings"... or else, they shouldn't talk about it at all!

Actually it's not really about the boundary between "economics" and "non-economics". It's really about the question about what kind of individual preferences should find a place in a social welfare function and when the hypothetical benevolent social planner should just say "those preferences are sort of messed up, uhh... I will just ignore them". Should we take racist preferences into account when evaluating social outcomes? Both Ben's post and to a small extent yours sort of tries to write around and skirt this issue. Which is why I don't like it. In other words, the boundary is not between "economics" and "non-economics" (come on, we all know it's really all economics in one way or another) but about the boundary between "I like a particular (my own) culture" and "racism".

That's also the difference between the "house" and the "neighborhood" analogy. If you frame immigration in terms of "you should get to decide who moves into your house" that sort of immediately prejudices it in favor of "anti-immigration". Of course you should have that right! But if you frame immigration in terms of "you should be able to keep "undesirables" out of your neighborhood" then most people will think segregation, racism, discrimination etc. and object to it. You have no such right!

Problem with analogies is that, though often useful (and yours are usually very useful!) they can easily slip into manipulative rhetoric.

Jacques Rene: "We know how we behaved in the past and have no confidence that newcomers will be kinder..."

Yep. The anglo saxon immigrants (probably) ethnically cleansed the ancient brits from most of England. And so it goes on.

notsneaky: "Problem with analogies is that, though often useful (and yours are usually very useful!) they can easily slip into manipulative rhetoric."

Fair point. But if I drew my picture on the board, with little dots and arrows, where a "country" is nothing more than an are north of an arbitrary horizontal line, we might say that is manipulative rhetoric too. "Countries as homes" is designed to provide a contrasting rhetoric.

Nick: yes, our immigration policies are similar.

Another element is the so-called Curley Effect--using migration to attract in folk like to vote in a particular way and the results to drive away folk who vote differently. See this paper by Edward Glaeser and Andrei Shleiffer:
http://scholar.harvard.edu/files/glaeser/files/curley_effect_1.pdf

The sense that your rights will be under threat if a particular group gets sizable is another factor. Gay folk are not likely to be keen on large scale Muslim migration, especially if the fight for equal protection of the law is not yet fully won or is otherwise precarious.

The effect of new entrants on the rules is another way polities are club goods

Lorenzo: I think I agree that countries as club goods is a good way to start. Notice something a bit strange about the membership criteria for countries though: it's mostly some sort of mixture of "blood and soil": Children of existing members (usually) get membership; those born on club grounds (usually) get membership. ("Usually", because it varies by country, and how many generations born outside.) All others have to apply for membership. This tends to make countries a bit more like families than other clubs, where everyone has to apply for membership, rather than getting membership at birth. Ancestry matters (and hence "race" inevitably crops up).

I think immigration is an easy scapegoat.

The world economy has changed massively in the last 20 years: China, India, Soviet bloc, etc... had no impact a few years ago. Any such change will disrupt old patterns. Immigration is just a (small) facet of such an event. Even trade in services (call centers, software developments, etc...) has bloomed... No industry is unaffected.

People here are talking about social capital being eroded by immigrants, but I think a much larger part of social capital is eroded by trade and technology. And thank god for that as those are the forces that have taken us away from subsidence agriculture.

Countries might be houses, but earthquakes tend not to respect property rights...

We talk about countries as stable cultural entities, but they vary all the time even without immigration. Are you going to tell me that the 1960 generation saw eye to eye with the previous one? Or that the current generation sees eye to eye with its parents? Stability is an illusion...

Blaming immigrants for changes that would happen anyway is illogical.

acarraro: "...but I think a much larger part of social capital is eroded by trade and technology."

How do you see that happening? Is it that any change in the pattern of trade will disrupt trading relationships between people, and so erode social capital? (We learn to trust the people we trade with).

I am not exactly sure that you mean by social capital, but I mostly think of trust. You are more likely to trade with people you know as you have a history with them. But a new pattern of trade or a new technology might enter into the equation and make the cost of trading with someone new small compared with the potential benefit. As time goes by, people start forming new relationships and capital goes back up...

Physical capital gets obsolete all the time, I struggle to see why it wouldn't apply to social capital. Even political system require pretty constant changes through time... A person born in 1870 would hardly recognize the US political system and that's the most stable system is some way.

I just read an article about the US nurse association starting a media campaign to stop automation in the health system. They are claiming we should experiment with AI diagnostic tools as they are dangerous and unreliable. Or about taxi drivers in Europe fighting Uber as "unfair" competition...

Wouldn't you agree that such a technologies would destroy nurses/drivers human capital?

Every person is a little brand. It helps us sell our skills in the marketplace. It protects us from competition as a small barrier of entry. But sometimes something new comes along and our brand gets devalued.

It should say stop experimenting...

Not sneaky,

First, I think we have to be careful about characterizing anti-immigrant sentiment as "racist". To be sure, racists are generally anti-immigrant (or anti- certain kinds of immigrants), but it doesn't follow that all xenophobes are racist. My sense is that a large part of the anti-immigrant sentiment in countries like France or Holland is primarily cultural, rather than racial. Their objection to recent generations of immigrants is not that they're brown, but that they're perceived to embrace a culture, namely Arabic Islamic , that is alien to (and in certain respects inconsistent with) French culture.

Now, one can argue whether that concern is well-founded, or whether it has been exploited by people like the Le Pens (my own view is that France should have concerns about how poorly it has integarated Muslim immigrants into both the job market and the broader society, but that this is as much the fault of lousy French policy - notably its disastrous labour market practices - as it is an unwillingness of Muslim migrants to integrate), but it certainly is legitimate to be concerned about the impact of migration on the host country. And I think the liberal-left does a great disservice to itself when it dismisses those concerns (as it is wont to do) as the antics of racists, since the effect is to alienate a good chunk of their voters (often working class voters who, in the none-too-recent past, would have voted for left wing parties). Better that those concerns be addressed head-on than to dimiss them as illigitimate, because they're not going to go away.

As to your claim that:

"if you frame immigration in terms of "you should be able to keep "undesirables" out of your neighborhood" then most people will think segregation, racism, discrimination etc. and object to it. You have no such right!"

That's not correct. Sovereign countries do have the right to keep "undesirables" (however defined) out. Canada has a fairly liberal immigration policy, but we keep "undesirables", defined as people who (a) aren't legitimate refugees, (b) can't satisfy our immigration requirements, or (c) are criminals, terrorists or otherwise dangerous, out. Thankfully, we don't define "undesirables" in racial terms, but we could (and used to) if we wanted to (subject to our own domestic legal restrictions embedded in the Charter, although that too we can amend, albeit with difficulty), and certain other countries have their own definitions of "undesirables" - try migrating to Japan). Granted, EU countries can't do that amongst themselves without giving up EU membership (they couldn' however, give up EU membership), but nevertheless if we're talking about countries as "neighbourhoods", clearly they do have that right.

The question really is, how should they exercise that right and define "undesirables".

acarraro: what you say makes sense to me. It may be difficult to test empirically, because high trust societies may be more likely to implement change, so we get reverse causality too.

Bob: "Better that those concerns be addressed head-on than to dimiss them as illigitimate, because they're not going to go away."

That, to me, is the main lesson of the recent EU elections, and one that seems to be be slowly dawning on the establishment (from my reading of the news). The attempt to delegitimise has failed, and maybe even backfired. The illegitimates won the election. (Sure, low turnout and all, but who knows which way the non-voters would have voted?)

