October 17, 2006

A little on immigration

The free movement of people, like the free movement of goods, is generally good, and for the same reason. Individuals are able to balance the good and bad points and so find the place for them to live in order to be happy, just as individuals are best able to decide what assets will make them most happy and what they are willing to trade for them. In a perfect world we could simply open our borders to trade and people and everybody would end up with the most happiness possible. Unfortunately we do not live in a perfect world.

Sometimes there are problems created that do not directly affect the people involved, in trade these are called externalities, and so are not part their decision making process.

So what are the externalities of the free movement of people?

Well high Ethnolinguistic Fractionalization is known to cause lower GDP growth, and if large numbers of immigrants enter a country without learning the language then obviously this is going to go up.

Diversity in communities tends to lower trust between people:
When the data were adjusted for class, income and other factors, they showed that the more people of different races lived in the same community, the greater the loss of trust. “They don’t trust the local mayor, they don’t trust the local paper, they don’t trust other people and they don’t trust institutions,” said Prof Putnam. “The only thing there’s more of is protest marches and TV watching.

The market for places to live in is not free, some places are very hard to move to, and some places subsidise people moving to them (via a welfare state). This means that some places will see immigration far above the natural level.

Colonisation, where immigrants make no effort to integrate into the society of the country they have chosen to live in. Be this the British colonies in southern Spain or the Islamic colonies in the midlands.

There are ways of mitigating some of these problems.

The linguistic part of Ethnolinguistic Fractionalization can be reduced simply by encouraging immigrants to speak the same language as everybody else. The simplest way to do this would be to use the stick of make not speaking the native language hard through not having translations, and the carrot of easy access to education.

We can remove the market distortions simply by getting rid of the welfare state (a good thing in itself) and lobbying for free movement of people everywhere.

We can reduce the problem of colonisation, a bit anyway by. In case of the Islamic colonies we can use the stick of not paying them the jizya that supports them, Muslims had the highest overall levels of economic inactivity in 2004, (more than double the national average), while reducing our regulatory burden that stops the colonies economy from integrating with that of the outside world. However there are also factors within Islamic culture that have made Muslims especially prone to acting as Colonists rather than integrating like all other groups.

And diversity? Everybody speaking the same language will help then 3000 years of free movement of people and it will simply stop being an issue.


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