Discussion 5 Immigration -- Article 1

Discussion 5 Immigration -- Article 1 - Economics focus The...

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Economics focus The price of entry A new proposal from Gary Becker to make a market in immigration Jun 24th 2010 NORTH AFRICANS risk their lives to try to cross the Mediterranean to southern Europe. Mexicans pay “mules” to get them across the border with the United States. Afghans camp outside Calais in filthy surroundings, waiting to cross into Britain. Everywhere, it seems, there are people trying to get into another country. Even those who seek to move legally in order to work face huge barriers to entry in certain countries. People on work visas account for 70% of legal migrants to Germany, for instance, but only 5.6% of those entering America, the original land of opportunity. Most of the rest get in because a member of their family is already in the country. America’s annual quota of visas for the highly skilled can run out in a matter of weeks. More people want to move to rich countries than are able to. In a lecture delivered on June 17th at the Institute of Economic Affairs, a think-tank in London, Gary Becker proposed a “radical solution” to this messy problem. Fittingly for a Nobel laureate who pioneered the application of economics to areas such as discrimination, crime and the family, his answers involved market mechanisms. Mr Becker argued that immigration was out of kilter because of the absence of a price that would match supply and demand. Governments, he suggested, could use economic principles to allocate visas, either by selling the right to migrate at a price that called forth a desired number of migrants, or by auctioning immigrant visas.
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