And in France, where the FN did particularly well, voter turnout was up from prior elections.

I think the analogy works pretty well. People can be very emotional about their countries, much like their homes. They won't necessarily be pro-immigration or pro-trade just because they think it's good economics.

Hey, check out my own blog about the Canadian and world economies -- http://future-economics.net

"Better that those concerns be addressed head-on than to dismiss them as illegitimate, because they're not going to go away."

They have been addressed head-on for decades now, which is to a large extent how the FN became so successful. The idea that immigration is a problem in need of a solution has been the dominant discourse in France for as long as I remember, and it's in fact a great triumph of marketing for far-right parties to have convinced people that they are the lone voice in the wilderness.

What we are witnessing now is the end result of twenty years of validating the perspective of the far-right, to the extent that I've never heard a genuine defense of immigration in the mainstream media. The FN party leader is a mainstay of French political shows and the two hitherto main parties (PS and UMP) are both firmly restrictionist. No party is calling for an increase in non-EU immigration: they have bent over backwards to accommodate the far-right, they have stressed that Le Pen is asking the right questions but giving the wrong answers, and they have put a virtual end to economic immigration and immigration in general.

Let's have a look at non-EU immigration to France. In 2012, 200,000 people received a residence permit for the first time. That's 0.31% of the French population, hardly an immigration crisis. This number is probably the lowest the French can go while still pretending that they care about human rights and/or the place of France in the world. Let's break it down further:
- Work-related reasons: 15,827. You could slightly reduce this number, but that would for instance mean preventing foreign scientists, scholars and executives from working in France, which is hardly a good strategy.
- Students: around 60,000. More viable. But inconsistent with the desire that French remain an international language and France a cultural beacon. Plus most of them (3/4) go back home after their studies and I suspect that most FN voters don't think "foreign students" when they think of immigrants they don't like.
- Family reasons: 84,747. The only large category. I guess you can decide that people will not be allowed to marry foreigners anymore, or at least that they won't be able to live with them. But, in today's world, does it really make sense? People travel, study, work abroad and some of them are bound to meet people and get married to them.
- Humanitarian and miscellaneous reasons: the remainder. Sorry, you're not allowed to kick refugees out. That leaves people who are sick and have no access to treatment in their country of origin. I guess we can kick them out.

To go back to the "country as a home" metaphor, at least in terms of how it's used by far-right:
- Your computer has broken down and you need to finish an article. You've found a computer specialist, but one of your roommates (that you've never actually met, it's a big house) prevents her from getting in, insisting that since he's unemployed he'll just take a couple months to learn how to fix computers and will eventually help you. But you certainly don't want an outsider to fix your computer (which is of course not xenophobic at all).
- Your daughter has met someone from outside the house and wants to live with him. But you decide that she can either leave the house forever, because you won't have someone from outside the house be part of your family. But, of course, that's not xenophobic.
- While walking on the street, someone from outside the house suffers a heart attack, makes it to your front door and collapses, clutching his chest. There's a fully staffed hospital inside the house, and you know that the person will die if they're not allowed to enter. But, since they're from outside the house, you leave them there. But, of course, that's not xenophobic.

Damien: good comment, with data. (I take it that the 0.31% figure is *gross* inflows, from the context? I.e. some of those 0.31% will leave France again, when they have finished their studies, or work, or whatever.) Was non-EU immigration to France higher in the past? Is EU immigration to France bigger or smaller than that?

But saying "But, of course, that's not xenophobic." doesn't really get us very far. (And maybe irony should best be avoided here.) OK, let's say it's xenophobic. What next?

Relevant: Crooked Timber just started an online symposium on Joseph Carens' recent book, The Ethics of Immigration. The first post in what will be a series of posts from various authors, going up over the next few days: http://crookedtimber.org/2014/05/26/book-symposium-on-joseph-carenss-the-ethics-of-immigration/

In my experience, these CT symposia are uniformly excellent, so anyone interested in these issues will want to give it a look. In particular, it looks like the latest post in the series hits pretty directly on the issue of why we might (or might not) distinguish between movement or trade within vs. between states: http://crookedtimber.org/2014/05/28/the-ethics-of-immigration-symposium-movement-within-and-between-states/

Damien: "They have been addressed head-on for decades now, which is to a large extent how the FN became so successful."

Sorry, but this is palpably untrue, if for no other reason than that no government in France has addressed any significant issue head on in a generation. THAT's why the FN has been successful.

Look, the immigration debate in France really doesn't have much to do with immigration, it's a proxy for two distinct, and bigger, problems.

The first is the abject failure of France's political class to address France's failing labour market. The reality is that France has had to deal with high rates of unemployment for decades. In 1993 Kim Campbell was excoriated, rightly, for suggesting that Canada might have double digit unemployment for the balance of the decade. Happily we didn't. France did. France is a great place to work if you have a job, with cushy benefits, great job security, and four day work weeks. But it's a lousy place to hire people, so employers don't. And it's a lousy place to be looking for work if you're not one of the insiders.

This first failure has played out in two ways. First, it create an angry pool of un- or under-employed population resentful of their loss of economic stature who lash out against immigrants either on the contradictory grounds that they're stealing "our jobs" and abusing "our welfare system" or merely as scapegoats for their inchoate rate (along with other "outsiders" like the EU, multinational corporations, the "Anglosphere" - not for nothing are those targeted by the FN alongside immigrants). But, because immigrants have largely been the principal victims of lousy French labour market policies (resulting in higher levels of unemployment and greater exclusion from the labour market amongst France's migrant population), it has also served to alienate France's immigrants from the broader French society.

Which leads to the second failure, namely France's inability to integrate recent - principally, but not exclusively, Muslim - immigrants into the broader French society. The French certainly have grounds to be fearful of the rising Islamist sentiment amongst portions of their Islamic communities, and certainly, no one would wonder into the "banlieu" of Paris and think "gee, this is good". The problem is that the French are also largely responsible for breeding that Islamist sentiment by excluding French Muslims from more fulsome participation in the broader society (of which unemployment is merely one, albeit a big one, symptom). I mean, let's face it, the ban on hijabs in public (much less the earlier, and in some ways infinitely stupider, ban on head coverings in public schools - can you imagine a more effective way to isolate France's Muslim population than by denying their children access to schools?) wasn't the handywork of FN troglodytes, those measures found widespread support across the political spectrum. It's no wonder young French Muslims might reject France and its values, given how thoroughly France has rejected them. That is a problem, but it's not a problem with immigration, its a problem with France.

And here, looking at annual migration flows really doesn't do justice to the picture as seen by the French. Sure, annual migration flows may only be ~200k a year (almost half of which is from the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa - this is almost certainly what the FN voters have in mind when they think of immigration). But if you look at the stock of immigrants, that perspective changes. In 2008, there were ~1.6 million migrants from the Maghreb living in France, toss in their kids, that number more than doubles to ~3.5 million (and, note, this in a country whose native population long since stopped having children), with another half million from Turkey. True, the 2nd generation "migrants" aren't migrants in any meaningful sense of the word, but the FN supporters don't see it that way and, more to the point, due to France's failure to integrate them and their parents, neither do they. Moreover, it's not the numbers, it's the distribution. In large swaths around Paris and Marseilles, the "migrants" represent a decidedly visible majority. See in that light, it's hard to dismiss this as a non-issue.

