Friday, January 25, 2008

Migration and Global Poverty

Reason Magazine has a thought-provoking interview with Harvard Economist Lant Pritchett who argues the best way to improve the lives of the world's poor is to make it easier for them to move to rich countries. Pritchett says:
Being against migration to the United States is wrong for two reasons. One, I don’t think it gets the scale of the poverty in the United States vs. poverty in the rest of the world right. Second, if you are really concerned about inequality in the United States, there are many things you can do that would be better than blocking other people from coming to our country. I don’t want to say that people who are concerned about inequality in the U.S. aren’t right to be concerned about inequality in the U.S. But I think taking that concern and using it to keep people from coming to the United States is victimizing the world’s true victims in favor of people who happen to live closer to you.
An interesting argument, though clearly a political non-starter these days... Pritchett was also featured last year in the NY Times magazine. Hat tip to Free Exchange.


Juris Naturalist said...

Wow, what a great interview! I've posted my comments on it at my blog. Lant Pritchett has some really great ideas. I come to believe that if people would open their homes to immigrants they would do much more good than sending money to Africa.

Bill C said...

Thanks for the comment. Part of the problem, though, is for people to act individually like you suggest, national policies need to change to allow it. There's not much sign of that, though I thought Pritchett's views on the possibility of political change in the future were interesting.