Bernie Sanders is wrong on open borders: they’d help boost the economy

Source: The Guardian


Bernie Sanders has come out against open borders, claiming they are a “right-wing proposal” that “would make everyone in America poorer.” He argues that, while we have a “moral responsibility” to “work with the rest of the industrialized world to address the problems of international poverty… you don’t do that by making people in this country even poorer.”

But there is a vast amount of literature showing that open borders could be thesingle best policy to alleviate global poverty. The free movement of people would enrich individuals by allowing them to move to where their specific skills and talents are most economically efficient and personally beneficial. According to Michael Clemens at the Center for Global Development, open borders could lead to a one-time boost in world GDP of 50 to 150%.

Contra Senator Sanders, a Democratic candidate for president, open borders is a moral imperative for those who truly wish to help the world’s poor. If Sanders wishes to challenge mainstream economists on this fact, he must provide empirical evidence to back up his assertions. Otherwise, he deserves to be dismissed as just another politician, playing to domestic, nativist sentiments, rather than pursuing the economic policies that will benefit Americans and reduce global poverty.

The reduction in global poverty from opening borders would not come at the expense of American workers. There is a significant amount of evidence highlighting the absence of harm from increased immigration. Alex Nowrasteh, the immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity, has found that immigrants tend to have different comparative advantages than native workers; low-skilled immigrants are vying for jobs that require different skills and talents than the ones that suit most Americans.

Sanders ignores the effect that workers’ comparative advantages have in the labor market. It simply isn’t true that more immigration means more competition for American jobs. It means more innovators, producers, consumers and shoppers. It means more people for Americans to trade with, buy from and sell to.

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