If, as you suggest, "the idea that immigration is a problem in need of a solution has been the dominant discourse in France for as long as [you] remember" it's because no one has addressed either of the above problems. If there hasn't been a genuine defense of immigration, it's because immigration isn't the problem, economic and integration policies are. Immigration is just a proxy for those problems. But France's political leadership is too gormless to address those underlying problems head-on, so they're content to fight the proxy battle over immigration. But since immigration isn't the issue, even if you reduced it to zero, that doesn't address the real problems. Mind you, the FN won't address the real problems either, since they are as backwards as the rest on France's labour market, and their solution to the integration of recent migrants is to cure the disease by killing the patient (not literally, one hopes). But then, I'm not sure we want to be in a position to find out that the FN emperor has no clothes.

"Humanitarian and miscellaneous reasons: the remainder. Sorry, you're not allowed to kick refugees out"

No, but I doubt France's international treaty obligations vis-à-vis refugees carry much weight with your average FN spear-carrier (any more than France's treaty obligations vis-à-vis the Euro, the EU, the WTO, well, you get the point). Almost certainly they would kick refugees out if they had the power to do so. In any event, while refugees may be entitled to protection, that doesn't mean that they can't be a major pain in the ass to their host countries, as any country on the border of a refugee source country can readily attest (to this day, many Jordanians and Lebanese loath Palestinians and blame them, with some cause, for the unrest in their countries over the years). If a refugee population isn't integrating well into its host country, that's a problem, it's just not clear that the FN's preferred solution, of kicking them out, is the only, much less the best, solution.

I would suggest reading 'Trillion Dollar Bills on the Sidewalk' by Michael Clemens in the Journal of Economic Perspectives to get a sense of how much the world stands to gain from free migration. Please look at Tables 1 and 2.

Next, please look at the wages and lives of the global poor. I believe (and I think Brad DeLong, Miles Kimball, and Alex Tabarrok have made similar statements) that someday in the distant future we will look back at our current migration policies with the same horror that we currently experience when we think about slavery in the antebellum era or segregation prior to the civil rights movement.

Nick, on a personal tangential note, your house analogy is compelling (although I can also see the validity of Damien's, the Georgist Anon's, and notsneaky's arguments) and that's what makes me absolutely despise myself every minute I live in the U.S. as an immigrant. I would be loath to stay in a house if some household members dislike my living there (even if the other members have collectively agreed to let me in based on existing laws). Am I so utterly lacking in self-respect that I shamelessly continue to live in a house where some people (even if only a minority) want me out?

Each time I talk about this issue, my many American friends reassure me that I am not unwelcome in the U.S. and my employer has even applied for a permanent residency on my behalf. But it really comes down to whether I consider a country to be a neighborhood or a house. If a country is a neighborhood, I am happy to stay even if (say) some of the racists in the neighborhood don't like the color of my skin. If a country is a house, I would hate to stay or even visit even if (say) just one of the principal members of the household were racist and found me unwelcome. What makes a neighborhood different from a household and which of these two entities does a country resemble more?

Your blog post gives an excellent reason for people to re-read Friedman. Carefully follow the logic of “Capitalism and Freedom” and you will see that the issue here is the welfare state.

Countries should not be though of as houses or clubs. The people of the country might share a some basic common values, but for the most part, in countries like The United States, the population is so diverse there is little agreement on most social issues. Society is composed of individuals with the family unit making up the basic atom.

Using Friedman as our starting point, immigration is about trade, and in that sense it is better to think of the country as a giant market. (In fact, all history, if read correctly, is the story of human migration.) Suppose we think of Canada as a market and some poor person comes up to our gates and says, “I would like to trade with people on the other side of the fence. I have goods (actually, my basic unskilled labour) which some people on the other side are willing to buy at a price that I am willing to accept. This will make the people I trade with on the other side of the fence better off and it will most certainly make me better off. Can I please pass?” The answer we say is “No! You need to go through some point system or some other nonsense before we will think about accepting you. And since you are unskilled, the answer will be no.” This is demeaning, awful, and cruel.

Of course the problem we point out is that allowing vastly more immigrants into Canada would bankrupt our social programs and that is almost certainly true. A welfare state must carefully control immigration. But the worst part of this issue is that the welfare state precludes gains to trades from the poorest people on this planet and for that we should be deeply ashamed. I am Canadian, but I care far more about human beings than some silly transient notion of nationality (Does anyone seriously think that Canada will exist in 1000 years?). If a person from China or India feels that the best she can do in life is to come to Canada to seek employment, why should anyone stop her? At its heart, the welfare state is about guns – point them at the people from whom you want redistribution. And when potential immigrants get in the way of that, point the guns at them too. It's sad.

Nick, that makes them territorial clubs. Like gated communities, really. The family analogy bothers me a bit, because I feel some connection to fellow citizens, but not that intense a one. Also, talking about countries as being like families is a favourite rhetorical ploy of both socialists and fascists, so has a collectivist association I do not resonate with.

I don't really agree that the welfare state requires immigration control.

You need to assume that the average immigrant is more likely to claim benefits than the average native in order to get to that result. Most immigrants are in their prime as well: human beings are not very productive in their first few years. Leaving your family/country requires a large amount of initiative and is likely to be a predictor of dynamism. In the UK, immigrants are less likely to claim benefits or be in jail.

Most western countries have programs to increase birth rates. Are we arguing that natives are innately better? Even if you have to spend several years waiting for them to mature physically and emotionally?

I think the war on immigration is like the war on drugs. It doesn't achieve the stated aims and it costs more than it is worth... You will not stop determined people unless you are willing to live in a police state and the costs in a liberal democracy are just too high... As with drugs, people implicitly assume that no barriers would imply a very large increase... I find it very unlikely that would be the case as a large percentage of people willing to move have already done so...

Migration within the same country is much lower than the "optimal" amount. The north of England (or the south of Italy, etc...) have much higher unemployment rates than other parts of the country. Do all people living in those areas move away? Even if they have no legal or cultural barriers? Usually we actually argue that we need to subsidize movement. Why would foreigner be different?

This is definitely one of my posts where the best part is the comments.

"Countries should not be though of as houses or clubs. The people of the country might share a some basic common values, but for the most part, in countries like The United States, the population is so diverse there is little agreement on most social issues."

I don't think that statement is correct. Yes, there is a great deal of diversity in countries like the United States or Canada and significant disagreement about many social issues. But that understates the high degree of common values, assumptions and beliefs that are shared by most Americans (or Canadians). Those common values, assumptions and beliefs typically aren't the focus of public discussion or subject to public dispute precisely because they are universally accepted. That they are fundamental to American society only becomes apparent when you look at other societies. Drop a hard-right Republican and a hard-left democrat into France, Egypt or India and it becomes pretty apparent that, despite their superficial difference, they are uniquely American and will have more in common with one another than with their new neighbours.

In countries like Canada or the US, there is a great deal of diversity or disagreement, but it's at the surface level. We disagree over the little things, but the commonalities are much more important,

I havent't had time to read all comments, so somebody may have brought this up...

If we think of a country as a house, then I'd guess that residents would be more likely to welcome a new housemate (whether they pay their way or not) if the existing members of the household all have good jobs, their own room nicely furnished, bills all paid, etc ... If quarters are cramped, in need of repair, and money tight, people are going to be grumpy and unlikely to welcome someone new, regardless of where they come from.

Avon: if we didn't have a welfare state, we would care a bit less about who immigrated. "Will they pay more or less in taxes than they cost in benefits?" would be less of an issue. But immigration would still matter. Again, suppose one million Brits, just like me, all immigrated to Quebec at the same time, and we all paid more in taxes than we cost the public purse. Quebec would be a very different place, and it might start to feel less like home and more like a foreign country. As tourists we deliberately seek out foreign parts, that are different from home, for the experience. And some of us might like that experience all our lives. But not everyone would like that. We can also feel the joy of returning home after a trip to foreign parts.

Plus, even a minimalist state has some responsibilities. Will the people living around me fight alongside me or against me in a war? Will we all help each other protect our property rights because we are all part of the same group, or will they see me as "the other" with no joint responsibility to protect our rights?

Bob: In some respects, like jobs for immigrants, the UK has done better than France. But whether that will be enough for integration remains to be seen.

Lorenzo: "Also, talking about countries as being like families is a favourite rhetorical ploy of both socialists and fascists, so has a collectivist association I do not resonate with."

Thinking as an economist, a "country" might seem to be no more than an area of land enclosed by arbitrary lines on a map, like in my pictures i describe in the post. But any normal non-economist would laugh at our incredibly "thin" concept of "country", and say it is much more than that. I remember the Canadian Free Trade debate (about an FTA between Canada and the US), where economists seemed to be arguing from a very different perspective from the nationalists and socialists who opposed the FTA. And I think at root it was about a different concept of "country". On free trade, I think we were largely right, and that the FTA was a good thing even with a richer concept of "country". For free migration, I am not so sure. I think we need to try and get our heads around how those nationalists and socialists conceive of a "country", whether we agree or not, and also recognise the thinness of our own concept, and try to make it a bit thicker.

primed: I take my hat off to you for that comment.

Let me try to articulate something about the global benefits from free migration. I have been thinking of ways to try to say this clearly, and I'm not sure I have succeeded yet. But let me try:

There are three things distributed around the world: people; land; and laws (understood widely). With closed borders it is unlikely we will bet the optimal combinations of the three. It is likely that moving some of the people, while leaving the same combinations of land and laws as they are now, could improve things. But we could also argue that moving some of the laws, while leaving the people and land as they are now, could improve things too. Put crudely, US imperialism could seem to work as well as migration to the US. What is so very special about US land (natural resources)? But that is a reductio ad absurdam, because imperialism has very mixed success (imposing your laws on other people+land usually doesn't work that well in practice). We can't just shuffle around any one of those three things independently of the other two.

That wasn't very clear. My mind is not yet clear. I am trying to say something about two triads: people, land, and laws; and immigration, imperialism, and colonialism.

Nick, the welfare state is the root of this problem. Prior to WWI the US had a de facto open door immigration policy. If you showed up at Ellis Island, congratulations, you were American. At that time, the welfare state did not exist and total government expenditures accounted for less than 2% of GDP. There was no grand redistributionalist agenda. It didn't matter how poor an immigrant was. Most were the poorest Europe had to offer. Immigration at this time transformed the US. New York in particular changed from being a largely white, British city to a wonderful cosmopolitan place filled with Italians, Jews and everyone else. The US became wealthier, especially compared to Europe. Few would argue that immigration in this period harmed the US.

Today, it is a different story. Politicians know that if we allowed immigration at the levels of the 19th century, we would be flood with poor people, just like NYC in the last half of the 19th century. We could not afford to extend our social programs to all of them and this is why we restrict immigration. The zeitgeist of our time tells us that the state should actively redistribute about half the economy (total government expenditures in Canada once tax deductions are included is over 50%). You cannot live like this if you will accept without reservation the planet's tired, poor, huddled masses. We are not interested in freedom so much as we are interested in redistribution - when the two collide, we give up on freedom in a heartbeat.

No, Nick, imperialism is not the answer. If you let people migrate, it sends the strongest possible message back home to change the rules of their economic system - people are voting with their feet.

Jeremy: good find. Right on this very topic, about the ethical difference between the little arrows that do or do not cross the horizontal line. Link to Crooked Timber post.

Avon: "New York in particular changed from being a largely white, British city to a wonderful cosmopolitan place filled with Italians, Jews and everyone else."

Hey, what's not also wonderful about a city full of Brits? ;-)

> It is likely that moving some of the people, while leaving the same combinations of land and laws as they are now, could improve things.

Is that realistic?

Your analogy extends very slightly, but I think in an important way. Instead of a trinity of land, people, and laws, we really have one of land, people, and custom.

Your ambiguity above about "a million Britons migrating to Québec" is about dilution of customs. Necessarily, people carry their ways -- their language, religion, cuisine, and culture -- with them. An individual relocating is a drop in an ocean and likely quickly assimilates, but when we have migration en masse then the culture is carried along for the ride.

That can be a good thing or a bad thing, and it probably depends greatly on your perspective. But it's certainly an unintentional thing. Relatively few migrants do so with the express notion of setting up a cultural enclave; instead they migrate for political or (more relevant to this discussion) economic reasons -- the land.

By moving to best-optimize the (land, people) dichotomy, mass immigration pays little heed to the (people, culture) pairing. That's where we're seeing the backlash where appropriately-assimilated immigrants are okay but those who stand out are not. That's also where economists and the polis are speaking a different language, since "culture" in aggregate is hard to characterize as an economic good.

Avon:

"Prior to WWI the US had a de facto open door immigration policy. If you showed up at Ellis Island, congratulations, you were American. At that time, the welfare state did not exist and total government expenditures accounted for less than 2% of GDP. There was no grand redistributionalist agenda. It didn't matter how poor an immigrant was. Most were the poorest Europe had to offer. Immigration at this time transformed the US. New York in particular changed from being a largely white, British city to a wonderful cosmopolitan place filled with Italians, Jews and everyone else. The US became wealthier, especially compared to Europe. Few would argue that immigration in this period harmed the US."

I think the actual experience of US immigration prior to WWI in fact disproves your point. The 19th century US saw the rise of powerful nativist anti-immigrant movement (e.g.,the "Know-nothings") in response to, respectively, Irish, German , Chinese to say nothing of Jewish, Eastern European, and Italian migration, reflecting both concerns about the impact of migration on wages (unions were prominent players in the nativist movement) and concern about racial, cultural and religious "purity" (reflected, for example, in the rise to prominence and influence of organizations like the KKK) and in the successful introduction of anti-immigrant laws (the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1885, the closing of immigration following WWI).

One can certainly argue, with the benefit of hindsight, that the US open-door policy pre-1921 was beneficial for the US, but at the time, that was far from obvious, and many Americans were quite vociferous in their view that it harmed the US. More to the point, no one would deny the point that migration did impose costs on natives (if, in nothing else, in lower wages) - and my recollection is that there is an abundance of literature on the point. While those costs were almost certainly outweighted by the benefits, as with trade, its far from obvious that the benefits and costs of immigration are evenly distributed.

Bob Smith: too busy to post a rant as long as yours but on banning hidjab as a cause of discontent: both my muslim family and my muslim colleagues ( and as backwood as where I work is, there are 5 within 10 meters of my office...), all of them are in favor of banning it, sometimes in terms far more forceful than I would use. Banning it remove the pretense that "we wear it from our own will in a feminist way."

Majromax: " Instead of a trinity of land, people, and laws, we really have one of land, people, and custom."

Yes. My "law" is too narrow a concept. "Custom" maybe works better.

Avon, whether you are correct or not (and personally I do think there's something to your arguments), the issue you're discussing is a different one than the one address with Nick's analogy. Suppose the welfare state is not important, whether because it doesn't exist, because immigrants do not qualify, or because immigrants pay more in than they take out. The question remains about whether "natives" can oppose immigration on purely... "cultural" or "custom" - non economic - grounds.

Suppose there exists a town where the men (and maybe some of the women) have "very long beards". The towns people take pride in how long the beards of its men are and even the little sign placed on the road into town says "Home of the longest beards in the world!". The town is renown through out the universe for having the most beard per capita. Partly because this has been the situation for a long time, the average length of the inhabitants' beard enters the "natives" utility function, even for those with short or no beard.

As it happens this town also does pretty well economically, with high wages. And oh yeah, it has no welfare state. But because the economic conditions are pretty good, one day outsiders start moving into the town, working there, renting houses, paying taxes and going to the local schools. These outsiders actually come from very very very poor towns, and by moving into the Beard Town their material condition improves a lot (and just for sake of argument, the material conditions in the outsiders' original towns also improves or at least doesn't get worse - no bad brain drain)

The thing about these outsiders though is that they just don't care at all about beard length. They themselves usually shave every day. They don't really think it important that the town has most beard per capita and that it is renown for it in the world.

As a result, the average beard length in the town starts decreasing. The utility of the natives declines. Soon, the town may not have the longest per capita beard in the world. It may not be renown for this reason at all.

You're the social planner. Do you restrict immigration?

Jacques,

Fair enough, and I'm not unaware of that sentiment, although as a point of fact many Muslim woman do choose to wear the hijab (or other head coverings) of their own free will. But I never suggested that all Muslims would be put out by that ban, but certainly many are. More to the point, the ones who are likely to be most put out are also likely to be the ones the least well-integrated with the broader French society (i.e., they're more likely to be disadvantated residents of a Parisian suburb rather than university professors or staff at a French university).

(It's a digression, but my own view is that banning Muslim woman from wearing hijabs because their husbands/fathers/brothers make them wear it is uncomfortably close to the old argument against allowing woman to vote because it gives their husbands/fathers will make them vote the way they want. If we can't trust Muslim woman enough to choose their own clothing, should we let them vote? More to the point, since, even if that's true, since the husbands/fathers/brothers will still force Muslim woman to wear the hibjab, all the ban does is condemn them to the private sphere and further isolate them (and ultimately their children) from the broader society).

Please, everyone, read Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman. All of these issues are dealt with and explained carefully. There are very few reasons to use coercive force on anyone and we should be careful when we resort to it.

As a second point, people here are really complaining about pecuniary externalities, which aren't real externalities because they operate through the price mechanism. If I want to trade with someone, and he is more competitive than you, that does not entitle you to use force to prevent the trade. The trade retains Pareto efficiency - the central planner would not prevent the trade either.

I think the point is that there may be non-pecuniary externalities.

"I think the point is that there may be non-pecuniary externalities."

Really? How? The immigrant comes to Canada to trade. People in Canada accept the trade. Both parties are made better off. Now, there are some people who don't like the trade, but they are not DIRECTLY harmed. They don't like the trade first and foremost because it affects the price of their own labour. (It also interferes with voter rent seeking and redistribution as there are now more voices.) The second part, that they don't like the immigrant's customs or culture, that does not give the right to use force. If you don't like someone - for whatever reason - fine, don't trade with him. But that does not give you the right to use force on people or prevent trading among more open minded people.

We must remember that the state is the only institution that can legitimately use violence to accomplish an end. Granting the state monopoly power on violence is a necessary condition for a peaceful society, but we must be cautious how we use it. The welfare state ignores the gravity of that power, and as a consequence we become desensitized to pointing guns at people - it just an everyday way to get things done. Potential immigrants become just one more group to point guns at, and few give it a second thought.

We're putting the directly economic questions aside. That's how I understand the sentence "Even if that stranger paid his fair share of all the household expenses" in Nick's comment. The discussion is about the fact that some people object to immigration because it alters the cultural make up of their "houses" (or "neighborhoods"), which then becomes a question of what kind of individual preferences are worthy of considering from a social point of view (unless you're going to deny the existence of non-pecuniary externalities altogether).

I do agree with the point you're making, but it's a point that belongs in a different discussion.

notsneaky:

The question reduces to when do we get to use force or the threat of force to change people's behaviour? If an immigrant wants to move into a community, someone has to agree to sell a house to him (or build one for him). If everyone unanimously agrees not to sell a house to him, he won't move into the community. But if at least one person is willing to sell, how do we stop this trade from happening and why? Does the collective, through some decision making process (democracy, dictatorship, whatever,...) get to use the threat of physical violence to "protect" some notion of cultural purity? By what principle? We know see how easy it is in the welfare state to run roughshod over this issue. We are so used to using state power to do things, we forget that immigration restrictions are about point guns at both potential immigrants and Canadians alike. We are individuals in individual families making individual Pareto improving choices. Any other starting point requires a heavy dose of threats and/or violence to accomplish anything.

You're cornering me into playing devil's advocate here because I very much agree that certain preferences - notions of cultural purity - should not be respected. That was my point about changing the analogy from "house" to "neighborhood". But if I were to play devil's advocate I'd ask about letting someone move into an apartment building that likes to play loud music. The *wrong* kind of loud music. The person who sells them the apartment lives at the other end of the apartment building and is relatively unbothered by it.

But more generally, I do agree - quite strongly - that both utilitarian and liberterian calculus favors open borders. The first because the gains to the poorer individuals are so great, the latter because of the basic issue of freedom which you emphasize. The question is whether a "traditionalist" calculus should also be considered and whether it's a strong enough consideration to outweight the other two (I say "only a little bit" and "no!", but some of the other posters appear to be saying that the failure to properly address this third type of viewpoint is why the far right parties won in Europe)

Also this: "We are individuals in individual families making individual Pareto improving choices. " - is not quite correct, even if we're only talking pecuniary externalities. If two people make a mutually beneficial trade which makes a third person worse of, that may be Kaldor-Hicks, and both the ex-ante and ex-post situations may be Pareto optimal, but absent transfers, the trade is not Pareto improving (that's actually why Kaldor-Hicks was invented)

I appreciate the devil's advocate role ;)

"...,into an apartment building that likes to play loud music." This I would quantify as a true externality. It's a form of pollution. Kaldor-Hicks is a different issue here where the aggregate is better off and a Pareto efficient outcome is possible by compensation. This gets close to using Coase's theorem to decide how to handle these externalities. Pecuniary externalities don't count (unless other incomplete markets effects become an overwhelming issue, and even then I am loathed to use anything but the most transparent and minimalist form of regulation).

In this case, the lack of cultural purity becomes the externality (or the pollution) but the solution is simple and should be solved at the individual level. I find nothing wrong in principle with a gated community that restricts who can buy a home and what they can do with their property (e.g. a culturally pure neighbourhood) - provided that people enter these contracts voluntarily. But, the state itself should not be some gated community where everyone is forced into gated community contracts.

Suppose initially it's just me with my labor and some capital owner there with an output producing machine. Putting our L and K together we produce one unit of output which we split 1/2,1/2 (both our outside options are 0). There's also a potential migrant out there who is busy earning 0.

The migrant comes over and now with two labors and the machine we produce 3/2 units of output. But because of increased competition in the labor market (pecuniary externality) now I get only 3/8, the migrant gets 3/8 and the capital owner gets 3/4.

Absent transfers, both situations are Pareto optimal (moving from status quo to migration makes me worse off, moving from migration to status quo makes the migrant worse off). Based on the Pareto criteria you can neither say that "pecuniary externalities don't count" nor that they count.

Anyway. I disagree that the solution to this case of cultural externalities is "simple". It's anything but, as the political situation illustrates. And also, "the state" is not separate from the community. Under ideal conditions "the state" is a way of implementing community preferences. If you have no problem in principle with a gated community then in principle you can't really have a problem with the state deciding that a particular country as a whole will be a gated community. You could argue that a particular state fails to adequately implement the community's preferences, but that's not "in principle" (the existing community could well prefer not to let immigrants in).

notsneaky: "We're putting the directly economic questions aside. That's how I understand the sentence "Even if that stranger paid his fair share of all the household expenses" in Nick's comment."

You understand my meaning correctly.

Avon: an example of a "pecuniary externality" would be where immigration increases house prices. Pecuniary externalities are not strictly externalities, in the normal sense, because they do not cause an inefficient allocation of resources, but simply redistribute wealth (in this case to sellers of houses from buyers of houses). [Ah, reading your next comment I see you already know this.]

An example of a true externality would be something like notsneaky's example of playing loud music, which others don't like, where the person who plays that music takes no account of the preferences of those who hear it.

(I once (politely) objected to the volume of the music played by another guest at a Cuban hotel, who told me that I was in Cuba now and this is what Cubans did.)

notsneaky: "If you have no problem in principle with a gated community then in principle you can't really have a problem with the state deciding that a particular country as a whole will be a gated community."

That leads me to the following thought: Mundell changed the question from "fixed vs flexible exchange rates?" to "what is the optimal currency area?"

Similarly, we might change the question from "open vs closed borders?" to "what is the optimal size of homes?"

"The first because the gains to the poorer individuals are so great, the latter because of the basic issue of freedom which you emphasize."

Which poorer individuals are you referring to? Setting aside questions of welfare benefits, poor immigrants may have gains (why else would they immigrate), but poor natives may lose (as a result of increased competition for jobs from poor immigrants). It's no coincidence that, historically at least, anti-immigration movements have generally been working-class movements (the US nativists and late 19th century labour movement, the FN in France), while support for immigration has been strongest amongst businesses. At the end of the day, the only difference between migration and outsourcing is the factor of production that moves.

There's no denying that there are gains from immigration, but how you weigh the gains and losses (and the welfare of the winners and losers) matters. If you don't care about the well-being of "foreigners" the fact that open immigration improves their welfare isn't likely to be meaningful. Similarly, if you want to preference the well-being of the working class over "greedy corporations" (to use the favourite construct of the modern left), the fact that the shareholders (or customers) of the latter may benefit from immigration isn't going to offset the lower wages to their workers.

notsneaky: "If you have no problem in principle with a gated community then in principle you can't really have a problem with the state deciding that a particular country as a whole will be a gated community"

No, you miss the point. Read Capitalism and Freedom. This is an essential issue in freedom. The state enforces contracts that people voluntarily enter, but it does not force people into contracts. I very much have a problem with the state saying no immigrants, but I have no problem with a gated community that restricts membership. The gated community is unanimous in their decision, but the state is not. The state has to arrive at it's decision with less (usually much less) than unanimity - usually through democracy or some type of vote.

People mix up what freedom means, and Friedman carefully lays out the implications of freedom in his book. Freedom is about unanimous consent and this is why free markets are desired over state imposed solutions - trade occurs only if both parties unanimously agree that the trade is beneficial. State solutions are conformist - everyone gets the same solution, whether you like it or not, and the solution is imposed by coercive force. This is why Friedman points out that solution in Brown v. Board of Education on segregation is entirely suboptimal. The problem of course is that the state says segregation or no segregation with public money and no school choice, and then we ask the courts for a solution. But if you used school vouchers and privatized public education, then we could let the tastes of the community decide how schools should be constituted. Some might be segregated and others not. Whatever happens, every family would be unanimous in their school choice. Without privatizing schools and using vouchers, Brown v. Board of Education is the correct way to go, but this is really a ruling about how much the state can discriminate when using force. It's unfortunate that we use force at all, when choice solves the problem. To be clear, I do not support segregationist views. I support people's freedom to choose. If I want to sell my house or rent a property to a poor Mexican family, that should be my business, not the state's, unless I voluntarily bought the property with the proviso that I would not do so.

Avon: I think we could imagine a gated community, into which people voluntarily enter, which makes (some) decisions by something less than unanimity. If the gated community decides whether or not to build a pool, or hire lifeguards, it might be by majority vote, for example. People might prefer gated communities like that, over ones that required all changes be unanimous (because of "holdup costs", for example). Now suppose that gated community also gave automatic membership to those that were born there, as children of existing members, but others had to apply for membership. It starts to look a bit like a state.

No, Nick, it is not like a state. I still have choice not to live in this gated community. There are alternatives. Friedman is very specific on these points.

Bob Smith: "...offset the lower wages to their workers."

This is a pecuniary effect and we should ignore it. It is occurring through the price mechanism - there is no loss of Pareto efficiency. If you care about this logic, you would stop all innovation because some people might lose their job.

Avon: Suppose the whole country/world was filled with gated communities/countries. 'I still have choice not to live in this gated community/country. There are alternatives.' I can apply to enter some other gated community/country, and leave my current gated community/country, if I can persuade some other gated community/country to let me in.

Last night I watched the PBS show, "Frontline", about half of which was about the conflict in the Ukraine. It was apparent that for many people there, country and home were not synonymous. While watching the show I thought about how Pan-Slavism was a major factor in causing WWI. "Ein Volk, Ein Reich" was a justification for German aggression leading to WWII.

In much of the world today nation states are the remnants of colonial empires. Colonial powers had little interest in preserving ethnic boundaries. As a result we have Iraq but no Kurdistan, Rhodesia but no Shonaland. Indeed, it was often to the advantage of the colonial powers to play different ethnicities against each other, as with the Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda.

Avon: "If you care about this logic, you would stop all innovation because some people might lose their job."

That's an exageration. Even on the reasoning I set out, people would support some innovation, depending on the identities of the winner and losers.

More to the point, it matters because we don't live in libertarian paradise governed by markets. We live in a liberal democracy where the distribution of gains and loses matter to policy outcomes (too many loser from a given policy and they vote against it).

Avon: "No, Nick, it is not like a state. I still have choice not to live in this gated community. There are alternatives."

If you live in a gated community, you have a choice not to live in it. There are alternatives. If you live outside a gated community you don't have a choice to live in it if they don't want you.

If you're a citizen of a country, you have a choice not to live in it. There are alternatives. If you're not a citizen of a country, you don't have a choice to become one if they don't want you.

Tell me again how a gated community is different than a country?

notsneaky: "'I don't want a black person moving into my neighborhood' is a illegitimate view, even if the majority of individuals in a neighborhood feel that way."

However, "I don't want a poor person moving into my neighborhood" is still legitimate in the US. Which shows to go you that at this point in time the US is more classist than racist. OC, discrimination against poor people is a way to discriminate against blacks. Something that our Supreme Court pretends not to believe.

@Bob Smith @10:05 - the thing is that the poorest individuals in rich countries are a lot richer than the average individuals in poor countries. The US (absolute) poverty threshold is set at about world average income. Minimum wages in US are two times the average wage in Mexico (not sure if that's true anymore actually). And Mexico is a rich country! The monetary gains from migration are enormous and that's not even letting diminishing marginal utility of wealth to kick in. See that paper about "Trillion Dollars on the Sidewalk" in JEP mentioned above.

If you're an honest-to-goodness utilitarian then you go with the "equal capacity for happiness" assumption and in your social welfare function everyone gets the same weight, foreign or native. Now, I guess you could modify that to be some sort of nativist-utilitarian where foreigners get a lower weight than natives but for gains from migration not to be huge you'd have to consider foreigners a very very small fraction of a native "person". So small in fact that it really ends up ethically indefensible, even allowing for some "nativism".

Of course that's me considering what kind of social welfare function we should use. Political economy and how people out there actually feel and vote are a different matter.

@Avon

"This is a pecuniary effect and we should ignore it. It is occurring through the price mechanism - there is no loss of Pareto efficiency"

Again, this is incorrect. What does it mean for there to be "no loss of Pareto efficiency"? The situations before and after are simply non-comparable in Pareto terms, since each one involves loosers. So it makes just as much sense to say that closing borders involves "no loss of Pareto efficiency".

And, related, why should pecuniary effects be ignored? From an individual's perspective does it matter if I loose 50% of my income due to shifts in labor supply and demand (pecuniary externalities) or because I have to suffer presence of pollution which I value at 50% of my income? By saying that the former should be ignored but not the latter you are making an implicit value judgement (people in the labor market "deserve" the income they get, but a person doesn't "deserve" to be polluted upon). But you cannot make that value judgement based on the Pareto criteria. It's a whole big set, it doesn't help much in evaluating most real world policy proposals, and it is defined independently of any institutional set up (almost) like markets (more precisely it is defined with respect to some kind of a "transfer technology", with markets being one such technology)

@Min, Pan-Slavism was probably a minor cause of WWI. There was the Russia-Serbia connection but that's about it. And Pan-Slavism was always mostly a Russian idea, generally regarded with a lot of suspicion by the other Slavs who saw it as a cover/excuse for Russian dominance... except those who lived far away enough from Russia, like the Serbs. Ukrainians were pro-German/pro-Austrian. Poles fought for and against all sides to get independence. Czechs and Slovaks fought for Austria-Hungary, albeit somewhat reluctantly.

Anyway, off topic and that's my third comment in ten minutes.

Min: "It was apparent that for many people there, country and home were not synonymous."

I remember reading Margaret MacMillan's "Paris 1919" where something similar came up. The concept of "national self-determination" proved to be tricky to implement. Did people feel they belonged to a religion, a language group, a country, or what? Borders and groups are very fuzzy things, even today.

"the thing is that the poorest individuals in rich countries are a lot richer than the average individuals in poor countries."

In nominal dollar terms, yes, although the gap gets narrowed in real terms ($40K a year goes a lot farther in India than in Brampton).

"If you're an honest-to-goodness utilitarian then you go with the "equal capacity for happiness" assumption and in your social welfare function everyone gets the same weight, foreign or native. Now, I guess you could modify that to be some sort of nativist-utilitarian where foreigners get a lower weight than natives but for gains from migration not to be huge you'd have to consider foreigners a very very small fraction of a native "person". So small in fact that it really ends up ethically indefensible, even allowing for some "nativism".

If I were an honest-to-goodness untilitarian, I wouldn't be a human being. Human beings are "nativist-utilitarians", that's why we care more about our family then people in our community, more about people in our community than in neighbouring communities, more about people in neighbouring communities than in other countries. If we weren't, our foreign aid budget would dwarf, by many orders of magnitude our domestic social welfare spending. The reverse is universally true.

"In nominal dollar terms, yes,..."

The adjustment for price levels and cost of living is nowhere near enough to erase or even put big dent in the size of the huge economic gains from migration. These are huge in both nominal and real terms, although, yes, due to Balassa-Samuelson effects the former is "larger".

"If I were an honest-to-goodness untilitarian, I wouldn't be a human being."

We're discussing how policy should be formulated and what justifies it. I mean, sure, if there's a policy proposal out there that says "everyone in the world needs to give notsneaky and his family a dollar" I'd support it, essentially for reasons you mention. But I wouldn't pretend - at least not to myself in private - that this policy has some kind of moral justification behind it or that it improves social welfare.

This is the question "what kind of preferences should be respected" when formulating policy that I keep mentioning.

And like I said, the "weight" that would have to be assigned to non-natives to justify closing border is so minuscule that even if one allows for some nativism, it's still ethically indefensible. Something like weighting at about 1/20th a native.

"This is the question "what kind of preferences should be respected" when formulating policy that I keep mentioning."

Well, two points. First, having a discussion about what preferences shoud be respected is the anti-thesis of a utilitarian discussion. One you start deciding that some preferences are legitimate and illigimate, you're engaging a variant of the weighted utiitarian exercises (with certain preferences given a weighting of zero). On that logic, Apartheid South Africa could be characterized as an ideal utilitarian society if one accepts the proposition that the preferences of Black South Africans should be treated as being illigitimate.

Second, if we're discussing the formulation of policy and ethics, surely we have to take into account people's actual real world preferences and ethical world view. As I mentioned, people regularly give virtually zero-weight to the well-being of non-residents. Again, I give ano bvious example, our health care system will spend vast sums of money one "nice-to-have" treatments for Canadian citizens, but won't spend a nickel on life-saving vacines or nutrients for African children. Even if include the limited health-related foreign aid, Canadian health policy gives virtually no weight to the welfare of 6-odd billion people outside of Canada, and significant weight to the ~30-odd million Canadian citizens and permanent residents. Forget a 1/20th weight to non-resident welfare, we're talking a weighting of non-resident utility that is infintesimally small.

I could give countless other examples. No country provides meaningful education or welfare (beyond meager foreign aid) to non-residents. If someone kills a few thousand Americans (Pearl Harbour, 9/11) Americans will move heavan and earth an will move wage war accross the planet to bring them to justice (and, not to pick on the US, other countries in the same situation wil do the same thing, if they have the ability). If someone kills a million Rwandans (or Syrians, or Cambodians, or Jews, or Koreans, or Chinese) no one does anything. All of that is driven by a preference for the well-being of "us" over the well-being of "them". We may recognize the suffering of "outsiders" as wrong and bad, but we don't see our preference for the well-being of insiders as unethical, those preferences are just human.

Given that, why would we expect Canadians to give radically different weight to the well-being of non-residents for immigration purposes than we do for health, welfare, education, war etc.?

If we're going to have a discussion of what policies should be formulated, we have to take into account peoples real world preferences. Sure, you can have a fun time wondering what policies we would adopt behind the Rawlsian veil (personally I think Rawls bought his results with his assumed utility function), but that's not particularly relevant to a policy discussion in a democratic society.

notsneaky: because of the basic issue of freedom which you emphasize Mass migration of Muslims into a society (or even developing world Christians) might not be good for the freedom of queer citizens. Polities make rules, migrants become voters and vote. It makes a difference.

Jacques René Giguère & Bob Smith: The new veiling movement is about middle class Muslim women signalling their commitment to religious norms when away from their immediate neighbourhood and men responsible for them while engaged in work and study. It is all about the implications of highly patriarchal Muslim norms.
http://www.wiwiss.fu-berlin.de/forschung/veranstaltungen/rse/Past_Programs/Winter_2010_11/RSE-Carvalho.pdf?1353071422

Avon Barksdale & Bob Smith: In Without Consent or Contract Robert Fogel documents the significantly adverse effects of mass migration on locally born citizens. The nativist movement expressed rational antipathy to mass migration. The new Republican Party brilliantly finessed that into antipathy to "the Slave Power". Migration can create serious crowding effects, for example. The costs of migration are not evenly distributed, nor are the benefits.

Avon Barksdale: Americans have more commonality than you might realise. Nick is correct, there is a "thicker" concept of country that has to be dealt with. Looking at dysfunctional polities (of which there are many) provides a salutary corrective.

Bob Smith: we have to take into account peoples real world preferences. Quite. The Rawlsian analysis is both not applicable and instructive. The game is about the rules as much as anything else, where rules are openly up for grabs and preferences about rules are not the same as preferences within individual transactions.

Nick: part of the "thicker" concept of country is that it is not just a mass of one-off transactions. Not even the concept of repeated transactions allows trade analysis to be "deep" enough. The rules powerfully affect not only which transactions take place, but their content and effects.

Access to resources for existing residents can be reduced by migration--this is what happened in C19th US, for example. The dysfunctional EU labour markets also share some of such features. Another way in which the "it is just about gains from trade" analysis does not work.

Since polities need to be able to claim the loyalty of citizens (not being able to do so is not a survival trait in a polity) and as political entrepreneurs exist (see EU elections) telling large numbers of citizens that their preferences on entry to their country have no standing, no matter how important it is to them, is not conducive to political or social stability.

Increased communication costs and dispersal in preferences also affect what public policies become more or less viable. The "Scandinavian model" in public policy fairly clearly rests on high levels of communication and shared preferences. The more migration reduces such flows of communication and disperses the range of preferences, the less viable the Scandinavian model becomes. As that becomes clearer, the costs of migration may well lead to rational antipathy to said migration.

Of course, pandering to anti-immigration feeling can have other political entrepreneurial uses. It may be a lot easier than, for example, dealing with dysfunctional labour markets. Even when said dysfunctions have a great deal to do with how dysfunctional the banlieu are, for example. Regulations tend to defend social incumbents (see dysfunctional labour markets): but well organised/politically focused incumbents rather than just any incumbents.

We must remember that the state is the only institution that can legitimately use violence to accomplish an end. Granting the state monopoly power on violence is a necessary condition for a peaceful society, but we must be cautious how we use it. The welfare state ignores the gravity of that power, and as a consequence we become desensitized to pointing guns at people - it just an everyday way to get things done. Potential immigrants become just one more group to point guns at, and few give it a second thought.

Ahoy, huge non-sequitur fallacy off the port bow! And a straw man to boot!

Compulsory taxation is as old as the hills. In fact "welfare spending" as a state activity is also centuries old. See the Poor Law of England for an excellent example. What changed in the 20th Century was the degree, not the principle. In a liberal democracy it is entirely legitimate for the community to set a new priority by majority consent. In fact, since the welfare state has not led to vastly increased levels of imprisonment, violence or non-compliance with required taxes the obvious conclusion is that the majority has consented to the welfare state and continues to give its consent to the welfare state's continued existence. So there is obvious link between the welfare state, taxation and state-sponsored violence. Nice attempt to turn a non-sequitur into a straw man though.

Moreover, the greater deterrent is not imprisonment but the economic losses of tax penalties. Tax evasion is an economic crime, after all.

You can't fault Milton Friedman too much for his over-reliance on straw men; Hayek was the king of No True Scotsman arguments after all.

"Avon Barksdale & Bob Smith: In Without Consent or Contract Robert Fogel documents the significantly adverse effects of mass migration on locally born citizens. The nativist movement expressed rational antipathy to mass migration. The new Republican Party brilliantly finessed that into antipathy to "the Slave Power". Migration can create serious crowding effects, for example. The costs of migration are not evenly distributed, nor are the benefits."

Agreed. Indeed, along the same lines, it's interesting to note that the current kurfluffle over temporary foerign workers in Canada largely started as a result of a challenge by two BC unions of the federal government's decision to grant temporary foreign worker permits to HD Mining. Plus ca change...

Lorenzo from Oz:.The new veiling movement is about middle class Muslim women signalling their commitment to religious norms when away from their immediate neighbourhood and men responsible for them while engaged in work and study."
"At home", the mothers and grand-mothers of my family aren't veiled. The men, prosperous bankers and traders for generations, are aghast and terrified at what they see as barbarous customs of the lowest orders of peasants.
Though it applies to the wife of one of my colleague, who, after immigrating here, decided she would no longer work outside and stay veiled. To his absolute dismay and that of her family...

The only question is whether you believe in liberty or not. It's about principles. If you feel that guns are the best way to organize society, that's a normative position My principles involve minimal use of guns in society. And no, the welfare state and guns are not a non-sequitur when it comes to immigration. The open door policy in the US before WWI could only exist in the absence of a welfare state. The labour groups who opposed immigration in the US at that time had few victories and little effect on immigration - the state was just too small. I love how today's left forgets that the nascent labour movement in the antebellum US vociferous defended slavery and latter supported Copperheads for exactly the same reasons that they oppose immigration today - the possibility of labour competition.

Disruptions from immigration are no different than technology disruptions. Both change the costs of inputs. If you are against immigration because it might lower wage rates (pecuniary effects), you must also be against machinery or automation that can also lower the wage rate. Once you decide to use guns as an organizing principle, you point guns at nearly everything - it's much more expedient than persuasion.

Gay marriage and the unacceptability to being against homosexual adoption of children, as pushed by the EU-elite, helped galvanize many anti-EU votes.

Is marriage about man-women committed pairs having and raising children? or something else?
Note that the European Court has declared that "registered partnerships" must be granted all rights of marriage.

A Slovak Roma couple in Britain recently lost custody of their two children, who will be given up for adoption to a homosexual couple. Many folks are quite, and no longer so quietly, upset at these issues.

The increasingly clear anti-religious, anti-Christian, anti-Catholic bias of elites and elites in culture is helping to create an ever larger anti-elite backlash. More elections are likely to follow this trend.

Avon Barksdale: The only question is whether you believe in liberty or not. It's about principles. Actually, the debate is about how to conceptualise human interactions and what countries are. And yes, you can "win" a debate by simply ignoring or denying those parts of the social world which are awkward for one's own case. But that is not going to be remotely persuasive to folk who are not up for that.

I do not find any sort of anarchism persuasive, for example, as (1) state societies have achieved so much more than non-state societies and (2) a lack of a state just creates a market niche for entries to the "state" market. That, after all, is what protection rackets are: competitors to the state in extraction-via-coercion.

Tom: The real problem is the mode of politics in the EU, not specific issues. Queer emancipation is mostly just a re-run of Jewish emancipation (which also upset lots of folk, was against God, tradition, they preyed on children, spread disease ...). Since the EU is based on the idea that the great problem of European history is nationalism and nationalism is a popular sentiment, then the great problem is popular sentiments and so you get the "we know better" elitism that the EU operates under--the democratic deficit as feature, not bug.

To my mind, the great problem of European history is unaccountable/irresponsible power, and the EU is not exactly free of that little wrinkle.

Just to be absolutely clear, I mean that it was claimed that it was against God, tradition, and they preyed on children, spread disease ...

Avon,

It's a bit odd to suggest that the labour movement's and other's opposition to the US open door policy was ineffective, given that the US subsequently ended that policy and closed it's doors.

And there is a material difference between technological change and immigration policy. It's difficult to put the latter back in the bottle, whereas laws can be changed with the flick of a pen (as the actual experience of immigration in the us and Canada shows).

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